Attention Genealogists? Are You Shortchanging Your Family History?

It’s a common theme. I am a guilty party, too. Not on all of these, but partially on some. Are you?

  • Saying you have a brick wall because you have been looking everywhere online for info about a certain family member. It’s not a “brick wall” unless you have also been to every possible archive, courthouse, library, historical society or other repository and gone through all the great materials that are not digitized or even indexed. Yes, we need lots of time and a few lottery winning tickets but the answer might be out there.
  • Adding names to your family tree because Great Aunt Mary said her grandfather’s name was Samuel James Griffin? [If you had researched further you would have found out that apparently he went by the name Sam, but was christened as James Anthony Griffin. Sam? Who knows. My own mother often called my oldest son Sam and my daughter Sarah. Neither were their given or middle names. She was being “cute.”
  • Have you studied and studied and studied each document you have found? Have you typed it to help get every word into an easily read format? It’s also a way to get it ingrained in your brain!
  • What about sharing some of your research issues with another genealogist? Join a genealogical society to find like-minded individuals.
  • Do you know the origin of each document that is in your file folders either in the file cabinet or on your computer? If you have to revisit that part of the research to obtain something else could you find it again? It might be a probate file that you didn’t completely copy two years ago but now think that another of the pages in the file would be helpful. Why aren’t you citing all your sources including exactly where you found the item?

Are there other things you know you haven’t been doing? Don’t shortchange your own family history.

© 2015, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

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