A novice or experienced family history researcher can make some mistakes when putting together the family tree. So you don’t have to redo your work or cause any continual errors to be carried on, here are some ideas to avoid any research mistakes.
First, never start and solely depend on anyone else’s information / family tree data. Countless times I have seen where someone put in a person that was not related in any form to the main family. They just happened to have a name similar to someone else in the family or they were added because someone did not check completely the information. Nothing wrong at reviewing and looking at others’ research and it may even give you some ideas of where family members lived, but don’t copy everything and call your work done.
Next, any research you do, use as many varied resources you can find. Not just vital records but do check with living family members also for what they know. You need to check with at least 3 to 4 different sources — again not someone else’s work.
When versifying, also make sure you have dates exact, names spelled right, locations written with the right town, county and state. Remember many names for towns are used in different states. Sometimes there could be just a simple typing error.
One major mistake is starting your research with a great grandparent or a 2nd cousin. Instead always start with yourself. You know yourself best, get that info down. Then move to your parents, including all details you can learn from them and / or your research. Next do your siblings with dates, occupations, spouses, etc. Just covering that immediate family will take some time. True, you might not get all the information, but at least you have your core. Then move to your mother or your father’s parents. It might be easier to do the father’s lineage since the surname would be the same. With those grandparents, that is four individuals and that can take some time to do it right. However, that is how your avoid mistakes.
Find your mother’s maiden name, and her mother’s maiden name, etc. That is a major mistake by researchers, yet once you learn those family names and the stories connected, there can be a wealth of information. One method to help locate such maiden names; look at middle names for different family members. My mother’s name was Nan Musselman Everhart. The Musselman middle name was indeed a maiden name for my mother’s grandmother.
Lastly, keep organized as you go along. If you try to organize everything months down the road, some things might get misplaced. Use a computer, a notebook, filing cabinet, something so everything stays together and dividing by family surnames is a good method.
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