What progress can you really make in setting aside 30 minutes a day to research your family history? You may feel that you need a block of several hours at a time for research, but if you use a focused process, each day can build on the previous work. You’ll find yourself coming to the end of a project either having solved your objective or having laid a foundation for moving the research forward.
I developed the Research Like a Pro process knowing that I wasn’t the only researcher spinning their wheels, repeating searches, not using a research log effectively, or writing up results. In 2019 and 2020, Nicole and I ran a 14-Day Mini Challenge using a simplified version of the RLP process. The challenge gave the participants an opportunity to try out the process with a minimum time commitment and share each step in the public Facebook Group: 14 Day Research like a Pro Mini Challenge Group.
We’re excited to be starting a new 14-Day Mini Challenge on January 15, 2022. For more information about joining, see the end of this blog post. Be sure to sign up by January 14!
How successful can researching for 30 minutes a day be? I participated in the mini challenge and was able to make significant progress on learning about one of my ancestors, Nancy E. (Briscoe) Frazier. I turned my experience into a presentation for the Alumni Learning Consortium and am sharing that with you! During the presentation, I explain each of the steps in the 14 Day Mini Challenge and what I did for the Nancy E. (Briscoe) Frazier Project.
14 Day Research Like a Pro Challenge
Day 1 – Research Question
Task: Analyze your tree and choose a simple research question such as “where did my ancestor die?” or “which John Smith” is my ancestor?
Day 2 – Objective
Task: Write an objective from your question using the key identifiers of complete names and birth, death, and marriage dates and places.
Day 3 – Timeline
Task: Gather and review sources that are already known about your relative and make a simple timeline. Tomorrow, you will analyze each event in your timeline for source and information.
Day 4 – Analyze Your Sources
Task: Go through each event in your timeline and analyze the source (original, derivative, authored) and information (primary, secondary, unknown). Look for gaps and write down any questions or ideas you have in the sources to search section of your Research Project Document.
Day 5 – Locality Research
Task: Choose a locality in your timeline and learn about it. Today you will add basic information about the locality to the background information section of your Research Project Document. Tomorrow you will list where to find the record sets.
Day 6 – Locality Research
Task: Finish your locality research by creating a list of important record groups in the locality and where to find them online. You’ll use the FamilySearch Wiki and Catalog.
Day 7 – Hypothesis
Task: Create a hypothesis based on what you learned from your timeline and source analysis.
Day 8 – Research Planning
Task: Prioritize the records you have listed in “identified sources to search.” Make sure you have at least 4 records to search but not more than 6-7 in your prioritized plan.
Day 9 – Source Citations
Task: Make 1-2 source citations for events in your timeline.
Day 10 – Source Citations
Task: Make 2 more source citations for events in your timeline.
Day 11 – Research Log
Task: Use your research plan and search the first 2-3 records in your plan. Log what you did in your research log with a complete source citation and a link to the record or database.
Day 12 – Research Log
Task: Finish following your research plan and logging your searches. Abstract or transcribe any documents like wills or court records.
Day 13 – Report Outline
Task: Make an outline of what you’re going to write using your research log and put everything into a logical order.
Day 14 – Report Writing
Task: Follow your outline and write a summary of your research. Include future research suggestions.
Sign up for the Challenge by January 14th
To join us in our next challenge running from January 15th to January 29th, sign up for the daily prompts and share your progress in the Facebook group. Here are the links you need:
All About the Challenge – Read more about the challenge here.
Sign up for the Challenge – Sign up with your email address by January 14 at 11:59pm MST.
14-Day Research Like a Pro Mini Challenge Facebook Group – Join the group at any time to view the prompts and share your progress.
Best of luck in all your genealogical endeavors!
Discount Code for RLP eCourse
Ready to go in-depth? Our Research Like a Pro online course provides hour-long instructional videos for each step. Register during the mini challenge with a 20% discount using the coupon code CHALLENGE2022 with the link below. This code expires 7 February 2022 at 11:59pm MT.