My Research Log

As you probably realized by now, I use the Master Genealogist as my computer genealogy program. I am a big fan.

A few years ago I really got out of the data cleanup business from my import from Ultimate Family Tree and was able to really begin researching. Now when I say researching, I mean in the back of the courthouse in the musty books section, or using microfilmed images of old courthouse deed books. It was along that time that I decided to really start using the Research Log in TMG. Now there are a lot of things I would love to see the Research Log in TMG be able to do, and I have sent in a lot of wish list items in the last few years, but today I am going to focus on it’s power just as a research tool for me.

One of the things I had to do when I first started using it was to rethink what I consider to be a repository. TMG allows you to link tasks to repositories. However, I found that it did me little good to link 4 million tasks to the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Duh, if I am researching a marriage in TN, I am headed there. So I decided instead to make my repository the book, file folder, or roll of microfilm housed there. Now this has been far easier in TN than in any other state I have tried to research in because they have their entire microfilm collection inventoried and online. The one county I needed was Rutherford and it is not online, so I simply made a trip to Nashville to do research and copied the inventory myself.

Next was the task of setting up the repositories, one for each roll of film. That did take a while and was boring.

But here’s how one is set up for Roll 244 from Rutherford County.

I first created a custom Place Style in TMG for the repository:

Then filled in the fields as such:

Name of County: Rutherford County, TN
Book Type: Marriage Records 1-2 1881-1907 Index Book 2 1899-1914
Roll Number: Roll 244
Archives: Tennessee State Library and Archives
City: Nashville
State: TN
FHL Film Number: (I don’t have it for this roll of film since I used the TSLA films)

And then I began to set up tasks for people married between 1881 and 1914. And I purchased the film from TSLA and awaited it’s arrival. I have a microfilm machine at home so that allows me to research at home instead of having to travel. The films are a little pricey, but as you will see, I am going to find a lot of people on the film.

Once the films came, I just basically started on page one and read the names, searching my database for any familiar surnames. If I found the person, I created the source, and linked a task to the event, with the source and the above repository linked to the task. And I repeated that process over and over.

As I am researching, if I find evidence that someone was married in Rutherford County, I will also create a marriage task for them to remind me to look for them on the films and once I was done walking through the roll, I then did a list of tasks report and had a few people who I thought might be married in Rutherford County in that time period. So I then went back and checked the films for each of them.

And today I am wrapping up that one roll of film. I have 100 tasks attached to just this roll of film, most finished, a few I am still looking for and double verifying.

By careful naming of tasks, I can also see when I have added new tasks to the list even months after I think I have finished with a roll of film.

For instance:
Marriage (when a new task is created it gets this title which will sort it to the top of the list)
Marriage-Book 1, Page(s) 010 (when I find the book and page number I put them in this order. That way all Book 1 marriages sort together, and then by page number. If there were over a thousand pages in the book, I would have to use 0010 to get them to sort correctly. Just add a leading zero to the page number as the number of pages in the book goes up.)
Marriage-Book 1, Page(s) 010-Image (lets me know that I have a scanned image of this marriage attached to the tag.

This method isn’t for all users. In fact many TMG users don’t like it at all, but the few that have tried it, like me, find it is more helpful in keeping up with research. It works for me and so I share it to you.
It has made me much more organized in my research and totally eliminated the need for Keywords for me.

To me this is just one of the reason’s TMG is considered so powerful by it’s users.

Hope you have a wonderful Genealogy day!


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