Friday, August 31, 2018

Follow Up Friday–Trying a New Research Technique

Finding records on my ancestors in the early 1800s I knew would be difficult.  What should I do? 

In my last post entitled Trying Out a New Research Technique: Finding Ancestors in the Early 1800s I described a research technique I heard about in a workshop at Jamboree.  I developed a research question and listed all the possible sources where I could look for the answer.  I was pleased at how many suggestions I was given from readers, many of which I have used in the past, that I could add to my list of possible sources of information.

I tried searching in serval sources and found a lot of great information on my maternal 3x great-grandmother Amanda Johnson Browning’s grandparents, her marriage to William Browning, etc. Great information for other stories but what about

my research question:  When and where was Amanda Johnson born?

I had to keep refocusing myself to my research question.  The additional information is great but I needed to stay on track and answer my question.  (Those rabbit holes sure are intriguing.)  After several days of research I started looking in a book that was on my list of sources that might have information.  The book was by the author H. C. Bradsby entitled History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania: with biographical selections.   The link for the book I had listed in my spreadsheet from the Family Search Wiki didn’t work but I found the book on Ancestry when I searched Pennsylvania, Bradford County in the Card Catalog.


I was familiar with this author’s name and his work is listed on the website Tri-Counties Genealogy and History Site-Bradford and Tioga County (PA) and Chemung (NY). I have found his information to be very useful in the past.  At the time I thought this was the same book on my list but it was another book by another author.  (I used my original spreadsheet to research from and realized this book was on my spreadhseet but I somehow left it off when transferring the information to my blog post-oops.) 
Here is what I found:


Orwell township is in Bradford County, PA and I knew Amanda had married William Browning.    SUCCESS!  My research question is answered. Happy dance time!

Some thoughts on this research technique I had not used before:
  • I have to admit that it was very difficult to not just start hitting SEARCH with each record source I found when I was making my initial list.
  • Coming up with a list of possible sources to research was very helpful even if it seemed time consuming to set up on the front end.  I have short time periods here and there to search with working full time.   When I have the time to sit down for a few minutes I search haphazardly for information.  Having the list of sources made my time searching much more focused and actually more productive.  I didn’t need to stop and think about what I had already done because I kept results of my searches in my spreadsheet.
  • My list of sources of information will come in handy as I continue to search for information on Amanda’s life.
  • I have other family lines from this area of Pennsylvania.  Now that I have developed a list of resources for this county I can use that list to search other family lines as well.
  • Even though you think you are familiar with an author’s work look for other titles by the same author.  I wonder why Mr. Bradsby collected this information?  Was he paid to record the information or was it a hobby?

I will definitely use this research technique again!  Thank-you Annette Burke Lyttle

In future posts I will talk about 2 interesting finds while I was researching Amanda’s birth information.

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,


  1. This is just the kind of thing I need to be doing, more purposefully. The hardest part is figuring out what sources might be available, where they are, and whether it is worthwhile paying for them (if not on line). Congratulations on getting your specific question answered, and on to the next!

    1. Thank-you Janice! I made a lot of my list by looking at the Family Search Wiki. Good luck with your searches.

  2. Way to go! Staying focused is a huge problem for me. I'll sit down with no direct question and no idea of which family I want to work on. The next thing you know I’m all over the place and down those rabbit holes I go. I need to take a look at this research plan. Thanks Debby ��

    1. Oh, I so understand! With such limited time to search I think I will do this a lot more. Thanks, Diane.

  3. Loved this post, and your previous one. I, too, find it challenging to focus on one research question at a tempting to veer off when other items of interest pop up. Your posts illustrate the benefits of staying focused, which we can all learn from.

    1. Thanks Molly! Yes, those bright shinny objects are hard to resist. I collected a lot of other information for Amanda's parents and grandparents and had to put that away for later. Now to find confirmation of Amanda's death.