Genealogy Lessons Learned

The blog prompt from the world of Geneabloggers is “Week #21: Lessons learned. Fess up to your research mistakes so others can learn from them.” Where do I begin? Seriously, I have done many things in genealogy the “correct” way. I had some excellent teachers early on in the dark ages of the 1980s. Did I listen to them all and do all that they recommended? Well, maybe not.

I am now someone who teaches other family historians through my writing, lecturing, and consulting. Do I always listen to my own advice. The honest truth? No. But, I mean well.

Here are a few of my lessons learned

1. Try to file paper away more frequently rather than let it pile up. The current view of my office stacks of paper is not for public viewing.

2. Do all years of city directories. I missed a couple years in the mid 1890s and years later kicked myself when I did check and found that several of the missing brothers of my great grandmother were listed at the same address as her.

3. I did not always copy the title page from a book when I made copies from the inner pages. That has led me back to libraries to get that info.

4. When you estimate the time needed at a courthouse or archive, double it. Or maybe triple it. I thought I was so smart I could get things accomplished faster that those who said that. I can’t make the clerk retrieve a volume of records any faster than anyone else. Standing in line at a copier is slow for me, too.

5. I figured I had plenty of time to interview certain relatives. Turns out I did not. I have a cassette tape recorder and a digital recorder. Now it’s too late for that older generation.

That’s enough fessing up for one day.

© 2009, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

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