Genealogy Research, Genealogy Accuracy

Genealogy is a pursuit that criss-crosses into many disciplines–so in the process of tracing your family tree successfully, you acquire a smattering of skills and experiences that are developed by others.  You can’t avoid it.  Try as you will to be disorganized, the very process of collecting data and entering those data onto genealogy forms, the very process of fitting data together to form a family or a tree forces you to organize that data.

Just beware of quick and fast and shortened/summarized and combined:  Quicker is rarely better.  And combined may be a short cut to error.  Online family trees take the brunt of the criticism–yet, they are as accurate as the old family trees you find in printed books and in short articles in genealogy publications.  Why?

Remember that the data are only as good as the sources.  The reality of your ancestor’s life and the people he was related to, when based on facts, will be true.  The memory that you have of information shared down through the years from other relatives is no more questionable than that recorded for your benefit by family genealogists in the past.

When you hurry through sources…  When you photocopy or cut and paste on the computer screen….  When you transfer a family tree from someone else’s website or flash drive to your own equipment…  When you photocopy what others have compiled…  Quick and fast, you can build inaccuracy that lasts forever.

A Personal Plea!  From Me, Arlene Eakle.   That you describe where you got what.  As you collect it.  While you can still recall the source.   And if you download a facsimile image from a website, please identify the website and what it says about that document.  James Scott can be found in every war and in almost every militia!  What war?  What militia?  Please identify the exact document.  For me.  So I don’t have to repeat your research to determine if you identified the right James.

I get compiled family charts and pedigrees with data from a whole variety of sources to review as I begin a new research case.  So over the years I have learned to re-check the data you supply–does it match the census? Does it match the migration patterns?  Does it match the local histories, and the tax lists?  And I spend a portion of your research money to ensure that the family tree I build is as accurate as the records will allow me to make it.

And if there is more than one James Scott living in the same place and recorded in the same set of records–I want to know it.  Upfront.  As I begin my research on your stuff.  Then I can separate these James out where I can see them clearly and monitor what the records say about each one.  And as I do this I have a fighting chance to identify your James, distinct from all the others.  Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  And if it is important for me to know upfront, think how important it is for you to know upfront where you got the information.

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