Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Down The Rabbit Hole

dilemma pic

One thing I have realized is there is never a shortage of dilemmas when you are working on Genealogy. Sometimes a person doesn’t quite fit into your tree, but you are sure they do. Other times, no matter how hard you search you can’t find a birth or death certificate. I am amazed that I still have hair!


I believe part of my problem with finding the information I need is I am a shotgun researcher. I decide to work on one Ancestor, then I start searching for the documents I am missing. I do good for a while, going to as many different sites to find or verify documentation. My downfall is when a name comes up from one of my other Ancestors. “Oh look, there may be some information I can use on them too!” Down the rabbit hole, I plunge! The next thing I know is I have strayed far from my original goal and more often than not, I have forgotten what I started researching. It is like I shot the gun and the pellets go in all directions. It gets so frustrating.


Believe it or not, I am a very organized person. I can sit in my recliner and tell someone where anything is in the house. Not just the general area but the cupboard and shelf and which side it is on. My husband is always amazed because he is the disorganized one. So why, why, why, can’t I figure out a doable way of organizing my research approach? I have tried many methods but nothing clicks with me.

So, maybe one of you can help me? What works best for you when it comes to keeping track of your research? How do you organize it so you can go back to the original Ancestor you began with? I am open to all suggestions. Thanks in advance.



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

8 thoughts on “Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Down The Rabbit Hole

  1. Oh, boy, do I feel your pain! Like you, I am generally very organized. The problem is that tempting piece of information–particularly if the secondary person seems more interesting, exotic, rascally, etc. than the one I am supposed to be working on. Sometimes when for a short time, I am behaving myself, I keep a notebook at hand and jot down what I have found with a lot of detail so I can find it again, and put the person’s name in big letters at the top of the page. If I already have a file established on the “rabbit hole” person, I can put those notes in that file. Then I feel more relaxed about getting back to the person I am supposed to be working on, with some assurance that I won’t lose that particular rabbit hole . I wish I could say that I am disciplined enough to always do that, but I backslide more than I stick to my planned research path.

  2. I’m like you to an extend…for me the shotgun approach is my way of relaxing, but when I NEED to focus and find specific information, I follow the method from Research like a Pro by Diana Elder and Nicole Dyer. Also, Amy Johnson Crow did a recent podcast about her WANDER method, which is similar…these might help you 🙂

  3. I had to laugh when I read this Rabbit Hole post. I decided after reading it that I would work some more on a family genealogy that I had made some discoveries on last night. Turned on my computer and started straightening up my little corner and found an envelope of pictures that my sister had given me, some of the pics were from many years ago so I wanted to record on the backs of them who the people were. Also wanted to scan a couple of the pics I didn’t have. Ran across one pic that I already had but some wonderful soul had written the date of the event and the names of everyone so I thought I better find the pic in my computer or in my google photos and Identify the people. Decide to try and find it in google photos and in doing that I see a picture of a headstone I found a while back that actually said that the person was murdered in 1896. I didn’t remember that picture so I wanted to be sure I had attached that to the person in my tree it belonged to so got into and checked. Then noticed all kinds of green leaf hints on that family that I was sure wasn’t there before so I start checking those out. I then realize after a couple of hours that I have not done one thing I started out to do and decide “oh hell – I’m going to play solitaire” and that is MY rabbit hole story 😁

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