Genealogy in 15 Minutes a Day (or Less)

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We just started a new genealogy column in our weekly newsletter called Genealogy in 15 Minutes a Day (or Less). If you do not receive this FREE newsletter, sign up now and stay up to date and everything that is happening at

This column has been designed to provide our users with ideas for taking genealogy in small bites, savoring each step on a daily basis. By spending only fifteen minutes or less a day, a person can (theoretically) spend nearly four days straight on genealogy over the course of a year.

This may not seem like much, but for a busy person, it’s over half a week dedicated simply to doing genealogy. If a person wants to, an increase to twenty minutes a day is another day added, and a decrease to ten minutes a day allows for about two and a half days’ worth. For those scared of genealogy, two days out of 365 should not seem too treacherous.

None of the tips in this column must be done in any particular order. Just done, period. Whether it takes all of the hour and three-quarters worth of time devoted to the task or less does not matter.

Do not feel like you have to do everything in under the amount of time specified. Do not feel like you have to extend the time period, either.

If it takes more than an hour and a half, and if you want to, keep working on a given task for fifteen minutes a day until the job gets done. This is meant to be quick, easy, and painless. It is less than the time needed for watching one movie during the week– Genealogy for those who don’t normally like genealogy.

This week: Use of Google Alerts

Day 1
What already exists on your family? Instead of taking fifteen minutes every day and searching every surname, use a computer to do it for you: Google Alerts allows you to search daily, weekly, or even as-it-happens for a particular search term, whether that is a surname, a county, or an individual ancestor. I have current alert set for Forson, Gawthrop, Kinner, and other names that are relevant to my personal interests.

Day 2
Read what comes up from the alerts. During the first batch of search results, you are learning to filter out what is relevant and how to make the searches better and more specific.

Day 3
Modify search terms for Google Alerts to make the information more specific.

Day 4
If you come to relevant search terms giving information on the people in question, follow the links and read the information given there.

Day 5
Record relevant information into your genealogical data management software. Make sure to include bibliographic citations.

Day 6
Send an email to the online submitter or publisher of the information found in Day 5 to see whether or not they have more information, expressing that you are interested in sharing information.

Day 7
Check for new information on a given ancestor. This means going to Quick Search and typing in the surname for an ancestor and narrowing the search results by state or area (as needed). Look over the information that comes up.

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