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Seven Great Principles For Family Tree Research
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Seven Great Principles for Family Tree Research

Every Quest Starts With The First Step

I began my sojourn of researching my family tree with one page of college ruled notebook paper, containing a few scribbled notes plus a very small list of names written on it. Now after more than fifteen years of research, I have a file cabinet drawer full of documents consisting of vital records, letters, photographs, pedigree charts, family worksheets, maps, and a lot more handwritten notes.

I am happy with my efforts of chronicling the births, lives, and deaths of relatives I never met in person, just as I cherish my fond memories of the people I did get to meet.

During the fifteen years of hunting down 200+ years’ worth of relatives, I have picked up dozens of ways for making family tree research easier.

Success With Seven Basic Principles

I found that all it took for me to be a successful family tree history researcher was using just seven basic principles.

Working with these seven principles as outlined in this document can possibly help you in researching your family tree history easier.

1. Make a Plan

Establishing a plan will keep you focused on the task. Be flexible enough in your plan to experiment with theories and conjectures, but remain focused on your initial objective.

2. Get Organized

Use a filing system that works for you and make the system easy enough where other people can understand how the filing system works.

3. Start with Yourself and Work Backwards

Begin researching your family tree history starting with yourself then working back trace your lineage through your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and then great-great-grandparents. Starting with Great-Great-Grandparents and working down towards your generation will increase the chances of making mistakes and cause unneeded confusion.

4. Take On One Branch at a Time

Tracing one surname at a time will get you the best results out of your family tree research. To make things easier, concentrate on no more than two members of the same family group at any given time.

5. Go Slow

Researching family tree history is not about tracing, finding, and linking as many family members as fast as you can within an 'X' amount of time. Correctness takes preference over speed every time. If you are too fast in recording facts and events, the likelihood of making a mistake, or missing an important piece of information increases significantly.

6. Document Your Sources

Putting down in print where you found the information will save a lot of headaches and disputes. Keeping track of the evidence is a surefire way to win any argument. Unless a source verifies something, all you have is a story. Documenting your sources will also help you and others find the location of the information used during research.

7. Review Your Work

Reviewing your finished works will give you the opportunity to find mistakes any of the names, dates, locations, and events are wrong, you can make the necessary correction.

They're Called "Choices" for a Reason

These seven principles were only suggestions and not rules to go by.

What works best for me in my research may not work for you or the next person.

In any case, researching family tree history is a rewarding pastime almost anyone can pursue.

With the exception of time, the cost of the research is minimal or non-existent.

Who knows?

You might even find out some things about your appearance or demeanor you always suspected, never quite certain about, and were too scared to ask.


Street Talk

Documenting our sources is a good idea in general as well as a great principle for family tree research! Thanks.

Reply
  about 5 years ago

I recently began investigating my family history so these are very helpful tips for me. Amzingly, I am finding living relatives I didn't know I had. Your landing page is well put together and very interesting. It is great you can go back as far as 200 years. I'm hoping to do the same.

Reply
  about 6 years ago
  

Hi Lewis and Thanks for commenting. Good Go! I found out the same thing after awhile. I have found and have even made contact with cousins as far away as Colorado. It took me some time to go back 200 years though and there are still a lot of spaces needing filled. Just take it one person at a time. Thanks again for commenting.

Reply
  about 6 years ago

Very well done! I see the use of these principles fitting into many categories currently being taught and used here at WA. Incidentally your last sentence was tantalizing!

Reply
  about 6 years ago
  

Thank You Lillian, Yes a lot of the principles for sharing this information the way I did was picked up during my instruction at WA. I suppose it was time to expand on the learning principles. As far as that last sentence goes...I believe it most sincerely LOL. Thanks again for visiting and the compliment. Bill

Reply
  about 6 years ago
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