Genealogy Mistakes that Everyone Makes (and How to Avoid Them)

There are some frequent family tree errors that researchers make. I used to be going to say that “learners make,” however truthfully, all of us make these errors. So listed here are the most typical errors in family tree… and how one can keep away from them.
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It’s a Mistake to Take Every little thing at Face Worth

the phrase, “Simply because it’s in print, doesn’t imply it’s true.”? You undoubtedly run into that as you’re researching your loved ones tree.

This performs out in loads of other ways. It might begin with these household tales you grew up with. The extra “improbable” the story or the longer in the past the occasions occurred, the extra possible it’s to be…. not fairly utterly correct.

One other method this performs out is what we see on completely different web sites or in books. For those who’ve explored a few of the massive family tree web sites like Ancestry, FamilySearch, or MyHeritage, it isn’t at all times apparent that there are completely different sorts of sources, every with their very own strengths and weaknesses.

One of the basic items to remember is that there’s a distinction between household bushes and information. Different folks’s household bushes might be nice clues… however they will also be completely and utterly mistaken.

Attaching issues to your tree simply because it’s in another person’s tree is a surefire technique to make a large number of issues. Consider it this fashion: If they’ve a era mistaken—say they’ve Robert’s father was John, however in actuality Robert’s father was William—every part previous that time within the tree is mistaken. For those who’ve connected that tree to yours, you’ve simply added a complete bunch of individuals that you simply aren’t associated to.

Going Too Quick Results in Errors

That ties into the following largest mistake that I see, which goes too quick. Ancestry and different family tree web sites make it really easy to see one thing and instantly connect it to your tree. It’s handy… generally a bit of too handy.

We’ll see a document pop up and at first blush it appears to suit, so we connect it to our tree earlier than we actually check out it.

Let’s say you’ve been looking for the passenger checklist on your ancestor John Johnson, who was born in England round 1875. Up pops a end result for a John Johnson arriving whenever you anticipated, so onto the tree it goes. The issue is that the document is definitely for a John Johnson born in Sweden in 1883. Oops.


One other method that we go too quick is when we don’t discover issues that we have already got. For those who’re simply getting began, don’t simply straight onto Ancestry. Discover what you have already got. Speak to your elders. See what papers, photographs, and paperwork you have already got.

For those who’re a extra skilled researcher, are you reviewing your earlier analysis? Are you going via your notes and information. It’s astounding what number of instances I’ve been in a position to reply a analysis query or a minimum of get an excellent lead simply by reviewing what I have already got.


Skipping Steps

It’s so tempting to discover a reality about an ancestor after which begin digging into one thing associated to it. Say you uncover that your ancestor residing in Chicago in 1930 was born in Eire, so that you instantly begin information in Eire. Do you actually know sufficient about that ancestor to have the ability to precisely determine him in these Irish information?

I see this occur with folks making an attempt to show a household legend. They heard Grandpa say that somebody within the household was one in all Abraham Lincoln’s bodyguards, so they begin looking for an inventory of all of Lincoln’s bodyguards and attempt to spot a well-recognized final title. The higher technique is to work from the recognized to the unknown. Hold researching your tree again till you get to the generations that may have been adults through the US Civil Battle after which dig into these ancestors’ Civil Battle service.

It might be that the supposed bodyguard was a daily ol’ personal who by no means got here near Abraham Lincoln, however like an excellent fishing story, the info acquired exaggerated over time.

Falling Right into a Rut

A mistake that hits genealogists of all ranges of expertise is falling right into a rut. They’ll discover a few web sites that they like, they usually find yourself limiting their analysis to simply these websites. (You may wish to take a look at this post on 7 free genealogy websites you should be exploring!)

We additionally fall into ruts of looking precisely the identical method or wanting on the similar sorts of information again and again. Right here’s the factor. There isn’t a “one measurement matches all” search technique. Additionally, various kinds of information gives you completely different data and result in extra tales about your ancestors.

The Keys to Extra Success (and Much less Frustration)

There’s a cause that I haven’t talked lots about information. In my expertise, the household historians who’ve probably the most success and the least quantity of frustration with their analysis are those who develop their sense of curiosity, not nearly their ancestors, however concerning the information and the analysis course of.

For those who’re new to family tree – and even should you’ve been doing this for awhile – don’t get discouraged whenever you don’t know one thing a couple of document or a sure analysis technique. Only a few folks come into family tree realizing all about these historic information and the way to use them.

Keep curious. Once you’re a document you’re unfamiliar with, take a minute and actually take a look at it. For those who’re on an internet site, is there something like an “about” web page or a “steadily requested questions” web page for that useful resource? Keep open to studying about completely different sorts of information and the way you should utilize them.


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