Common Genealogy Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

How To Avoid Common Genealogy Mistakes18

Genealogy and family history is very interesting and can actually be kind of addicting. It’s always so exciting when you stumble upon a new ancestor and their stories that help fill in the gaps.

One thing to remember as you embark on your genealogy journey is that researching your family’s history is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  So take your time!

There is a definite learning curve. Just like your family before you and the lessons you’ve learned from them, learn from the researchers before you and learn from their mistakes.  

Here are a some of the common mistakes beginner researchers make that you’ll want to avoid.

Limit Your Search to One Spelling

You may be missing out on new findings if you only search one way to spell an ancestor’s name.  Your Great Aunt Catherine could have gone by Cat, Cate, or Cathy which can all be spelled in many different ways!  

Unfortunately, record and census keepers did not always have spell check and would sometimes assume spelling, even though it’s printed for official records. It’s worth it to take the time and search for your ancestors with alternate name variations.  Be sure to search any nicknames, middle names, maiden names, and married names.

Legend = Fact

Just about every family has stories that have been past down generation by generation.  These stories or “legends” can provide clues that can help you in your research, but be sure to approach them with a grain of salt.  Keep an open mind when sifting through these stories; sort fact from fiction and eliminate embellishments.  

Sometimes you’ll be unable to prove or disprove a story.  If that’s the case, still include it in your written history, just explain what you know to be true versus false, which parts are proven or unproven, and write down how and why you came to that conclusion.

Focus Too Much on Famous Ancestors

It’s completely normal to want to descend from someone well known and famous.  Loads of people get into genealogy because they share a last name with someone famous and assume that means they are related somewhere down the line.  This could be true, but don’t jump ahead.  It’s important to start your genealogical research at the beginning; start with yourself and work your way back.

Forget Living Family

With the online resources that are available today, genealogy is easier and more attainable than ever!  Don’t get too carried away researching and exploring the many, many records to where you forget that you have one of the best family history resources available: your family!  Call them up or go for a visit. Ask as many questions as you’re able.  This research is priceless and won’t always be available.  

Call it Quits

Genealogy can be extremely difficult and disheartening at times.  Surely, once, twice, three times or more, you will hit a brick wall.  But, don’t give up!  Instead, take the challenge head on, learn different strategies, and reach out for help when needed.  The professional genealogists at Price Genealogy are here to help you through it all. Give Price Genealogy a call today to learn more about the packages and services available.