Saturday, February 27, 2016

Boot Camp - LESSON 9 - Documentation

Documentation - How important is it?

So you have been doing genealogy research since you were 11 and have thousands of names in your data base. Your distant cousin (that you haven't met but found on Facebook and now wants to trade information with you) wants you to tell him where you got your information. You ask why. He said he's trying to prove that a particular line is actually his line. You look at your records and see that you have no documentation. All of those years of research and no proof that any of it is real. You can't tell him anything. OOPS!

How important is documentation?  VERY! I have a family (on Family Trees) where I have hit a brick wall with this line. I have exhausted all known resources so far. I was on FamilySearch the other day and saw that someone had linked my ancestor up with a wife (I had the first name but no last name). She now has a last name, she has parents, and now there are several kids added to this family. I was so surprised, excited, then suspicious.

I saw no documentation for this wife with a new last name. I did some research and did find this lady with the new kids that were added to my family BUT no matter where I looked, there was no mention of MY ancestor. The child I had with a father and a mother with no last name now was with a family that didn't make sense. I wrote to the lady who added this name to Family Tree but have not yet heard back from her. I found on Ancestry this family (the mother with the new last name) - again, my ancestor was not listed but this wife with a husband (the same as my ancestor's name) and three children. were listed.  Where is the proof that this wife was actually the mother of my ancestor? Now I have a situation. They have linked everyone up, done temple work for all new additions and sealed everyone. I will be very excited if this truly is my family but there is no proof. I have seen way too often where someone sees a family in a location that is about the right time frame so they think this is their family. That might not be the case.

Documentation is so important. If you find a family that you think might be your family, DO YOUR RESEARCH! Make sure you make notes of where you got your information (be as complete as possible about your source) and record exactly what is shown on the document (or save the actual document - you can link these up on Family Tree). If you have a feeling but no real documentation, say that. Identify yourself and say that you believe that this family is connected but have no real proof. A statement like this will remind you (as well as tell others) that you need to do more research. (I put these names in my personal files - like my Roots Magic program. I mark them with an * to let me know that I still need to find proof of this person or relationship.)

For more information on sources (documentation) in Family Tree click HERE,
Why sources are valuable - click
Document as you go (Family Search) - click

So what do you do if you have done all of this research and have not documented any of it? Get Started! Go back to the first person and start documenting. You will find some fun things will happen while you do this. You will get to know your ancestors better, you will find mistakes you (or someone) may have made along the way, and you might just break through some of those brick walls as you find your ancestors. You may even come across some really interesting stories along the way.  What a fun family project! My goal is to have good documentation on every single name in my tree.

FYI - Unfortunately, I did not have my documentation linked to this family. I have it in my personal files but neglected to do the follow through and connect it in Family Trees. I am as much to blame as the person that added these other family members to my ancestors. We all have areas that need improving :) 

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