Let’s face it. There are a lot of different resources out there that will help us track down elusive ancestors. It can be overwhelming. It’s tricky enough dealing with American ancestors. The problems multiply exponentially when you have to work your way back to one or more foreign countries. Over the years I have started putting together lists for patrons who need help, especially with foreign research. I create a list, store it, and add to it as I find more resources. If one person needs it, more will.
When I start a resource list, I pull together materials that I think will help a patron without overwhelming them. I always build off books we have here in the library. I can often request a purchase for a book we don’t have it if it is still in print. If not, I refer to holdings at other librarys. These books are usually within our (Minuteman) network, but not always. I can usually find at least one “how to” book that covers a specific country. I then use articles and Internet sources as supplements.
But once in a great while I can not find one book that zeros in on a specific country. Two examples of this are Spain and France. I have found no book entirely devoted to either country. Hispanic and French Canadian research, yes. But both involve research on this side of the Atlantic. I recently completed a list for Spain where I had to branch out beyond my usual resources. I thought this would be a good opportunity to explain various types of resources and where to find them. I’m hoping this will help you with your own research. You may even decide you want to make up a list for yourself or to help someone else.
Remember, if you are doing a research list, it can be short or long. It can be exhaustive or cursory. You can cover several categories or just one type of item like books or blogs. You create it to meet your needs. I would never attempt to create a list that was exhaustive unless it was for a large number of people interested in various aspects of one topic. An exhaustive list for just one person tends to be overwhelming and discouraging. It is fine to create a short list of particulars for yourself that also includes just general suggestions of where to go next. You could have a list of specific books that also includes “Check Cyndi’s List next” with a link.
If you do decide to create a list for yourself, I have one word of warning. Once you start looking for website suggestions, you will be tempted to explore a particularly enticing blog or website. Trust the voice of experience. (I make the mistakes first, then try to warn you away from doing the same thing.) It is best to finish up the areas you are trying to cover and then go back and explore. Otherwise your list may never get finished and you will miss items that may be of more use to you than the one you are exploring. You may want to delete the list of resources that do not work out for you. If it’s a list just for my own use, I have started copying and pasting the not so useful items to the bottom of the list under a heading like “Not Useful.” That way I don’t waste my time by rediscovering the same websites over time.
O.K., so where’s the list of resources? Here is your access if you want to see the list for Spain: RESOURCES FOR RESEARCHING SPANISH ANCESTORS. You should be able to click on this and take a look. If you know of any resources that I have missed, please let me know so that I can update my list.
Since this blog is already quite long, I have decided to make a separate blog entry for each type of resource you may want to use in your list. I’ve actually “cheated” a bit by finished all the postings and then adding each one in reverse order. All you have to do is read down. It is the first time I’ve tried this. Hope it helps.
Library website: http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog: https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide: http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy