In the series I wrote about going to the Family History Library last month, I mentioned that the experience of having access to so many microfilms at one time allowed me to see how records were organized on the films. This also changed the way I approach my research logs.
Several readers have asked me to elaborate on this. It is difficult to put into words, because my organizational system only makes sense to me. However, I will give it my best shot.
My research logs are mostly focused on events or people. For example, if I'm looking for a marriage date, all the information I have previously covered will be found in the notes for those two people in my database. I use RootsMagic. It has a "to-do list" feature and that's how I use it.
So if I'm searching for a marriage record for John and Mary Smith, the research notes for those people (or that fact in my database) will include the books I have checked, the county offices at which I've inquired, the FHL microfilms I've reviewed, etc, in search of a record. My intent is to know what I've already done so I don't repeat the same searches.
However, my week at the Family History Library gave me lots of time to see lots of records for a given area. Not all the marriage records for a county are on a single roll or concurrent rolls. Sometimes they're mixed up with the tax records, etc. On a given roll, item 1 could be marriages 1900-1904, items 2-3 could be tax rolls 1886-1887, etc.
I never noticed this because at home I can only order a couple film rolls at a time. The ones I've ordered thus far aren't as varied as all the ones I saw in Salt Lake City.
Now I see that my research logs also need to focus on the numbered film rolls, too, not just the event or person. So my notes will tell me that I have already looked at every single frame of film #1234567. That way, I won't order the same film multiple times, once for 1880's tax records, once for 1900's marriage records, etc. I will know I've already seen the whole thing, saving me time and money.
Hopefully I explained this right. Normally I don't comment on my own system or that of others because everyone does it a little differently. There is no right or wrong, just what works for you. And this adjustment is what works for me.