Friday, May 25, 2007

Suggestions for Genealogy Researchers

I was asked recently what suggestions or guidelines that I would recommend to beginning or returning genealogy researchers. I found several such lists on the Internet (see for many of them).

But I decided to do my own - let's call them "Suggestions for Genealogy Researchers:"

1) Thou shalt interview all of your living family members, and collect or borrow their family papers, photographs, books, etc..

2) Thou shalt learn to use the "tools" of the profession - pedigree chart, group sheet, time line, forms, software - and put your data on them.

3) Thou shalt educate yourself about genealogy and family history, and join local, regional or national genealogy societies.

4) Thou shalt work backwards in time in your research - one generation at a time.

5) Thou shalt learn to use the scientific method - collect data, hypothesize, analyze, identify needed data, find new data, then do it again - to evaluate all of your evidence.

6) Thou shalt visit all repositories (libraries, genealogy societies, historical societies, etc.) in your locality, and those where your ancestors lived.

7) Thou shalt use the Internet to find what other researchers have posted - web sites, databases, message boards, mailing lists, etc.

8) Thou shalt understand that the Internet does not have ALL genealogy and family history data - and won't for a very long time.

9) Thou shalt use the data of other researchers - from repositories, books, periodicals, or the Internet - as a "finding aid" only, not as gospel truth.

10) Thou shalt strive to find primary information, original source documents and direct evidence of all names, dates, locations and relationships.

11) Thou shalt apply the Genealogical Proof Standard to all of your work.

12) Thou shalt share the fruits of your labor with other researchers, including sources and evidence evaluation.


Of course, each one of those "suggestions" has been the subject of blog posts, periodical articles or even books in past genealogical times.

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