Friday, July 20, 2012

Mistakes - 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 28

Week 28: Mistakes. Genealogy research mistakes are wonderful learning experiences. They can be blessings when they show you how to improve your genealogy research. Which genealogy research mistake in your past has provided the most benefit to your present? How did you discover the mistake and what steps did you take to correct it? Sharing about these experiences will help others who are figuring out their own ancestral paths.

One mistake I made was to accept published information without verifying it myself. I'm sure this is one of the most common mistakes that beginners make. For some of my lines, I was thrilled to see trees going back into the 1600s or even earlier. I was in gathering mode and eagerly added the new names to my tree. I've since been going back and retracing some of those steps to see what is valid and what is speculation.

Another mistake was not paying enough attention to small details that could be important clues. I posted earlier about the mystery of my ancestor Timothy Creeden and his wife Mary Matson being designated as first cousins on their marriage license. I had obtained the marriage license a few years ago, but didn't look into the "first cousin" angle any further since it didn't match up with the other data I had. It seemed impossible for a more recent immigrant like Timothy to be related as a first cousin to a family that went back many generations in the US. When I started taking a closer look at the Matson information, I realized that the dates for Mary's grandparents didn't add up, so there may be an opening there for one of Timothy's grandparents to have married into the family.

One more mistake was sharing too much information with people that published the information online. Even though I had emphasized that a lot of it was speculation, some of those trees are still floating around. I still don't hesitate to share information, but I am more careful about what I share.

So, what have I learned? Don't jump to conclusions, don't overlook details, verify every bit of information, and be cautious when sharing information!

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2012) that invite genealogists and others to discuss resources in the genealogy community including websites, applications, libraries, archives, genealogical societies and more.

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