History can tell us a lot about the Crusades, the series of religious wars fought between 1095 and 1291, in which Christian invaders tried to claim the Near East. But the DNA of nine 13th century Crusaders buried in a pit in Lebanon shows that there’s more to learn about who the Crusaders were and their interactions with the populations they encountered.
I’ve been gathering my family genealogy information for about two decades now. Pell-mell and random, but there must be some semblance of an accurate family history in there somewhere. Another Random Resolution – to organized my piles of paper and electronic genealogy files and to verify that they’re accurate. I’m not going to hunt
very many new leads until I get all of what I have in order.
Big plans for 2016! Wish me luck.
So this far-more-knowledgeable-than-I-am genealogist out of Australia posted 27 Golden Rules of Genealogy. Here is the link: 27 Golden Rules of Genealogy Below, I’ve copied some of the text and added comments from me, a long-time but still beginner very disorganized family historian.
- Don’t expect to find your whole tree online.
- If you do, it almost certainly has piles of inaccuracies. I’m still trying to sort out the two nearly identical families of 11 or 12 kids, four generations back, that are apparently not actually the same families. Wot?
- In fact if you find information online, don’t assume it is accurate.
- See above. This is why I am going to go through all my stacks of paper and files. I got caught up early on when all that great information became available online, and I accepted and downloaded way too many files without checking them. My OCD self (CDO for those of you who get that) hates that my family history is probably riddled with errors and lovely stories that have no actual merit. What? I’m not the great-great-great grandchild of the lost czar? How did that happen?
- Don’t show living people in your online tree unless you have it hidden and Private.
- Do I even have to say anything here? Well, maybe that I can go back and make the people who’ve died visible now.
- Don’t take information or photographs from others and not give anything back.
- Common courtesy, right? Such short supply of that, these days.
- Don’t expect that you can do it ALL for free.
- My Ancestry subscription has been worth every penny.
- Don’t be a name-collector. Look for the stories that MAKE the people.
- Just like world history, names and dates are just plain boring, if there isn’t some real life behind them.
- Don’t believe everything on a Birth, Marriage or Death certificate.
- Not everyone is honest when they fill out forms. I found out not too long ago that the father on a birth certificate had actually adopted the baby, and had been nowhere in the vicinity when conception occurred.
- Don’t give up if you hit a brickwall. Take a look at it from a different direction.
- Yeah. I’m so very guilty of that. Perhaps this year I’ll find the tools I need to smash the biggest ones.
- Don’t write on a chart in pen until you are 100% sure of the details.
- Pen? Are you kidding? Hello, graphite!
- Don’t assume that if you can’t find the data you’re looking for on a website, that it doesn’t exist. Especially if that website infers that it would be there. Not everything is indexed or digitised yet.
- And check back again later. I’ve found searches that turned up empty provide all kinds of stuff just a few months later. Somebody somewhere is ensuring that everything ever printed will someday be digitized. I suppose I should thank them.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of people willing to guide you on your genealogy journey.
- I’ve been a loner all these years. Time to start finding some communities. Plus, best to get the stories from those remaining relatives before they’re gone.
- Don’t forget to write your OWN history. Afterall you know your own life history better than anyone else.
- Always start from yourself and work backwards.
- Okay, I did do that.
- Get organised: both on your computer and your paperwork.
- Did I mention this is my goal for 2016? I’ve found some resources that I sincerely hope will keep e on track.
- Join a genealogy group or society. The more you mingle with other researchers the more you’ll learn.
- Perhaps if I can find the time. I know there is a group that meets here in town once a month.
- Do your homework and learn the social history of the area your ancestors came from.
- Fascinating the things you can find out. I’ve known the names of the (former) villages my Italian relatives came from since I was a little girl. I only learned, accidentally that they’re all on the edge of the Pompeii crater. Seems kind of a fascinating thing to have overlooked.
- Honour family members wishes when they give you (or let you copy) photos, stories and other information. Not everyone is happy for it to be online.
- Ummm… back to that common courtesy thing, right?
- Learn to expect name and date variants. EVERY family has name variants.
- Boy Howdy, this is true!
- When filling in a pedigree chart, the male line is always on the top with his wife’s details in the box below.
- Okay, I could step up to the sexism soapbox, but it has to be one or the other, so why get worked up over it?
- Be consistent in the way you record your data.
- Yup – that is back to the whole Big Organization of 2016. When I started it was paper and pencil and postage stamps. Now all is digital. Lets get this stuff integrated.
- Verify everything with at least two separate sources for each piece of information.
- Did I mention something about a big project this year? This is a key component.
- Back up your files at least once a month and have a copy OFF of your computer, and preferrably a copy at a different location.
- I’ve got backups that are as old as my last entries. And my computer has redundant backups on hard drives and in a cloud or two. But not everything is on paper. Man, better invest in a few ink cartridges.
- Expect surprises. It is truly amazing what you’ll find out about your family.
- The guy who supposedly died, but then (maybe) turned up a few miles away with a different wife and family? I kid you not, these little gems are so much fun to chew on. That one is going to be fun.
- Use ethics when you do find out shocking tales about a family member. Not all stories need to be aired to everyone.
- Very possibly applicable to the item directly before this one. But we’ll have to see… if true, a couple of generations are already dead and maybe I have some really cool cousins.
- Visit as many living relatives as possible to get their stories now. Often family stories have some truth in them. But don’t believe them till verified.
- I used to get so frustrated when relatives didn’t want to share. They came here to escape hard things and who wants to talk about that? But every now and then I’ll find a subject that sparks stories. Don’t waste your time on this one -people pass away and take all kinds of wonderful antectdotes with them. I didn’t know my grandma was called “Sarge” (long story) until a family gathering at her funeral. Oh, what I would give to hear her side of the story!
- If a document exists, read it. Every detail that is written on it.
- You’d be amazed at the connections you might find.
- Learn to record your sources of where (or who) you obtained information from. The sooner you start doing this, the better. And later you’ll be thankful that you took the time to note it now.
- Then you won’t be going through this massive fix-my-past-mistakes project like me.