Get all my sources and citations in order…
That’s all, no big deal … unless you are a 20 year researcher with heaps of sources and many times more than that of citations. It’s a daunting thought. I was taught to use sources and citations right from the beginning, but my skills weren’t what they are today and I have known for a long time that many of those early sources need to be reworked and that will mean editing thousands of citations to get everything in line.
It never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t record enough information from a source so that they might go back and review it again, if needs be, never mind sharing the data and sources with another researcher. I volunteer at the Family History Centre where I live. I recently had a man come in wanting to review films that he had ordered years previously. He said he had extended them to permanent loan. He didn’t have the film numbers. The software to track the films has changed over the years and a lot of the films on permanent loan from years past are not connected to the names of the patron who ordered them. I suggested that surely he must have the film numbers in his records at home. No, apparently he didn’t record the film numbers in his notes. Seriously???
I guess I am lucky that I don’t have to go back to the beginning of my research (or even worse, my mom’s research) and find sources for all those facts. Mom was very organized and taught me her easy numeric filing system right from the beginning. With few exceptions, I can go into the records and pull out the desired documents within a few minutes. I have the research log she started in 1972 with the entry about her interview with my paternal Grandfather. I have since scanned all of it and am in the process of scanning all her research notes as well.
The best bit of advice I can give a genealogist just starting out is to document your sources meticulously right from the get go. You may think that you won’t be sharing information with others, but eventually you will, and they will want to know where you got the data. Do yourself a favour and save a lot of time and energy later…do it now!