Friday, June 18, 2010

Research from a non-professional

It seems that in most families, there is one (if one) that holds and interest and diligence and fascination with family research. Some gather the pictures, some find their inner craftiness and scrapbook tales, some scour the world for that bit of data to piece things together. And every now and again, at a family dinner/wedding/reunion, you get to tell some of the tales you've discovered, and others' might be interested for a bit.
Or at least, that's my family.

I am not a professional. I teach a class on genealogy on the web (which I'd love to expand into a series of classes), that is based on my experiences, and mine alone. What do I know? I'm certainly not the greatest researcher, and my priorities have greatly changed over the years. Most of what I know now is how NOT to research, the mistakes you will make. It is only in the past few years that I feel I've begun to even touch the surface of being a GOOD, qualified researcher.

When you start researching at 17, and tend to be a math person already, it's about the puzzle. The data. Filling in the gaps, going as far back as you can.

And because of that, I have 10 years of research in names and history and data. And NO SOURCES. I have NO idea where half of the data I've discovered came from. It was from the web. As we all know (or, know NOW), that is highly subjective. It might be correct. It quite possibly is not. I have people in an old address list that I didn't even write down which family they're connected to, so writing to them or using them as sources now, after the fact, is impossible.

It's sad.
It's a learning experience.

So, I offer this as an apology to my database. To researchers of my families who stumble across my information and ask me for more, and I just don't have it.

The past 7years have been spent correcting data, rediscovering holes, filling in even more gaps and data with TRUE data, with SOURCES, with actual pieces of paper that I've scanned by going to the clerks of court (and trusting in documents found on Ancestry). There are times it seems it was all a waste - now that I'm having to correct so much, Base so much unfounded. But it makes for a clearer, more bonafide database of my Ancestry.

And now instead of just an empty database of 23000 names, I now have at least a few thousand that I know a bit of their lives, a story to put to their birth dates and death dates, and when a family member asks me a question, I have so much more to say.

Source your stuff, ya'll.
It is a learning process, but that's the first lesson EVERYONE needs to learn.

~happy huntings