5 Guaranteed Ways to Mess Up Your Genealogy

by Amy Johnson Crow

Posted on April 12, 2013


We at Archives.com love to share tips to help you find your ancestors. Today, we're pointing out some sure-fire ways that you can mess up all your work. Why would we do such a thing? Think of the following as good examples of what not to do.

1. Don't Write Down Where You Found Something

You finally found that piece of information that you've been looking for. You're so excited, you're sure that you'll always remember exactly where you found it. The harsh reality is that you will likely forget at some point. Why does this matter? Because there could come a point where you're trying to sort out new information that contradicts what you have. If you can't find the first source again, you won't be able to sort it out.

2. Don't Share Any of Your Research

You might not think that your information is in "good enough" shape to share with anyone, so you've refrained from posting your tree online or sharing some of your research via a blog or on Facebook. Not sharing what you've found, even when it's in it's early stages, could prevent others from sharing what they've found with you. After all, if they don't know that you're researching a specific family, how will they share that family Bible that holds the information about your ancestor?

3. Don't Look Closely at New Information

It's happened to all of us at some point. We find a record that seems to unlock that tough genealogy problem and in our excitement, we miss a detail that tells us it's not the key we thought it was. Skipping across records and trees instead of carefully reading them is a certain way to mess up your genealogy.

4. Never Review Your Notes

Finding new records is exciting! Going back and reviewing notes, especially those that you haven't looked at in awhile, not as much. However, if you don't look at what you've done before, you won't know exactly how that new record fits in. Harold Henderson gives good examples in his Expert Series article "Solving the Paradox of Research Planning."

5. Give Up

Like the old saying "You can't win if you don't play," you greatly reduce the chances of discovering your ancestors if you give up looking for them.

Keeping watching this blog, as well as our weekly livestream videos, for more tips, tricks, and suggestions for discovering your family history.

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