Have you ever found yourself scouring through records online, such as at http://www.ancestry.com/ or at the Family History Library Catalog at http://www.familysearch.org/, and come across records that sound familiar, but you can’t decide on whether or not you’ve already searched some of those records? Or, perhaps you’ve been in the process of looking through material, and discover only after a good amount of time spent, that you’ve already searched that particular source? We always want to avoid the duplication of research by others, but how often do we duplicate our own research? I know I’ve looked at the same records several times, only to discover that I had already searched them, and only after some serious time spent on the record, something shows up that reminds me that I’ve already been there.
Well, I found a solution that, at least, works for me. I call it my Research Inventory Sheet. For each county that I’m interested in, I create a form, and make an entry for each record relating to that county, that I’ve searched, be it in book or microfilm form. Here’s how I do it. In Microsoft Excel, I create my own form, with column headers, as follows: Title, Author, Publisher/Location, Result. I think the headers are pretty well self explanatory, but I’ll explain a bit. TITLE is obvious. Under PUBLISHER/LOCATION, I’ll list everything about who published the material, and where and when I found it. If it’s a book that I found at the Library, I’ll include the Call#. Under RESULT, I simply list, in summary, what was found, and any notes that I may need to find the entire contents of the record which I have filed in my own filing system. Of course, at the top of the page, I allow for an entry as to County of Research and Surname(s).