Genealogical Rookie Errors

Findmypast is the number one online resource for anyone looking to discover their British or Irish family history. With millions of records and historical newspaper pages that you won’t find anywhere else, it’s the go-to destination for tracking down North American ancestors and tracing their journeys back across the Atlantic.

Anyone who’s researched their family history has made mistakes. The reliability of record-keeping, the buying into public genealogies, the following a line of the wrong John Smith. Mistakes are part and parcel of the hobby, and only serve to make us better researchers. Here’s a few of the most common mistakes made by new (and, sometimes, seasoned) researchers.

Ignoring The Living

With a number of genealogy websites now available, there’s a temptation to begin your research online. This is a mistake. Speak to your living relatives about what they know about your family history, you might be surprised by how much this can bolster your research and allow you to hit the ground running.

Making Assumptions

Same surname, same area, same family, right? Not quite. Surnames have changed over the years, as have literacy rates and the standards of record-keeping, depending where you’re searching. The only way to ensure you’re looking in the right place is to be meticulous.

Believing Strangers

A relative of yours turns up in someone else’s family tree, but there’s no record attached or cited? You’ll likely have to forget that connection until you can prove it yourself. As the old saying goes, ‘genealogy without proof is mythology’ (credit to genealogist Tamura Jones for that one).

Not Keeping Track

For every person you add to your tree, note the exact record set or source in which you found them so that, two years down the line, you’re in the dark as to where to find them again. Start this on day one and you’ll thank yourself on day 1,000.

Being Beaten by Brick Walls

Just as every family historian makes mistakes, every family historian has hit a brick wall in their research. Sometimes, the records just aren’t there and you have to be creative, using newspapers, business directories, periodicals or even traveling to physical archives. Sometimes, you just need some time researching other lines until the obstacle is overcome some other way. Remember, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Ready to learn from some mistakes? Start your family history journey today with exclusive records, a free family tree builder and more. Visit today.

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