Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Passive RAK & Research in Five Minutes a Week

Have you ever asked yourself:
  • How can I help other genealogists without doing anything beyond whatever I happen to be doing for myself?
  • How can I get help from other genealogists on a regular basis at no cost to me and no inconvenience to them, especially help I don't even know I need?
There's a one-word answer to these questions: Diigo. It's my favorite research tool. With the right settings, Diigo has handed me a number of documents on a virtual silver platter. And with very little effort on my part, I've probably made it possible for other Diigo users to enjoy the same kind of good luck.

The first key to what I call passive RAK and research is to join and participate in an active Diigo group. Moultrie Creek (of Family Matters fame) created the Genealogy Research Resources group in February 2007. As of today, the group has grown to 134 members, and they have shared 1890 bookmarks with the group.

The second key is to download and install the Diigo toolbar, which enables your passive RAK (Random Acts of Kindness). As you do your own genealogical internet surfing, you'll find websites that may be of interest to another researcher, and using the toolbar, you can quickly bookmark and share them to the group in just a couple clicks. When I bookmark a site, I often copy and paste into the bookmark a little of the introductory material from the page. If none is available and the title of the page doesn't provide enough of an explanation of the site's content, I write a very brief explanation of my own.

The third key, which provides your passive research, is to enable a daily or weekly email digest of websites your group members have shared. You can do this when you join a group, and if necessary, you can change your setting later on the My Groups page. I choose to receive a daily digest. The digest, delivered to your email inbox, has clickable links to all websites shared to the group that day, along with any descriptive material the bookmarker added. I can easily ignore any site that clearly is of no use to my own research, but I click on any link that may interest me.

I can't begin to tell you how many times I've found items I didn't know existed. On one memorable occasion, a group member shared a newspaper website to the group and before the day was over, I had unearthed dozens of newspaper articles and one-liners about my great-grandmother, including minute-by-minute descriptions of her graduations from both high school and, the following year, normal school.

There's no need to worry that you'll be overwhelmed with email. After all, 1890 websites have already been shared to the group. You'll have to go looking for those. At Family Matters, Digital Archives Exploding Online explains how. And for more help, visit my Diigo list entitled Diigo Tips for Genea-Bloggers, which has links to additional helpful articles at Family Matters and elsewhere.

Am I preaching to the choir here? If you're not already singing Diigo's praises, you might be missing out on just the help you don't know you need. Join us!


Judith Richards Shubert said...

Thanks for this post, T.K. I haven't heard about Diigo, or if I have, don't remember it. I plan to check it out asap.

Wanted to say I appreciate your following my blog.

T.K. said...

Likewise, Judy! I haven't had much internet time in the past six months so I've been feeling pretty out of touch. I'm really enjoying the process of catching up with the blogs I follow, well over a hundred, so obviously I will never actually 'catch up' but am at least having a great time visiting them a few at a time.

Blog Archive


Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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