The definition of insanity according to Einstein is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Sometimes genealogy can feel that way - and even with research plans - the names and searches can get "old". So I took a break. And when I came back I started to find new things because my mind was fresh. Here are a few reasons why taking a break is a good idea and what to do after your "vacation" is done:
- As I said, the names get stale and starting anew brings back some excitement. So this is the mental aspect that needs renewal.
- Experienced genealogists will tell you that even though you have substantial records and have even provided some genealogical "proof", that is sometimes a good idea to "start over." This may allow you to look at your records possibly a bit more completely and in a different light.
- One thing I did was to revisit categories of records - such as marriage licenses and certificates. I went through every image that I had stored, resized them and cropped them and then started to reanalyze them. When I first began way back when I hadn't paid much attention to the witnesses at the ceremony. By documenting those and studying them - it enabled me to do some additional research that helped me. Also by studying the records again, I found that I had not previously paid attention to which marriage it was for some of the individuals. Even decades and a hundred years ago there were divorces and second and third marriages. By looking at just that one line on the license it enabled me to determine why some children had a different name than their mother and tie them to their biological father from the mother's previous marriage.
- I revisited some source citations that I had done years ago that were woefully incomplete and in a few cases inaccurate. Again the revisiting of these records and the accompanying analysis provided better family tree accuracy.
- I even decided to delete some names from my tree. For some this is heresy, but for me I knew that these folks really didn't add any value to my future work. They were so far from my main descendants (such as third husbands of fourth cousins) that I safely felt that deleting them wouldn't cause me to miss anything important. Some may disagree with this, but then again its my research and my tree.
So you might want to try and take a break from your research and when you come back, try a few different approaches with a fresh set of eyes.
What do you think? Has a break from research helped you and why?