Saturday, February 26, 2011

Emily's Genealogy Rules

I've been researching my family tree for years (some years more intently than others), and I've come up with some "rules" of the process. Some are serious. Some are funny. All are totally true (at least in my case.)

Emily's Genealogy Rules

  1. Question everything your family has told you about your family. I'm not saying they would lie or deliberately be evasive (a few of my family members would, but not all families are like mine, I hope), but they may not know the truth. A family legend is just that - a legend - and it's just a story until it's found to be true on some sort of record, be it marriage, birth, death or a newspaper clipping.
  2. When your significant other tells you that you are addicted and/or obsessed with genealogy, explain that there are much worse addictions, like shopping.
  3. Realize it takes time. Some things can be found by a quick Google search or by a quick trip to FamilySearch, but other records can take months or years to track down. It requires patience, persistence and lots of effort.
  4. Remember that not everything is online. Find-A-Grave is great, but it's not the be-all-end-all of cemetery records. Sometimes you have to get off your butt and outdoors to traipse through old cemeteries, or into libraries and other centers to go through archives.
  5. Keep careful records. Don't just use one program on the computer - make sure you back up your work and ALL your documents, plus print out everything you can.
  6. Sometimes it's going to be sad. 100 years ago infants died, women died in childbirth, and they didn't have the kinds of medications and life-saving stuff we have today. Understand it's going to be sad and you will most likely grieve for those you have never met and those who died a century before you were even born.
  7. Connecting to other genealogists is key. It doesn't matter if you have been researching for fifteen years or just got started tracing your tree last week - every genealogist you meet can give you some advice and a tip or two to help you along your journey. Don't hesitate to ask for help. It's out there. Read other genealogy blogs and comment on them.
That's all I have for now...I'm sure I'll add to it later on.

7 comments:

  1. Excellent post Emily. I agree completely...thank you.

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  2. What a great list of rules! I especially like #1 because even people who would never intentionally lie might be passing along something that is less than true. They are just repeating a family story and don't realize that grandma might have been fudging a little when she told the story to them.

    I would also add one more to your list - Check internet sources more than once. New things are coming online with great frequency so just because you came up with nothing when you searched a certain database 6 month ago doesn't mean there is nothing there now.

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  3. Great list! I agree that you need to question those family tales, but another rule could be don't dismiss them either. They often contain a grain of truth.

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  4. I popped over from geneabloggers. I'm Heidi. My family history blog is at familyhugz.com. I really enjoyed your rules.

    I, also, have been interested and involved with family history since my childhood. I loved great grandma's big Book of Remembrance.

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  5. Good list! Based on the amount of money I have spent ordering records from the National Archives I would argue that it might be as expensive as shopping! Thanks for sharing this.

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  6. Thanks, everyone! This is just the tip of the iceberg - I'll be posting more soon. :)

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  7. AWESOME...thanks for sharing these with us!

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