Genealogy Research and An Accurate Family Tree

Genealogy is a pursuit that criss-crosses into many disciplines–so in the process of tracing your family tree successfully, you acquire a smattering of skills and experiences that are developed by others.  You can’t avoid it.  Try as you will to be disorganized, the very process of collecting data and fitting it together to form a family or a tree forces you to organize that data.

Just beware of quick and fast and shortened and combined, with all the synonyms associated with these easy English words!  Quicker is rarely better.  And usually combined is but a short cut to error.  Online family trees take the brunt of the criticism–they are  as accurate as the old family trees you find in printed books and in short articles in genealogy publications.  Why?

Remember that the data is only as good as its source.  The reality of your ancestor’s life and the people he was related to, when based on facts, may be true.  The memory that you have of information shared down through the years from other relatives is no more questionable than that recorded for your benefit by family genealogists in the past.

When you hurry through sources.  When you copy or cut and paste on the computer screen.  When you transfer a family tree from a flash drive to your own equipment.  When you photocopy what others have compiled.  Quick and fast, you can build inaccuracy that lasts forever.

At some point, you are forced to examine what does not fit and what is not documented and wring the facts out of the combined records.  Or you perpetuate the errors on to the next generation of  researchers.

A Personal Plea!  From Me…

This is personal plea from me, moi, I, Arlene Eakle.   That you describe where you got what.  As you collect it.  While you can still recall the source.   And if you download a facsimile image from a website, please identify the website and what it says about that document.  George Thompson can be found in every war and in almost every militia!  What was?  What militia?  Please identify the exact document.  The exact volume and page.  The exact roll of film.  The exact website.  If not for yourself, for me.So I don’t have to repeat your research to determine if you identified the right George. 

I get compiled family charts and pedigrees with data from a whole variety of sources to review as I begin a new research case.  And I carefully review these charts–trying to guess what source actually supplied the information.  If I perpetuate the errors of the past   while being paid by you to create an accurate family tree.  Or if I depend upon errors to spend your research $$$ collecting add-on data to extend your family back in time, you will be irate.  At least most clients respond with anger.

So over the years I have learned to re-check the data you supply–does it match the census?  does it match the migration patterns?  Does it match the local histories and the tax lists?  And I spend a portion of your research money to ensure that the family tree I build is as accurate as the records will allow me to make it.

And if there are two or more George Thompsons–I want to know it.  Upfront.  As I begin my research on your stuff.  Then I can separate the Georges out where Ican see them and monitor what the records say about each one.  And as I do this I have a fighting chance to identify your George, distinct from all the others.  Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  And this is one of the reasons that my reports take extra time–they are not quick and fast.  If they are to be accurate, they cannot be quick and fast.

PPS  My email is fixed at last–I can both receive and send.   My telephone access is still problematical–the answering machine message to you is “You can’t leave a message at this time.”  Or “The message box is full.  You will have to call back.”     The answering machine message to me is “At the tone, please leave a message.”  And neither are in my voice (for those of you who know my voice).  I believe we have finally figured out the problem–my land line service, which I just switched to overrides the answering machine with the messaging service provided by my provider.  It will be a fairly quick and easy (beware of those words–took over three weeks to recapture my ability to send email!) to get the override removed. 

PPSS  Living at the end of the world as I do, technology in my hands is a disaster.  So now I have a land line.  And a local office with trouble-shooters at the ready.  I am at last hopeful.  And my apologies to all of you who have tried diligently to call or email me.  Postal mail is still the most reliable in outback Utah!  Be well.

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