The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 1, 2013

Frankie Meyer: Research takes commitment to details

By Frankie Meyer
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — Family histories are compiled in various ways. Some people are satisfied after compiling lists of their ancestors with birth dates, death dates, marriage dates and names of children.

That type of researcher rarely takes the time to record the source of the information. After a few nights of Internet research, the person prints a copy of the "family history" and offers to make copies for everyone.

A few people only want to learn about ancestors who have a particular surname.

Several years ago while researching at a public library in Warrensburg, I overhead a man describe his bizarre approach to research. He boldly informed the genealogy volunteer that he was only searching for information on his male ancestors who had his surname. He wasn't interested in learning about their wives!

If you have worked on your genealogy for many years, you realize that the above types of researchers are naive. Family history research is time consuming, documentation of details is essential, and effective research involves learning about spouses, relatives, places and events.

How does one learn about books that have those types of details? One approach is to go online to your local library's website and do a search of the books to see which ones will be helpful. Take the list with you when you visit the library.

Another approach is to check the Internet site at books. When that site opens, enter a search word or term, such as a place, surname or event. When the next screen opens, the site provides photos of books that are about that subject.

If you click on a book, the site gives a brief summary of the book, as well as the complete title, author, number of pages, publisher, year of publication and ISBN. Snippets of the text are sometimes provided.

The site also lists libraries that have the book and places where it can be purchased. If the book is out of copyright, it can often be read free of charge at the Google site.

After you find a book that will be helpful, record the information about it. Next, visit your local public library. If the library doesn't have the book, ask about a program called Interlibrary Loans. For a small fee, the book can often be obtained from another library.  

Suggestions or queries? Contact: Frankie Meyer, 509 N. Center St., Plainfield, IN 46168 or e-mail