Saturday, April 27, 2013

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - A Research Problem and Lessons Learned

From Randy over at Genea-Musings: 

Calling all Genea-Musings Fans: 
 It's Saturday Night again - 
time for some more Genealogy Fun!!

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!): 

1)  Think back to when you first started doing genealogy and family history research.  What was one of your first real research problems?  How did you attack the problem?  Did you solve the problem?  If so, how?  What lessons did you learn from this experience?

2)  Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a comment on Facebook or Google Plus.

Here's mine:
When I first started doing genealogy research, I was a pre-teen or teenager... so I do not recall my research problems from that time.  Back then there was no Internet to do quick searches; everything was done by postal letter!  What helped me the most at that time was hearing from Ray Tapley, the author of Tapley:  A Family of Georgia And the South, a book I still refer to constantly.  Ray wanted information about our line of the Tapleys.  My parents weren't interested so I gathered the information from my grandfather's notes and sent it to Ray myself.  Thus began a correspondence that taught me so much about my family and where they came from.  The genealogy bug grabbed me tight and did not ever let go after that.  

Since then, I have run up on several research problems; some of which I have solved and some I have not.  The one that stands out in my mind is wanting to learn about my Uncle Russ Tapley's military service during World War II.  All I knew was that he had been in the European Theatre.  Supposedly serving in General Patton's 3rd Army, according to my father.  I brainstormed many, many ideas for finding his DD-214.  I hit many roadblocks and dead ends, but ultimately I was successful.  I chronicled my search here on my blog through four different blog posts:

The biggest lesson I learned was to never give up.  Brainstorm ideas and keep looking.  You never know when the one piece of information you need will surface.  Databases and other information is being added to the Internet all the time.  In my case, the old-fashioned filing system of a county courthouse was the answer to my inquiry, so don't overlook those types of sources.  

Also, and I don't know that this is a lesson so much as just the way I am wired, I like to put my research about an ancestor into the context of the time period in which they lived.  So I didn't just want to know what unit my uncle was in and that be that.  I did the research to find out what that unit did and where they were during World War II and how my uncle's service fit into that.  It brings our family's history to life.  It's not just names and dates.  

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