Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tuesday's Tip~Gettin' By With Help from Our Friends~Eileen Souza

Today's tips come from Eileen A. Souza owner of  Old Bones Genealogy.

10 Tips for More Accurate Research

Genealogy is not something that can be done from start to finish in a weekend or even a year of weekends. It is, however, an enjoyable activity that is done by millions of people. While you enjoy doing your family research, I am sure you would like your family tree to be as accurate as possible. Here are 10 tips to avoid genealogy’s most common mistakes:
1. Talk to your family. You relatives know more about your family than the Internet. Write down what they know. More information acquired before hitting the Internet increases your chances of making good selections about what you add to your tree. And while you are doing that, you are helping to preserve their knowledge.

2. Use caution in your research. Genealogy records found online or elsewhere that are not original documents may have errors. Abstracting or transcribing old documents can introduce typos and other transcription errors. In the case of abstracting, there may be other important information on the original. Knowing whether family history books are accurate without proper citations (as footnotes or endnotes), can be difficult. It is important to try to use the original documents, if available.
3. Unless you have a very rare surname with a unique spelling, you will need to do more research to determine if you are actually related to another person with the same name.

4. While not impossible, it is unlikely that you are related to a Royal family since they tended to be inbred.

5. Another popular myth has immigrants’ names being changed at Ellis Island (or earlier officials). Your ancestor may have had their name slaughtered at the port of departure where the passenger list was created or they may have decided to become Americans by changing their name themselves, but it was not changed by officials at the port of entry.

6. Spelling was standardized in the US and UK during the 19th and 20th centuries. Yet today British English and American English still have dissimilar spelling standardization. Do not assume because it is not spelled the way you know it that it is not your line. Confirm a fact/relationship using more than just a name.

7. While sometimes you must guess, either keep your guesses in a separate tree and only move the fact into your real tree when it is no longer a guess or note that the fact is a guess. Otherwise, no one will have confidence in your research.

8. Everyone can make mistakes. Periodically check your data for these common errors: parents born before their children, people living more than 125 years and a child linked to more than one set of parents. Fix all the mistakes that you find as soon as you discover them. You want to avoid inadvertently tracing entire lines of people that have no relationship to you.

9. When using other people’s family tree data, it is safest to treat it as a clue and do further research. Even the best research may change if new data surfaces since the original data was uncovered.

10. Lastly, there is a principle in genealogy research known as a “reasonably exhaustive search”. This means that you must keep searching for all documents that may apply to the facts you are researching. All documents are not online. While new records are added frequently, if not daily, online records are still the tip of the iceberg. You need to extend your research to libraries, societies, archives and other repositories to ensure valid results.

Thanks for sharing your tips, Eileen! 


Eileen Souza, PLCGS, owner of Old Bones Genealogy, is a professional genealogist who specializes in Maryland research. She is president of the Carroll County Genealogical Society, a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the National Genealogical Society, the Maryland Genealogical Society and other local business and genealogical societies.
Eileen is a graduate of the National Institute of Genealogical Studies, earning a Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies; a graduate of the National Institute of Genealogical Research; and a graduate of the 18-month ProGen Study Group (for the book Professional Genealogy edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills).  
She is the author of Research in Carroll County, published in the August 2012 issue of the Maryland Genealogical Society Journal. Her presentations include “Getting Started with your Genealogy,” “Dig Up Your Ancestors Online,” “Finding Beaver Dam Levell” and “The ABCs of DNA for Genealogy.” 

What suggestions do you have to be more accurate with your genealogy research?
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Helping you climb your family tree,