Monday, December 22, 2014

Common mistakes in your family history

Hit a brick wall in your family history?  One of the first strategies to thinking about how to strike through that brick wall is to review the information that you already have.  But also have a think about common mistakes that sometimes happen and whether these may have impacted your own research journey:
Not talking to other family members and gathering oral history.
Not confirming family stories by purchasing historical birth, marriage and death certificates. (Sometimes family stories are not or only partially true).
Accepting other people's research without reviewing.
Using the same spelling when searching indexes and websites.  Remember use spelling variations and where possible wildcard searching, particularly for family names, but also first names.
Having a narrow research view, especially by geographic area, in a similar vein, another common mistake is presuming that our ancestors did not travel widely or move about.
Not being organised.  If you have a software program, be sure to keep it updated.
Becoming unfamiliar with your research.  If it has been a while since you researched a particular line, re-visit your information to date.  Have you transcribed all relevant documents?
Presuming if it is not online, the information does not exist.
If it is in the newspaper, it must be true.
Family Search adds some advice on Rookie Mistakes and If I'd only known! Beginner Genealogy Mistakes. Regular posts from The blog Genealogy Tip of the day also are good reminders and insights into our search strategies.
What is a common mistake you have found in your family history research journey?


Lenore Frost said...

Not checking out to the nth degree the identities of witnesses to marriage and burials on certificates. I could have saved myself a lot of time if I had checked out those people on the early certificates I purchased. But there it is, we aren't born with 20 years' genealogical experience at our fingertips. We have to do the 20 year stretch! So go back and review those witnesses!

Judy Webster said...

This is an excellent list, to which I would add (1) 'Failing to repeat searches that had negative results', and (2) the additional mistakes, especially numbers 2, 9 and 10 on 10 common research mistakes. And thinking specifically about mistakes with indexes - (1) It is easy to miss an entry the first time you search an index, especially if you are tired after a long day of research; (2) look for multiple versions of an index and search all of them; (3) more tips are on Traps involved in using indexes.