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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree July 2019 > TOP TIPS FOR EXCELLENT FAMILY HISTORY RESEARCH


Brush up your family history skills, with professional researcher Susie Douglas’s ideas and approaches to help you research smarter, circumvent brickwalls and hit the genealogy jackpot



A selection of the contents from one of the many folders of Susie’s 2x greatuncle George’s research into the Grey family

Shortly after being asked to pen an article on the topic of ‘research’ for Family Tree, and while considering the approach I should adopt for such a huge topic, I happened – portentously perhaps – on a particularly ‘busy’ discussion in a social media newsfeed regarding the efficacy of professional researchers.

Opinions in the debate were certainly divided with some saying that professionals had helped a lot, and others saying they were not necessary in this digital age, where information could be found for free online. My initial thought to self was, ‘Ok, if that is the case why do so many amateurs fail or, worse still, propagate family trees with misinformation?’. A bit of a harsh generalisation perhaps, as there are many extremely proficient amateur genealogists out there, and probably as many indiff erent professionals (as well as numerous accomplished people on both sides). However, I quickly realised that I had in fact answered my own question as to the direction my article could take.

In the world of family history, the tendency is to start thinking of a plan only when obvious sources of information have failed to deliver a definitive answer. By then a seemingly insurmountable brick wall has appeared. Based on the old adage of ‘fail to plan – plan to fail’ it might be helpful to focus on the basics of the research process from the very beginning and look at approach, method and methodology, to help minimise the appearance of brickwalls in the first place.

Here I could regurgitate academic textbooks on the subject, spout a lot of long of words and tell you what ‘you should do’ but frankly that would make for a rather ‘dull’ read. After all, the majority of family history enthusiasts are not seeking to achieve academic acclaim, but just seeking ways to make their research more eff ective, durable and accurate. So, instead I will try to talk you through the thought patterns and processes I employ myself, which, as a by-product, can create a database of information that I can easily refer to time and time again.

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About Family Tree

We're all busy in today's 24/7 world - but we've got solutions to help you make the most of that precious time and take your family history to the next level... 1. Discover how to transform your approach to your ancestral research in our 20-minute read by professional genealogist Susie Douglas. 2. Make that dream of writing up your family history a reality with our simple strategy for writing up your family history in #1,000words". 3. And never overlook the value of those core vital records. This issue we're exploring 500 years of marriage records and showing you how to use them on your family quest. Plus more than 25 websites to transform your Irish genealogy, memories of the moon landings in this 50th anniversary year, and so much more... Enjoy!