Off to DAR's Continental Congress

This week begin's DAR's national conference, the Continental Congress.  I'm so excited to be going for the first time this year and thankful for the prediction of good weather.  Instead of packing, I've been getting my research needs in order.  DAR has an incredible library, seen nationally on Who Do You Think You Are? TV show.  But they don't let any of the materials out of the library so if you want to do you family ancestry research in their collection you have to take advantage of the time there.  I have been working on my Millsaps family for over 12 years and I am going to use my library time to see if I can't flesh the  last generation out to the Revolution.  I was able to come in under my suspected American Revolution patriot's (William Millsaps) son for the US Daughters of the War of 1812, Reuben Millsap. This is a large Irish family with little inclination to change up the first names so there are tons of Williams, Josephs, Thomas', and the like. 

This also reminds me that having an organized research project is so incredibly important.  Knowing what information you want and what is missing is critical for keeping your research on track.  If you have a goal in mind, for example joining a heritage group like DAR or Mayflower Society, you have to understand the requirements for that society and what level of documentation they require. It is also critical for getting through confusing families like my Millsaps because of incorrect information confusing the matter.  Getting your paperwork into order is the only way...but there are many ways to organize so use a system that works for you.  Just use a system!  In addition to the online or computer programs (Ancestry.com and Family Tree Maker being two of many), you'll need a system to organize the proofs or citation material.  These can be done with the computer for some documents (scans or documents you downloaded from the internet or shared through email).  That won't work for books and large items. Probably the most common systems are paper based. Using Family Group Sheets, you can organize your research into file folders for each person then grouping them by family or my personal favorite is to have a notebook for each family group and use archival sleeves to store my proofs.  Using the print out from Ancestry.com of the person's profile at the beginning of their tab, I have the hard copy proofs in archival sheet protector sleeves as well as a list of the source information for data on that person.

One of the biggest issues of the past online genealogy databases (Ancestry.com included) was the lack of citation for proofs.  So how do you know that distant relation was born in that state?  There is no proof or citation attached.  This means you need to seek out proof before you rely on that information heavily. 

Now organizing and having a plan is great and necessary. But one of the fun things about genealogy is seeing where it takes you!  Being too strategic and focused may make you miss something that turns out to be valuable.  Because I decided to chase a family line I'd not looked into before instead of working on the Millsaps, I found a new American Revolution patriot, Obed Sanders.  Now I do have to give some credit to an inquiry on Ancestry.com about whether we were related.  We've not found a relationship...yet... but I did find Obed.  But another one of those forays lead me to incorrect Mayflower Society eligibility for my husband and at one time I thought I'd traced my family to Odin (yes, the Viking god). So use care and watch the citations!

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