Monday, November 14, 2011

Dancing Green Leaves aka 'Hints'

It’s not that long ago that I decided to begin my journey into genealogy. I signed up for a free 14 day free trial at Ancestry.com. I had intended to find all the information I could within my time limit, but I soon realized it was too late. I was hooked! If someone had told me before, that genealogy was addictive, I would have said, “That’s pure nonsense!” Ah, but I know better now.

Since, I was so new to genealogy and had never done any genealogical research before; I thought this is going to be easy because, I kept seeing all these little green wiggling leaves (hints) on my ancestors. So, I kept clicking on them until I had several hundred ancestors, and one line all the way back to kings and queens from the 12th century! I also thought that because it was in someone else’s tree, that it must be true, after all they know more than I do. I soon discovered that if I made up dates for birth and death, I could get more hints to come up. Then a flash of insight, what if others were making things up as well?

As I learned how to use all the resources at Ancestry.com, I started finding mistakes in many of the public member trees. I soon realized that I needed to just start over with a new tree, so I did. When I do research now, I look for sources and I check the citations. I open the census forms and I read them. Sometimes I find transcription errors and omissions, which I correct by submitting the correct data.

Ancestry.com is a great resource which I would absolutely recommend to anyone wanting to do genealogy research. I have learned that Member Trees can be a valuable resource, just as I have learned that the information may not always be accurate. They certainly should never be used as a source for your research unless they have good citations. Be sure to always check the sources, make sure, before you cite it.

One of the great pleasures in life is friends and family and especially sweet is finding a long lost cousin. I would love to hear from you, so please take a moment to share your thoughts, comments, suggestions, questions, or just say hello.

by Marsha Hanson-Smith (Group 4)