When I'm visiting archives or libraries, I need to make sure that I have all the information I need with me. There's nothing more infuriating than travelling somewhere to do some research, only to discover that you have left that vital piece of paper at home!

One way I make sure that disaster doesn't strike is to write my research plans before I start in Microsoft OneNote. If you use the Microsoft Office suite of programs, you may already have this on your computer - it's that purple square with the 'N' in the middle :) There are other similar programmes such as Evernote, but this is the one I use. I can put in here the information I have and plan out which documents I need to look at when I'm at the archives.

The thing about OneNote that I love is the free app that works on my iPad - if I sync all my OneNote files via my Windows Live ID (a Hotmail account also works) they automatically download to my iPad. Likewise when I get home, any changes I've made while I've been out are synced back to my computer. So all I have to do is to type into OneNote what I find, and it's right there - no transcribing back or transferring files, it's all done automatically.

The only thing I would say is that not all archives and libraries have wi-fi internet access, so remember to sync your files before you leave home.

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Having ordered a marriage certificate for my great great grandparents, I was looking for confirmation of which of my two 'possibles' was really my great great grandmother Harriet's father. But guess what? It wasn't either of them!

Harriet herself was recorded as a minor and a spinster. Nothing unusual in that. However, the man named on the certificate as Harriet's father had a completely different surname. I assumed it was her stepfather and that perhaps her real father was dead. Her real father should still have been named on the marriage certificate, of course, but this was in 1837 in the first year of civil registration, so perhaps no one was quite sure what the rules were about what should be recorded. 

Harriet was married in the same parish where she was born (or so I believe from later census entries). So I looked for a marriage between the man named on the marriage certificate as her father and an (unknown) woman with Harriet's surname. Not only did I find nothing, but I found no marriage in that locality for Harriet's supposed father at all.

I looked in the banns book for the parish to see if there was any reference to either parent (since Harriet was a minor, she should only have been marrying with the permission of a parent or guardian) but there was nothing helpful written down there. In fact it was worse, as the groom's surname was spelt wrong!

In case you're wondering, I can't find Harriet's baptism record at the moment - it is pending a visit to the county record office to look at the original parish records which are not available anywhere else. I'm expecting to find that there was no father named at her birth, but you never know.

Meanwhile, I did have some success with another great great grandmother from another branch of the family - I found her baptism record which finally proved that not only was she illegitimate with no known father, she had a twin brother. Unusually for twin births in those days (1815) both survived and lived to a ripe old age, as did their mother.

Back to client research next week....

Happy New Genealogy Year

A bit of a slow start genealogy-wise this year, although things should start speeding up next week. Meanwhile I have been enjoying the holidays and taking the opportunity to tidy up some of my own family history documentation. As a result I went back to check some old information (obtained in the old-fashioned way in a record office, before the days of online databases and browsable images) and found a sizeable chunk - OK, about 50 people - who had been linked to my family in error. And yes, it was I who did it, so I cannot blame anyone else! It happened so long ago I can't remember why I thought this particular branch 'belonged' to my family - perhaps it was just wishful thinking.

Anyway, as a result of my 'tidying' I now have a new branch to research to replace the one that shouldn't have been there, so lots more fun in store.

Moral of the story: CITE YOUR SOURCES!

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