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First Step to Start Research: Focus Your Research!

Updated: Jun 2



Ok, you are probably thinking what do I mean? I am going to start telling you about the first mistake I made when I first started my research eight years ago.

After so many years of finally thinking about doing my family’s Genealogy I sat down and started. I wanted to know everything! So I sat and input all the data for all four grandparents. I was so excited to see all those leaf hints and going in and discovering all the documents and names of ancestor’s that I did not know. And…that is where the problems started, name after name of great grandparents, 2nd great grandparents, 3rd great grandparents and so on and so on. I started to lose track, I started to jump from maternal grandmother to paternal grandfather to paternal grandmother to maternal grandfather. It got crazy and it got overwhelming!! So I stopped and decided to seek advice because this was starting to be a bit stressful. That is when I learned my first lesson, Focus Your Research!


Focusing your research means to decide who do you want to focus first and just work on that person or line. For example for me while I want to know everything, once I was truly honest with myself I realized that I really wanted to know about my paternal grandmother. I never met her since she had passed when my father was 10 years old. So I refocused my research on her and came up with a research question: “Who were the parents of Faustina Maldonado mother of my father, wife of Rogelio Alicea who lived in Cataño, Puerto Rico and died in 1969 in Bayamon, Puerto Rico at the age of 42?”. Once I had my very specific research question, it changed everything! Doing this helped me focus so much better and it also helped to slow me down and really look at the documents. Good thing I did because in my first round I missed quite a few details that now ended up helping me more. This is why it is so important to focus your research because you will end up getting more out of it that can help you break down those brick walls that will surely come. It will help you think of strategies and different sources that you can take a look that otherwise you would not have thought of, because who can think clearly when they are overwhelmed? From barely having any information for my paternal grandmother it is the line I have been able to go the furthest in that if I had not refocused I would not have accomplished so much. So remember:


1. Think about who you want to know the most about, where do you want to start?


2. Come up with a specific research question and no worries this question will change as you start discovering more information, but it gives you a clear starting point.

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