Making "Rough Notes" better
We’ve all done it. We unexpectedly find something. I did it a year or two back. Visiting York Minster I came across a tomb of someone who was connected (not related) to my family and the inscription was going to be helpful. But I had no paper nor pencil. At the shop I borrowed a pen and took a free leaflet so that I could jot down the details. I also took a picture with my phone.
When I got home and unpacked the car the leaflet got placed on one of the paperwork piles and when I eventually came to enter the information the leaflet was lost. (And remains lost.) Fortunately, I had the picture. So here is my first tip.
- If you are making rough notes then copy them onto a computer or paper based database as soon as possible. I keep all my rough notes, but my wife always destroys them after she has transferred the information.
- If you keep your notes like me it is better to use an A4 hard back note book. Hard backs store better on shelves and look better.
- Start the notes for each session on a fresh page / sheet of paper
- At the top of every page / sheet write (In case the sheets get miss-filed.) The date The place you are getting the information from (e.g. Chorley Library or Ancestry) The sheet number. This latter one is for those who use loose leaf pads.
- Write down what you are looking for E.g. Searching for Will of Thomas DIXON b. 1802, estimated date of death 1837-1850 or E.g. Blanket search for all births with surname TWEEDALE at St. Chad's, Rochdale 1600 – 1900 This is to help you keep your focus and the information you need is right there.
- Next write The name of the record you are searching (The Source) E.g. 1851 Census The reference number HO107/4625 or E.g. A book - Copeland Wills (1541-1857), Cumbria Family History Society
- When you find something Write down where you found it. (Part of Citation) E.g. 1851 Census The reference full number HO107/4625/F15/P12/S4 or E.g. A book - The Chapter and page number and if necessary the line number
- When you find something. Write down an exact transcription of the entire entry (Part of Citation) E.g. 1851 census – “Wellington Place, St. Cuthbert’s Parish, Darlington, County Durham, England Christopher Crawford Chapman, Head, Wid, M, 64, Groom, West Leyton, North Riding of Yorkshire, England Mary Ann Chapman, Daughter, Unm, F, 37, Not indicated in census, Darlington, County Durham, England John Chapman, Grandson, Unm, M, 9, Scholar, Darlington, County Durham, England" E.g. A book "DIXON Thomas 1847 (Parish) Arlecdon - Rheda, WA (Will and Admon), (Film Frame) 329, (Film Number) MM2200"
- It's a good idea to photograph or photocopy or print a copy of the original document.
- If your search resulted in nothing then write down that you didn't find anything.
- If you did not have time to complete your search then write down how far you got.