Not recording data or recording it in multiple places
We get sooo excited by finding out another tidbit of our ancestor’s life that we completely forget to record it all. Or best, we write it down on a scrap of paper or a notebook. Yes, a notebook is a fantastic asset to a genealogist. I have tons of them. Is all the information from them safely stored anywhere else? Probably note.
We are also guilty of overkill and recording in too many places. My husband’s family seem to have 4 copies of everything! Plus, I still do it myself as well, it comes from working on the computer – particularly with my household and business accounts – where I save them on my computer drive, my hard drive, my Dropbox and my portable stick!!!! I have paper copies in files plus the actual documents in certificate folders plus my Roots Magic TM database on the computer (backed up in two places – lol). But what you have to be careful of is not to allow your duplication of data to have errors in it, so if you must record in two places make sure it’s an electronic copy or if it’s handwritten, it is 100% accurate.
We also have a quandry when it comes to female members of our tree. I will do a specific video on this but I now set up my files under the family name and then the male line (unless it’s all girls, then it becomes a female file) going back and forth and I have sub-files for his wife/ her husband and children, but what do you do with the information you glean from the them and their family before they married your ancestor? Simples. You set up another family file for that family name too.
Ignore ancestor’s siblings
So many people get hooked up on one name, one ancestor and ignore their brothers and sisters at their peril. This can really help if you get stuck on your ancestor as you can begin to trace their family and perhaps link up to them again in another time period. Plus it gives you a nice broad sense of the family and where they sit in the social tree – dependent on their occupations, etc.
Putting the female’s married name not her maiden name
A lot of times, we find a marriage but cannot find a maiden name for the female our ancestor married. Don’t put in your own family name i.e. the name they took when they married into your family. Leave it blank as this flags it up that it needs to be found. If you use Debretts form of referencing your family then you can do what I do and record it thus:
WEAVER, James R01 = UNKNOWN, Mary (James Weaver R01)
This means that James was the first born son, born during the time period of 1890 to 1919 marrying a Mary (James Weaver R01)
Incidentally, you can still use UNKNOWN even if you don’t use the Debrett’s system. I’ve used this system for years, long before I came across the Debrett’s referencing system.
Assuming you’re related to famous person because of the name
Nothing in genealogy can be assumed. If you want to pass on credible information to the next generation and do the previous ones justice, then you need to be as thorough in your detective work and recording as if you were trying to find the perpetrator of a crime. Yes, put the blue and white tape around your family files and prepare to knuckle down and be diligent. Please don’t assume just because you have an unusual name and a celebrity shares that name that you are therefore automatically related to them, chances are you’re not. Even worse, are those who assume that because they have a common name, they must be related to all the other people with the same surname as them. One brick wall of finding two ancestors with the same family name, same christian names, marrying women with the same christian names at the same time in the same parish, soon cures you of that!
Skipping a generation
Thinking that it’s okay to just skip a generation – oh it’ll be okay, I can fit them in later – sorry, it just doesn’t work out that way nine times out of ten. Leaving a whole generational gap in your research is just asking for trouble, you will never be 100% sure that the next generation you find are tied in with your family. You must proceed logically or not at all.
So, have you made any or all of these mistakes?
Have a great week and happy family finding.
Yvonne (been there done that – got the t-shirt) Richards