We may be going over plowed
ground, but it's a good idea every now and then to review some of the
"mistakes" genealogists make. If you have them fresh in your mind, it's
less likely that you will make these same errors.
* You never use "primary
sources." Primary sources are original documents such as land, probate,
church, county records, etc. You rely on printed histories or information
from the Internet.
* You don't make a master copy of your information to leave at home when
you travel and you don't leave a copy of that information in a safe place
away from your home. Imagine what it would be like to lose all of your
work through a fire or natural disaster...or through loss or theft.
* You don't back up your computer records. Anyone who has worked more than
30 seconds on a computer knows that computers will crash the exact
nanosecond that you have finished 400 hours of work. Back up. Back up.
* You never organize your records. Once you've worked in genealogy for
just a little while, you'll have papers everywhere. There's nothing more
frustrating than looking for a birth certificate that you know is "in that
pile over there."
* You never sit down and analyze the clues our ancestors have left us.
* You assume that your surname has been spelled the same way since the
beginning of time. So many wonderful things are overlooked because, "They
can't be mine. They have an 'e' on the end of their name!" Not so. Names
did change, have changed and will change.
* The very worst mistake genealogists make is giving up. My friend, Ludlow
Porch, has on his studio wall in Cumming, Georgia a little sign that
reads, "Never give up. Never give up. Never give up." He says it came to
him via Winston Churchill...but it's a great motto!
Do you have family
photographs that you need to date? There's a great Internet site for
figuring out when pictures were taken. You go to
http://www.city-gallery.com/guide/index.html and you'll have those
photos in their historic context in no time!
Family reunions are harder
to do than you think they are! If you'd like a really good guide to how to
put on a fantastic gathering of your kinfolks, write for the Reunions
Workbook and Catalog by Edith Wagner.
Edith is the editor of reunions magazine and knows reunions like Bo knows
and Mo knows.
In this book you'll find a reunion timetable, how to choose dates, how to
budget, how to raise funds, how to choose a site, activities,
entertainment ideas and even children's activities. Whether you're a
reunion veteran or a reunion rookie, you'll find this book interesting and
The planner is $10 and is available from reunions magazine, PO Box 11727,
Milwaukee, WI 53211-0727.
Edith is one of our Family Tree columnists and would be delighted to list
your family reunion in both her magazine and in The Family Tree. Just drop
her a note with the pertinent information.
The National Archives and
Records Administration, Southeast Region has genealogical workshops at the
NARA site, 1557 St. Joseph Ave., East Point, GA 30344.
You may write for a schedule at that address or you may contact the
Archival Operations staff at 404-763-7383. You may also email your request
Next time, we'll talk about
using church records for your Irish ancestor research (and there are lots
of us who have Irish roots!).