It’s important to stay organized when researching your Irish family history. Organization helps you avoid doing duplicate research, and also allows you to make sure you are covering all possible sources for finding your ancestors. Many professional and amateur genealogists find that creating a research plan is extremely helpful in keeping them on track in their research. A research plan can be as simple as a linear “to-do” list, or it can be a complex, multi-page document of narrative and notes. Here’s a basic, customizable Irish genealogical research checklist to help you keep your family search organized.
1. Gather all the existing family history documents you own, and write down the information contained therein.
2. Find out what Irish family history documents other people in your family may have, and see if they’ll allow you to make copies or take transcriptions of the information in those documents.
3. Contact all of your oldest living relatives and interview them about the family’s past. Get names, dates, and places of past events and people from them, but also be sure to get their memories and childhood stories, as these are priceless treasures.
4. Buy a family tree software program (we recommend Family Tree Maker), and record all the information you’ve gathered thus far.
5. Do research online to discover whether anyone has already done extensive genealogical research on your Irish family.
6. Buy a subscription to the World Deluxe collection on Ancestry.com, as this gives you access to a treasure trove of Irish records.
7. Start a spreadsheet to record all of the sources you’ve checked so far and keep adding to it as you check additional sources. This will keep you from re-doing research you’ve already done.
8. Look for free online databases of Irish research to fill in any gaps in your genealogy so far. For example, if your ancestors came through Ellis Island, you can look up immigration records at the Ellis Island website for free. If you know your ancestor’s religious denomination, you can often find church records online for free, as well.
9. Buy a subscription to The Origins Network for access to even more hard-to-find Irish genealogy records.
10. Conduct research using your Origins Network subscription.
11. Write to the General Registry office in Ireland for original copies of vital records and land records that you weren’t able to find online.
12. Put all of your research together in your family tree program and determine what direction you want to take any research you do in the future.
By staying organized when working on your Irish family history, you’ll save yourself much time and effort, and greatly improve the accuracy of your work. Using the above checklist, or one you make yourself, will keep you on the right track to finding your Irish ancestors and learning amazing things about their lives. In turn, this knowledge will greatly enrich your own life…..and isn’t that the whole point of genealogy?