Avoiding Mistakes

mistakes-records--aBe careful now to produce mistakes in your family history research or in turn to place mistakes (unknowingly) into your family database.

A major problem is when you locate a whole family tree lineage online and accept / copy every person with every date because some it matches what you know about your family line. Too many times, just about all of it can be correct and for some reason, that one individual placed who truly does not belong – wrong person – might be similar but the correct one. So always check several times each person and location and date – – never accept someone else’s family tree as yours without checking numerous times with other resources. Just because it is posted online does not make it 100% accurate.


Always look at a person’s birth year to see if it was possible they served in any major American war. If a relative was born in 1770, it is not possible they served during the American Revolutionary War. Check online the dates of historical events and do the math.

If you find a record, such as a census record where not all the young children of the family live in the household with their parents, scan the neighbors – cover several pages. If might be that some children could have lived with a nearby relative – an aunt, etc providing assistance to them.


Also on a census record, if a person lists themselves as a widow or widower, that may not be the truth. It was embarrassing for people up to more recent years to state for the record they were divorced, separated or even a bigamist. So it was more accepted to state they were a widow or widower. Find a death notice on that other spouse just to make sure.

Do a good deal of checking if a child is listed for a female relative as their son or daughter that the age is correct. If the child was 5 years old and the mother listed was age 57, it is highly unlikely she is the true birth mother. She could be the aunt, or a grandmother or a stepmother or the child was adopted.

Variations in name spellings can be a problem. If you do find various spellings for a given or family name, make note of all of them. People many times changed a family name spelling over the decades. Same for a given name, the person could even be using their middle name as their first name.

Related FamilyTree.com genealogy blogs:

Avoid the Following

Major Errors

Spelling Variations

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