What is the first mistake every genealogist makes? That's easy - no matter when we started our research, it was too late. And that's just our first error; many more follow. A genealogist who doesn't stumble from time to time simply isn't trying hard enough.|
Some goofs can be costly; one slip can have us spending years tracing the wrong family. Other mistakes will put us at a dead end, in our research or on the ground, as we travel from wrong village to wrong village in Europe or elsewhere. Usually, these slips were quite predictable, and could have been avoided if we had given it a bit more thought before leaping in.
Do you recognize any of these?
You started too late. Don't deny it; you know it's true.
You have been rushing back as fast as you can, ignoring all sorts of clues and warning signs along the way. Or you've tried to leap across the water without first pinning down all the relevant details in North America.
You have trusted other people, especially when they say that they have been working on that part of the family tree, so you don't have to. Or you couldn't bring yourself to make a connection between two people, because the evidence seemed thin - but when someone sent you an email making the connection, you accepted it without question.
You have made assumptions rather than calculated guesses.
In the middle of nowhere, on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to an ancestral village, you pull out the camera and discover the batteries are dead.
You suddenly realize, after spending several hours making notes from a microfilm, that you've done this one already. No wonder it seemed so familiar.
You worked on a parish register or a census return without having a map at hand.
You discovered and made contact with a distant cousin just a few blocks away, and as a result, had to move to a new city.
You haven't explored all the possible sources for information, limiting your work to the Internet or the Family History Center.
And lately we have many new examples, thanks to television. They include: Using the IGI as a final source, not a starting point; playing word games such as "kin of a kin" and "genealogically related'; and making mistakes with the names of sources.
Five criteria for evaluating Web pages -- Cornell University Library
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Updates? Corrections? Better examples? Send an e-mail to Dave
Updated September 20, 2008