Common Family Tree Research Mistakes You Should Avoid

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Building your family tree can be an attractive and exciting hobby. It helps you learn more about your family’s past, and teaches you and your family members to have a deeper appreciation of your ancestor’s hardships and achievements. However, while each step in the family research will lead you to new discoveries, if you’re not too careful with your research, you may be heading the wrong direction, and you’ll end up finding the wrong set of relatives or descendants. Here are some common family tree research bloopers that you should avoid.

Not All You See on Print Is Accurate

If you believe that each family history item you see on paper or on print, is the real thing or the correct one, then you could be in for a rude awakening. As a family tree researcher, you should not make assumptions about the quality of research that’s done by other people. Each one can make mistakes, whether they’re professional genealogists or family members. Most printed family histories will certainly have a few minor or major errors, and some books or archived records, from cemetery, census to courthouse, will be missing some pieces of information, as well as have transcription errors.

Not All Online Family Records Are Accurate

The Internet is one fascinating source of genealogy information. However, Internet data, like other published material, will also have its fair share of errors and misconceptions. If you think that the information you’ve found seems the perfect match for your own family tree, don’t be too sure of that. Even online records will have some errors and missed-out details. The key to getting the right family history information online lies in separating the credible online data from the bad, by corroborating and verifying each detail you encounter. If possible, get into contact with the online researcher, and help them retrace their research steps if possible.

Talk To Your Elder Relatives Before They Pass Away

This may sound rude, but for first-time genealogy researchers, it would really help if you hear from your elder relatives first hand about your family’s history, before they pass away. Family members and relatives are the best sources for family history information, therefore visiting your relatives and talking to them regularly, should be at the top of your must-do list. But if you can’t visit them at the moment, you could write them, or you could ask a friend who lives near their place to send them a list of questions. You could send them a book or diary, where they can write their stories or personal reflections.

Most people often undertake family tree research because they share a surname with a famous individual, and will often assume that they may somehow be related to that famous person. While that assumption may be true, it’s important that you do not jump into conclusions once you start doing family history research. Remember to start with yourself, and work your way back to your ancestors. While you will have a lot of archived family history materials at your disposal, you need not simply rest on the accuracy of these items, and always make it a point to look at the primary documents yourself, if possible.

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