The Importance of Genealogy Focus…

All of my genealogy time and effort is focused on how to trace hard-to-find ancestors–yours and mine.  Some years ago I adopted a research system that guarantees a high rate of success.  Results require precision:

  1. Working step-by-step through the basic sources in a pre-planned order…
  2. Charting the evidence collected as the searches are made–AS YOU GO…
  3. Comparing and connecting new evidence to what is already known about the ancestor…
  4. Determining where the information gaps are…
  5. Collecting specific facts to plug those gaps, so that the documentation is complete…

When I become distracted by new sources that have just been published and appear on the new book shelf, the thought goes through my mind–do these sources apply to the locations I am currently researching?  Do they fit my most difficult to research family?  Where can I find these sources to use?

My first thoughts are about my blogs and you gentle readers who write me for suggestions on tracing your most difficult research families.  Then my mind turns to the presentations I am scheduled to make before audiences–which of these new resources can I share with you?  What illustrations can I select that will mean something to you?

Finally, there are the times that I work for several hours researching a very difficult family line–unable to fit the persons together into family units.  And I decide that perhaps I missed something significant in the records already looked at.  So I re-trace my steps…   re-read the documents…   re-read the documents aloud…   Let me share an example:

Richard Hodierne, silk weaver of Coventry England, had several apprentices:

  • His son Thomas, identified in the apprentice register as the “son of Richard.”
  • Richard Hodierne put to apprenticeship with Richard Hodierne silk weaver, by the Overseers of the Poor of the parish of St. Michael’s.
  • Richard Hodierne, “son of Richard,” ribbon weaver.
  • …and others.

Note the differences–first, there are a potential of 6 Richards.  More likely 3 or 4 separate Richard Hodiernes depending on if the ribbon weaver is the same Richard as the silk weaver.  The ribbons made in Coventry were made of silk.  And Richard Hodierne, the silk weaver was trained as a ribbon weaver.

Don’t be distracted–the focus should be on the Richard who was put to apprenticeship by the Overseers of the Poor.  This Richard had no choice–he came under the authority of the Poor Law.  He is a different Richard than the Richard who is the son of Richard.  So for sure there are three Richards.  Two men in Coventry had sons named Richard. Only one is christened in St. Michael’s parish.

If the records were always complete–both Richards would be christened.  And named in the parish register.  And you know the records–any record category–is rarely complete.  You find extra persons named in other record categories that you must account for.  Beware of pedigrees built from one source alone!!

Re-reading the documents, and re-reading the documents aloud highlighted the differences in the entries–differences that must be addressed.  Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  All of my examples come from the genealogy research I do for my clients.  And those clients come from a broad enough background that I can select those most likely to be relevant to you gentle readers.  I thank you for your attention to my blogs and your attendance to my presentations at genealogy conferences across the country.  Watch for my updated schedule.


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