Ruth's Genealogy

“I don't know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.” -Abraham Lincoln

Genealogy research mistakes are wonderful learning experiences. They can be blessings when they show you how to improve your genealogy research. Which Week genealogy research mistake in your past has provided the most benefit to your present? How did you discover the mistake and what steps did you take to correct it? Sharing about these experiences will help others who are figuring out their own ancestral paths.

Booboos, made lots of ’em! Hummm, where to start… 🙂

My most “beneficial” mistake? The same one probably every genealogical researcher has made on Day 1: Name Collecting.

You know, when you make your first stop at (or similar site), put your great-grandfather’s name in the search box, which promptly returns 50 hits for that name, pick the name and data that seems closest to your own “knowledge”, and… DOWNLOAD THAT ENTIRE GEDCOM INTO YOUR OWN DATABASE AND ACCEPT IT ALL AS GOSPEL!

Name Collecting.

I did that very thing  and felt proud of myself for finding so many ancestors on the first day of my research. Wow, was I smart! This genealogy thing is great!

But after a while, my eyes slowly began to open. I started reading genealogy blogs and looking at what other researchers were doing and gradually realized that my database was worthless. No sources. No documentation. No proof.

So one day, I started a new database and began to enter people individually, one-at-a-time, by hand. I started with me, then my parents, then my grandparents. People I had actually known. Events and facts that I knew to be correct. I remember 2 of my great-grandmothers, both having died when I was a teenager. I talked to other relatives, collected photographs and documents and documented my findings.

And now, if I don’t have at least 2 verifiable sources for a person, then she/he doesn’t land in my database. There are a very few folks that I feel really good about who are in the database without decent documentation, but even so, I am still looking for proof.

I frequently read about other researchers who have thousands of people in their databases. Good for them! Is each person documented?


52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2012) that invite genealogists and others to discuss resources in the genealogy community including websites, applications, libraries, archives, genealogical societies and more. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your thoughts on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.

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