Following the shiny ball....

I was reading Kerry Scott's blog the other day, and this post really resonated.  When I do my research --especially online -- I am constantly having to remind myself about my search objectives.  I am so easily distracted by the "shiny ball" and turn on a dime to go cavorting down a completely tangential path.  Kerry absolutely nailed it:  dead people, dead people, squirrel!

Recently I joined a few of the online subscription data sites.  I have resisted this in the past because several local libraries have subscriptions I can access, so I didn't see the point.  Rootstech and the emphasis on collaborative cloud-based genealogy changed my perspective.  Capturing and citing sources is simply easier with online material (as opposed to my old method: downloading data into a flash drive and then into my computer, where it would be added to Bento and just sit there).

Fold3 is one of my new subscriptions.  Over the years I have done military research at the National Archives and, more recently, using Heritage Quest, so I thought I had pretty much all the data there was on my ancestors' military history (now...what is it they say about hubris?)  I've been on the site 24/7 lately -- what a wealth of material!  Dangerous, too, because I've been swept into the world of tangential research.... following all the shiny new distractions that I find.

What I love the most about Fold3 is that all names appearing in a record have been indexed, not just the name on the record itself.  So, I was looking at the Revolutionary War pensions for my elusive New York patriot, Richard Rhodes, when I noticed that his widow also made statements that were included in other people's pension files.  What luck!  But then (shiny ball moment) I thought I should check out all the pension records I've viewed in the past using Heritage Quest to see if I could find other cross references.

Too much fun!  I started examining them and quickly realized why Fold3 is such a valuable resource:  they have the full set of papers in a pension file.  For one of my ancestors, Heritage Quest shows me a 10-page file.  The same file on Fold3 contains 147 pages of letters, affidavits, and bible records!  With the added value of having an index of all names appearing in a file, I have been on a feeding frenzy, darting from one name to the next, gathering new data.  I definitely have the squirrel syndrome these days.

But here comes the big question.  How do I manage all this data?  While I still love Bento as a database tool, I find that I'm changing the way I use it.  I am a believer in open research:  once someone is dead, they belong to history and the information we discover about them should be available to anyone who is interested.  So whenever I discover a piece of data that I know belongs unequivocally to an ancestor, I will use either TreeConnect or Evernote and attach it to that person using FamilySearch.  The source citation travels with the link, so others can find the original material.  I'm not worried about losing the information because I feel confident that FamilySearch will be around for a long time.  I reserve Bento for those cases where I am still gathering clues and have not yet evaluated the evidence.

Essentially, I am only recording my data in the public tree.  I'm curious, though.  Does anyone else trust FamilySearch enough to do it this way?