Genealogy progress guaranteed

I’m a little late in posting this month, but for a very good reason! Next week I am off to the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) for a one-week immersion in a program called Meeting Standards Using DNA Evidence – Research Strategies, led by Karen Stanbury, CG. In this class, we will study methodologies and strategies to apply best practices when we want to combine DNA results with our documentary evidence to reach a conclusion. Since the first of the year, I’ve been preparing a DNA case-study-in-progress of my own to present to some of the class.

What does this have to do with guaranteed progress? And how could it help you?


It’s not the class. (Though I’m confident it will help me too!) It’s the prep.

I find this is true for me, over and over again. I decide I’ve done everything I can and I’m still stumped about someone in my family tree, so I set it aside.

Ideally, I’ve written up every place I’ve looked for evidence, and I’ve written citations–both for information I did find and for the places I looked without success too. I’ve transcribed documents. I’ve created timelines and charts, and I’ve analyzed and correlated the data. I’ve looked for conflicting results and tried to resolve them. And I’ve applied the same genealogy standards to my DNA evidence too. Then I write a short summary of my conclusions to date, and I start a list of further suggestions I might try. (Writing this all up is key.) See image 1 for an example.

And then I set it aside.

Image 1. Table of Contents from my Flynn project document.


I pick it up again, months later. Why?

  • Maybe I’ve got a genealogy buddy and we agree to look over each other’s brick walls and try to brainstorm some new steps for each other.
  • Maybe my local genealogy organization or DNA Special Interest Group is offering free 20-minute consultations, so I pull out one of these project documents to bring along or to provide to the coach in advance.
  • Maybe I’ve found a new cousin on my brick wall line and I want to see how this DNA match affects my hypothesis or my search for clues.
  • And this month, I’m prepping my Flynn case-study-in-progress to share with a class of experienced genetic genealogists for their feedback and ideas.

Each time I pull out one of my research compilation documents in a case like these, I review it with a fresh eye. And guess what? Taking a break and returning much later can actually be a very effective strategy, provided you’ve captured and organized everything you’ve already done.  Re-reading what I know so far, especially if I’m going to share it with others, somehow triggers my brain to try to anticipate what they might ask or propose. And bingo! Every time, I think of something new I hadn’t considered before. I’m on my way to new leads and new evidence. I can guarantee that happens to me—every single time.

Will it work for you too? Only one way to find out! Give it a try.

© Jan 2020 ~  Ann Raymont, Certified Genealogist®

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