Saturday, April 30, 2016


It is the tendency of many to make some mistakes when they are doing research for their family lines. Please read about these mistakes and try to avoid them with your research.

1.  Don't Assume that what you see on your family tree is true - There are so many places online where you will be able to view your family tree. Don't assume that the info is correct. Best thing to do is to look for documentation and check out those sources.  Don't believe everything you see - even if it is in a book or on the Internet.

2.  Don't Jump to conclusions based on insufficient information - So many just assume that so and so is their ancestor because they lived in the right area at the right time. Use that info as a clue but look for more info to back up your conclusions.

3.  Don't Forget to document your sources - As mentioned in previous lessons, be sure to document where you get your information (and tell what you found exactly as stated on the document used - don't change the spelling or dates to what you think is correct).

4.  Don't accept family legends as factual - Use them as a clue but follow up with proper research. Grandpa said his ancestor came over on the Mayflower when in fact, it was just a story passed down. Check out those stories!

5.  Don't start by following a famous person in hopes that you are related - Do your research starting from you and going back. This is the only way you can be sure that you have the right family lines.

6.  Abbreviations are not always what you might think - NA might mean non applicable, naturalized, Native American or even Navy.

7.  Watch the dates! - It would be extremely unlikely that a woman 82 would deliver a child or that a child of 8 would be a parent.  If you see these kinds of things in your family tree, it should send up a red flag - INVESTIGATE!

8.  Don't get hung up with the spelling of a name - There are probably many different ways to spell a name so be sure to be open minded when researching. One of my family names is is spelled Zaring, Zahrung, Sayring, and many more - each sibling spells it differently.

9.  Don't forget to contact living members to get information - Gather that info before they are no longer able to give it to you.

10.  Places may change - People may cross borders - A town may change it's name or start in one county and then be listed in a different county. Be sure to check all the surrounding areas. Some towns disappear completely. My ancestor was born in a town that no longer exists but by submitting a query on a local genealogy board, someone from that area was able to send me info about the town and even a map to where it used to be. Also, there may be reason for your family to cross into a different town, county, or even state to get married, have children, die, or be buried. Check all of the surrounding areas.

11.  Not all of your information will be available to you online - You may have to actually visit an area to gather info first hand. There are still places (even in the US) that do not have their records recorded in any other place than their files. Don't give up - think out of the box. I have called mortuaries, cemeteries, names in a phone book, etc. and found some extremely valuable info that was not available anywhere on line.

12. Don't be too narrow with your research - Often families will settle in as neighbors. When checking out an area, expand your search to see if there are others with the same name that could possibly be related. If those names keep cropping up, there may be a connection (friends too as some friends move together to new locations). I call this "Walking through the neighborhood".

There are other things to be careful about but these are key points to remember.

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