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How Accurate Will a Self-Performed Genealogy Search Be?

Article by lindaFTC

There are many reasons why an individual begins a family history search. The basic purpose behind any search is for an account of the descent of a person and their family to gain an understanding of where you came from, what achievements, hardships, adversities and struggles the family members before you had to deal with.

For most people it is a full-time or part-time hobby to be enjoyed. The thrill of the search can be so intriguing. It becomes a mystery that needs solving, like putting all the pieces of a puzzle together.

You may feel your family has such a compelling story it needs to be written out and published, not just for family members but for others to enjoy. Perhaps old family legends exist you have heard for years and you would like to learn the truth. A reminder, just because ?grandma? told the story a certain way, doesn?t mean it is what actually happened. So learning the truth or setting the record straight for future generations can be a goal.

Doing the research yourself is very fulfilling. There will be days when you locate nothing and others when suddenly everything falls into place. Most important is to be careful in your investigation and collecting of information. The potential for data errors exists. Especially major mistakes in recording months, days or years for events. A woman born in 1802 and who lived to 1889 and yet you have recorded her giving birth to a child in 1879 ? very unlikely. A clear error and one if not caught may be passed on to others who overlook it.

When reviewing information you have assembled, if something appears confusing or misleading that data has to be verified. If something was gathered from an online submitted tree, it is only as reliable as the person who submitted it. Be like the professional and check and recheck your findings.

The best way to start and then continue on your research is by working from the present time and going back in time. It helps keep you on track and not off onto the wrong branch.

There will be many brick walls along the way ? that barrier of a name, a date or a location you just can?t seem to find. Every seasoned family history researcher has numerous brick walls but then most people do break through various brick walls. It offers that moment of shear joy when an elusive ancestor is finally discovered.

A question arises if a paid professional genealogist can in reality be more accurate than one doing the research as a hobby. First, records (birth, marriage, divorce, death, census, military, property, church, newspaper articles, city directories, social security application, etc.) are primary and secondary records no matter who locates them. Over the decades thousands of records have been preserved that speak volumes of an ancestor?s life.

There are a plentiful and growing supply of free sources either from libraries, genealogical societies, online databases or local, state and federal governmental agencies. These free sources are open to anyone. However, errors can still exist when such document transcriptions are done by professionals or volunteers. The professional researcher might more readily spot such errors.

If an individual has the time and patience to do the research themselves and be absolutely methodical, their results can be as accurate as any professional researcher or personal historian. Where a professional has an advantage is in their traveling to counties, cemeteries, courthouses, etc. to read first-hand the records, books and documents not found on Internet databases or easily copied by a clerk to be mailed to you.

A professional will also have the experience to know where to look and what to look for in far less time than an amateur. Having a ready fee-based collection of databases from which to investigate is an essential component for a professional, something that an individual on their own might not be interested pursuing.

So an accurate family history can most assuredly be achieved by any individual. The person has to know how much time and effort they are willing to put into the pursuit. If time is limited and they would like the data for an upcoming family event, the professional would be the best approach. The most important key element in a do-it-yourself family history project is to be careful and through, be willing to check and recheck your information to achieve a veracious family account.

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by lindaFTC Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2010-05-23 08:11:55

lindaFTC has been a Family Tree Circles member since Jan 2010.

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