Genealogy Top 10
Submitted by Dale E. Lee
Some people find Family History a bit daunting when they first get involved in it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are things you can definitely do that will make a difference.
The following is a list of the Top 10 things that will help you in your efforts, in no particular order:
- Be Organized and document your results. The difference between being organized and not being organized is very great. It takes far longer to accomplish tasks without organization, even taking into account the time it takes to get organized.
- Contact those closest to you first, then expand from there. Family members are the ones with the most knowledge about the family. Although not everything they tell may be true, the information they give can be used as hints and clues of where else to look to verify what they’re saying and extend your research.
- Use the least expensive means first, then more expensive means later. If you start with the least expensive means, many times you’ll be able to save a lot of money to accomplish the very same thing. However, if that fails, then look into the more expensive solutions.
- Learn the Jargon. Learning the jargon can greatly shorten your learning curve in any field of endeavor. And it gives you the ability to communicate correctly with those familiar with the field.
- Build a network and a Contact List. Building a network can be a snowball effect. The more people you know, the more chance you’ll be able to get a referral to someone that can answer your questions. Just be sure you document their contact information in a contact list, so you don’t loose it a year or two from now.
- Continuously Improve. Even professionals are continuously learning from the things they encounter and the roadblocks they overcome. When you find a solution to a problem, document it, so you can use the solution the next time you run into it. To error is Human, but making the same mistake is careless.
- Create Family History Projects. There are many, many things that can be done in Family History, from writing your own personal history, to creating a pedigree chart and family group sheets, to finding DNA matches, to indexing data for large on-line repositories. Choose the most important thing to get done and create a project around that objective. Then plan, execute and document your work.
- Verify the Data. It’s nice that your Aunt may have done all that work for you, but it’s even nicer to be able to prove that what she did is actually true. Just because she’s your relative, does not mean that she isn’t human and makes mistakes.
- Learn by Doing, let your needs trigger education, not the education limit what you can do. The classic mistake newbies make in Family History is to attempt to learn everything there is in Family History before doing anything. Sorry, but there’s just too much to know. A better approach is to start with your self, expand to your immediate family, then to your extended family and beyond, searching for training on things you need as you go. Don’t get caught in the Paralysis by Analysis trap. Yes, you’ll make mistakes, but you’ll learn far better than if you just study theory.
- Overcome Roadblocks as quickly as possible. Don’t expect that everything in your Family Tree will be easy to find. Most families are made of humans (smile) and humans tend to be a bit messy. Successful people are those that are able to get around roadblocks as quickly as possible. Some roadblocks are easy and others are hard. Take the attitude that they are inevitable and need to be resolved instead of avoided.
- Help others. When you help others, whether by teaching them, helping with indexing projects, asking them if there’s something you can to do help, etc., you will be helping yourself. It may not be evident immediately, but doing so, will help you solidify your knowledge by sharing what you know and may provide you with a contact that can resolve a difficult roadblock. Many call it Karma.
For additional clues on how to be effective in Family History you can download the Roadmap to Family History Report as a pdf by going to www.seekerz.net and clicking on the picture at the top of the main page, with the caption that starts “Go from zero to proficient…”.
Good luck! Learning about your Family History can be a lifetime pursuit. You’ll continually learn something about your family you didn’t know. If you think you know everything, research back a generation or two from where you are currently.
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