Friday, 18 December 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 1: My golden rules

There is a whole process of this happening on a regular basis on blogs around the world.  It seems to be coordinated by Thomas MacEntee at  I don't think I can follow on a weekly basis because life gets in the way!  However, I'd like to see what I can do.

One of the first items is to consider some "golden rules" that will underpin how I want to carry out my genealogical research.  So I've come up with this list ( with nods to Thomas MacEntee and others) which I prepared in my fabulous OneNote program:

  1. Write down the citation of every source I find; and link the citation to the source to the person/people it relates to.  In order to PROVE the story I am building about my ancestor, I must be able to validate the information in the story.  And this means, I must be able to show where the information came from, the truthfulness of that source, and that I have correctly interpreted the information.
  2. And be discriminating about both the information and its source.  Think like a detective.  Look for the corroborating and/or disproving facts in relation to the information I've found.  Ask myself questions about the motivations and accuracy of  "witnesses" to events in my ancestor's lives.  Think laterally and creatively.  And remember that 1 primary source of information is more credible than 100 pieces of "hearsay"!
  3. NO judging allowed!  The lives of my ancestors took place in a totally different time and place - geographically and culturally - and the decisions they made, the actions they took, and the journeys they travelled are their own.  It is not in my scope to judge them. 
  4. Genealogy is not just names and dates.  Learn some social history along the way. Uncovering how my ancestors lived is the true joy of this hobby.  And will help to maybe make sense of some of the decisions and actions they took.
  5. Work and think like my ancestors. My ancestors clearly were resourceful and developed tools and skills to get what they wanted. They were not necessarily “educated”, but they certainly learned lots of new things throughout their lives. Also make sure I have a plan; my ancestors didn’t just wake up one day and on a whim decide to come to Australia and make a better life. They had a plan, they had a network of people to help them, and they made it happen. 
  6. Keep copies of all my work in 3 different places - on my laptop, on an external hard-drive, and on the cloud.  Back-up day is the 1st of the month - do it!!!  There will be great heart-ache and much gnashing of teeth if anything goes wrong in an "all-eggs-in-one-basket" storage system.
  7. And finally, remember to still live today!  Genealogy is fascinating, fun, and addictive, and exploring the lives of my ancestors can be all-encompassing.  I must remember that I also have a life to live and journeys to take.

So those are my "Golden Rules of Genealogy".  I expect they will make my enjoyment of this hobby even richer.  Happy gene-adventures to all!

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