31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 1: Decide What You Want to Find

Amy Johnson Crow has been sharing on her Generations Cafe Facebook Group a prompt each day for May. They are based off of her book 31 Days to Better Genealogy that you can buy on Amazon (shown below).

Day 1 of 31 Days to Better Genealogy is: Decide What You Want to Find. This is essentially the same as saying to create a research question. She talked about it helping to focus your research. I know that I have only been “formally” coming up with research questions for the past year or so. Although, before that, I had grown enough to have developed informal questions or plans when I was researching.

I remember spending a day at the Family History Center on Maple Rd. a few years ago. I was trying to find a marriage record for Michael Gollwitzer and Margaretha Gleisner (which I was successful!) and I was sitting next to a nice gentleman that was asking the volunteer for help. The gentleman was all over the place. He was bouncing around all different branches of his family tree on various websites and not focused at all. I remember he was excited with what he had found (as that was evident with him showing off parts of his tree), but when the volunteer tried to answer his questions or offer advice on how to take the next step, the gentleman wasn’t listening. It was like his brain couldn’t hear it.

I remember feeling frustrated, in that I wanted to help, but it wasn’t my place. I felt that he was just wasting his and the volunteer’s time that day. Here I was feeling so happy and accomplished in that I found the desired marriage record. This poor gentleman may never experience the same sense of accomplishment that I did if he didn’t focus and that made me sad for him.

I have never forgotten that day and wondered how many times in my early researching days that I may have behaved in the same manner and, essentially, wasted precious time. I’m glad that I’ve grown to focus my researching a bit more and try not to get distracted by those Bright Shiny Objects (BSOs). Squirrel!


Here is the marriage record that I found! They were married on 6 Nov 1849 at St. Louis Church, Buffalo, NY.

Catholic Church St. Louis (Buffalo, New York), Baptisms 1881-1897 Marriages 1829-1910, Michael Gollwitzer and Margaretha Gleisner (1849); FHL microfilm 928,700, a digital copy of record is stored on the Sheliga Family Tree on Ancestry.com. I cannot provide more detail as to where in the film the marriage record is held as this used to be searchable at a Family History Center, but is now only available on microfilm at the Family History Library.

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