Tuesday Tip – Add a Field Called Research Question to Roots Magic! (Blog 317)

I love researching Shackford Family History but have to admit that I’m not a very focused genealogy  researcher.  Many times while searching for a  information about a specific Shackford I’ll come across other semi-related information and will go totally off track in my research efforts.  I might spend hours or even days working on my “off track effort” with the belief that I’ll use that information sometime later for research on that other person. Days later I realize that I didn’t make much forward movement in my original research about a particular Shackford.

While I was recently  Dear Myrt’s Gen Tools Webinars and thinking about the various tools I use for my research, I developed an idea to help me focus.  The discussion about other researchers use of  Word, Evidentia, their genealogy software, and many other tools to help them organize their genealogy research led me to realize that I have the tools to help myself focus.  I recognized that to improve my focus I needed to spend the time to write out the main research question I have for each person I’m researching and focus my research on that particular question.  So I created a new field in RootsMagic called Research Question (see below) and used the Notes section to summarize the facts that help me answer that one key question.

I tested out this new field with Joshua Chase, born about 1782, the son of Joshua Chase and Mary Shackford (daughter of John Shackford and Deborah Seaward, grand daughter of Paul Shackford).  I’ve already searched for his birth record to no avail.  However I was puzzled by a comment in John Carrol Chase’s book about the Descendants of Aquila and Thomas Chase which states that William Plaisted became the guardian of Joshua Chase who was authorized to sell land inherited from Paul Shackford but also infers that Joshua’s father Dr Joshua Chase was still alive.  I found the Essex County Probate Records discussing this land sale but wondered why would a guardian have been appointed if the father is living and why William Plaisted who does not seem to be family member.  So I started with this research question “What document appoints William Plaisted as guardian of Joshua Chase?”

RootsMagic screen Joshua Chase Research Question

Right after I started creating Research Questions in my RootsMagic, Randy Seaver’s January 31, 2016 Best of the Gene-Blogs included a reference to a fabulous article by Harold Henderson on the Board for Certification of Genealogists titled Ten-Minute Methodology: How to Ask Good Research Questions  which states “a specific question is a magical thing. By concentrating our attention we focus on the right person and learn more than we expected about him.”

From this article I learned that I needed to improve my Research Question which now states “What document appoints William Plaisted as guardian of Joshua Chase, born about 1782 in Portsmouth, the son of Dr Joshua Chase and Mary Shackford ?”

And yes – when we concentrated on this one question we learned unexpected things about Joshua resulting in more research questions which we’ll share in a future blog.

All posts on this website are a work in progress.  We’d love to learn of any corrections or additions to the information shared.  Also we’d love it if  you’d like the post here or at http://www.facebook.com/shackfordgenealogy) as that helps share the post with others. Thanks!


Chase John Carroll and George Walter Chamberlain, Seven Generations of the Descendants of Aquila and Thomas Chase (Derry, New Hampshire: Record Publishing Company, 1928), page 80; digital image, FamilySearch.org (https://dcms.lds.org : accessed 10 January 2016

“Essex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1638-1881,” digital images, American Ancestors (http://www.americanancestors.org/databases/essex-county-ma-probate-file-papers-1638-1881 : accessed 30 January 2016), Joshua Chase, minor, Essex County, MA Probate Case File No. 5145.

Henderson, Harold, Guest Author, Ten-Minute Methodology: How to Ask Good Research Questions Board for Certification of Genealogists Springboard, http://bcgcertification.org/blog/2016/01/ten-minute-methodology-how-to-ask-good-research-questions/

Seaver, Randy, Best of the Genea-Blogs – 24 to 30 January 2016, Genea-Musings, http://www.geneamusings.com/2016/01/best-of-genea-blogs-24-to-30-january.html

Copyright 2017 Joanne Shackford Parkes  (sharing a link to this post is appreciated but please do not just copy this material and paste it elsewhere)


One thought on “Tuesday Tip – Add a Field Called Research Question to Roots Magic! (Blog 317)

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