Sunday, July 22, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy, Week 28, Mistakes

The prompt to write about genealogical mistakes beckoned to me. I've already written about some things I've done wrong. I have tried very hard to not climb the wrong tree, but the little mistakes are important, too. My top mistakes include:

  • Not interviewing living relatives
  • Not documenting sources
  • Not visiting courthouses
  • Believing family legends
  • Accepting other researchers' conclusions

When I first started playing with genealogy, I didn't realize how important the documentation of sources is to the process and the professionalism of genealogy. The lack of sources for my earliest work continues to haunt me 20 years later. Every once in a while I have to stop and look for why something appears in my tree. And sometimes I will remove a so-called fact because I don't have any foundation for it.

Today I'm careful to have a reasonable source for each fact. Sometimes that source is flimsy, but at least I document it. Another researcher's conclusion is one type of flimsy source that I now am very careful to document. If I can't verify it, I am more inclined to note it and place it in a file, and only rarely add it into my tree.

Another regret is not interviewing my grandfather, Fayette Franklin Allee, while he was alive and mentally alert. It was his death in 1997 that propelled me from lazy collector of facts to active seeker of facts. He had a long and storied life. Since I recently scrapped two newspaper articles about him, I share them here to honor his years of teaching deaf and blind children and adults in Tucson, Arizona.

Per my earlier tip, the newspaper articles were copied from the original yellowed and crumbling copies onto matte photo paper. The copies appear here and the originals were discarded.

ClubScrap Body and Soul paper kit

ClubScrap Friendship paper kit