FamilySearch.org makes images available for browsing before the (computer) indexes to the collections are available. Recently some probate collections have come online, and I have made a couple of tries at browsing the collections to see if I can find research subjects. How can I make effective use of my time, when I can't view an entire 'microfilm roll' in one session?
Step one of my research plan might be: generate a checklist of deceased individuals whose probate records might be in the area and time covered by the record collection. The list should include the date of death and enough identifying information to recognize the person when I find their records. For some of the veterans, this might include dependents who were mentioned in their pension applications.
In more complex cases, step two: create a timeline. One of the estates I need to find was the subject of an extended dispute, and there are several newspaper accounts which refer to the court calendar, where the executor was required to make a new accounting. This should provide several pointers to when records might have been made.
Step three might be a search for indexes to probate records for that locality.
What else might be useful when browsing the records?
I need some kind of checklist to keep track of what rolls I've viewed already, or where I left off, if I had to stop in the middle, but I'm not sure what would be most useful. (One researcher I know created a Google Docs spreadsheet and made her own name index of the records as she went along.)
The specific collections I'm looking at are: Georgia, Probate Records, 1742-1990 and New York, Queens County Probate Records, 1785-1950 but I'd like to work up a checklist that would serve for any locality.
There is a related question: Are there checklists or templates made for visiting the Family History Library in Salt Lake City? -- what I'm trying to puzzle out is what elements need to be on a checklist.
Since I wrote the original question, a card index for administrations in Queens County New York has been published online, so I've found the record I was looking for in that county. See Using a card index to find Probate records.