‘Previous Research’ is the term used for finding others researching your family.
Perhaps it should now be ‘continuous previous research’ – because every second, new information will appear on the internet. You may have searched numerous sites, just before the previous research you really need may have been put online.
For our ‘Which Stalk Brought You’ research, we looked for other researchers firstly on www.ancestry.com.au, www.genesreunited.com and www.nzgdb.co.nz. I found someone in England and emailed.
You do need a goal, a project, a challenge for your previous research. We decided, because we had found a previous researcher and been given an 800-people gedcom, that rather than concentrating on further research backwards from our known couple in late 1700s, we would concentrate on finding descendants of the five children of this couple. We quickly ascertained the contact in England was descended from the daughter. Some of her family in South Africa (our famous family came to NZ via South Africa) are very interested in their family history and have a good collection of family memorabilia. A diary entry mentioned one of the sons with an address in New York.
Back to the three sites above, now looking for someone researching the family in New York. With an address, I was able to locate the family in the relevant US census. Find children marrying and having children, etc. Then yes – found the previous researcher! Now we could tap into their family memorabilia. With some guidance, the two found more previous researchers, including one in NZ. I really wanted to find living male descendants with the family surname. We quickly found descendants of the other siblings and added Australia to our search area.
How did we find a living male descendant? Through his sister’s obituary – her married name was most unusual.
I suggest you search for ‘obituaries xxxx (your place) xxxx (your surname)’. Also search for cemetery records – headstones can be most informative. Then check phone books (www.infobel.com covers the world). You usually need an area of a country to search, hence needing to find obits, etc.
I hate to mention the word: housekeeping! But you do need some system to keep track of what is found, by whom and where. Nominate one person to be the record keeper. I used www.treepad.com – you can’t save images on the free Lite version. This is important, so look at purchasing TreePad Plus (c$US30). Make a folder for the target couple, then their children and children’s children, etc. Have sub folders for images: census, vital records (B,D,Ms), phone books, etc. Make good use of a screen capture program – www.faststone.org is good. Copy and paste information from emails and Skype chats (www.skype.com).
Once proven, you can add images and text to your genealogy program