The long, cold month of January is here, and with it, an excellent opportunity to do some new and interesting genealogy projects that are just perfect for this time of year. Just because it’s freezing and possibly snowy outside doesn’t mean you don’t have plenty of things to do with your genealogy research to keep you busy. In fact, some projects are more suited to January than any other month. Here are ten “must-do” genealogy projects for January.
1. Make Your Research Plan for the Year
While you’re mostly housebound due to the weather, it is an ideal time to decide what your genealogical research focus is going to be for the coming year. You may want to start working on branches of the family you haven’t gotten to yet, do deeper research on branches of the family you’re extremely interested in, or a mix of both. Laying out a plan of action for your approach to the new year’s research will keep you on track as you go, and make sure your research is as flawless as it can be.
2. Make Travel Arrangements for Any Genealogical Excursions
If your research plan for the new year involves any travel to ancestral towns, or even homelands, you can save a lot of money by booking the trips now. The farther out you book your trips, the less money you’ll generally spend on them. If you’ll be driving there, decide on which hotels you’ll stay in along the way there and back, and while you’re there. Also, make a list of the places you need to visit while you’re in the locations you’ll be going, such as historical societies, libraries, courthouses, cemeteries, and local archives.
3. Put Away Loose Research Items
If you’ve collected any research items during the year that you haven’t organized into binders or files, now is the ideal time to do it. Get your research all organized and tidied up for the coming year, and it will be much easier for you to keep track of what you’ve done and what you still need to do on various family branches.
4. Review Your Work from the Previous Year to Get New Insights
Looking over your research from last year can give you new insights into your work. You may discover details, patterns, and even information you didn’t notice the first time you compiled it. Reviewing it allows you to make sure your family history research is as complete and detailed as it can be.
5. Read a New Genealogy Research Book
While you’re staying indoors due to the cold, why not take the opportunity to improve your research skills by reading a new book on a genealogical research technique you haven’t used yet? You’ll be able to use the information you gain to improve your research in the future and add to research you’ve done in the past.
6. Read a New Book on the History of One of Your Ancestor’s Towns or Counties
While you’re at it, read a history of one of your ancestor’s towns or counties. You’ll likely discover a lot you didn’t know about the way your ancestor lived, and maybe even a little bit about your ancestor, if he or she is mentioned in the book.
7. Organize Your Digital Photos from the Previous Year
This is a perfect time to download all of your digital photos from your phone that you took last year and put them on your computer. Organize them into files labeled by family and person, and give the photos names including the dates they were taken, where they were taken, and the people who are in them. – learn more
8. Work on One New Chapter of Your Family History Book
Each month, you should work on one chapter of your family history book, if you are writing one. Take the entire month to write the chapter. If you’ve finished a book on one family line, start a new book on another family line with the beginning chapter.
9. Add Your Christmas or Other Holiday Cards to Your Genealogy Collection
Christmas and other holiday cards are important parts of your personal genealogical collection about your own life, to save for your memories and for future generations. Keep the envelopes they came in, then scan the envelopes and the cards, keeping each envelope with its card, and place them in an appropriate file folder on your computer, labeled with the year, the holiday, and your name. You can keep the physical cards and envelopes if you want to, as long as you organize them into appropriate physical binders or files.
10. Take an Online Genealogy Class
Use this time to take an online genealogy class. There are plenty available out there, from beginning to intermediate to advanced level classes. You can always improve your research skills. Plus, taking an online class allows you to interact with other genealogists, have fun, and alleviate some of the boredom that often comes with the coldest month of the year. Sign up now to secure your spot in the class you want to take the most.
Will Moneymaker founded Ancestral Findings back in 1995. He has been involved in genealogy research for over 20 years. The thrill of the hunt, the adventure, and the excitement begin when he started investigating the meaning of his surname. Why I Love Genealogy (And You Should, Too!)