GeneaChat: “Foolish Mistakes”-What Have You Learned? 4

“Foolish Mistakes”-What Have You Learned?

We've all been there. A beginner. No matter if it's genealogy or some other thing in our lives, we all have been a "newbie".

That means making mistakes. As we attempt something new, we will make mistakes. Things will not always go smoothly and we will do things the wrong way, produce errors and just plain mess up!

If we can see our mistakes and correct them, we will learn from it. Hopefully. Sometimes we end up doing the same things over and over which leads to wasted time and frustration.

My “Foolish Mistakes" True Confession

One of my biggest mistakes as I began my genealogy journey was not citing my sources correctly. Heck, sometimes I didn't cite them at all! It took me awhile to realize because "Grandmom said so" was not a complete source. This has led to many a heavy sigh and pulling my hair out as I try to retrace my steps and figure out where on earth I found certain information.

Organization was a big newbie issue. Stacks of papers, documents and all matter of non-genealogy related items were often piled on my desk. Not entering in and updating my genealogy data base after research trips caused a problem when I wanted to continue a family line. How could I look for more information when what I had already found was not recorded?

Then there was going to archives, libraries and other places to research without a plan. Not much is accomplished when you don't have goals in mind and know what you want to look for. Those early trips were not successful. Hmmm. I wonder why?

Ok. Once other confession. Trusting in the work others had done was a big mistake! At first I didn't occur to me the books, pamphlets and pedigree charts and emails sent to me by other family researchers could be WRONG! I dutifully plugged in the information into my data base with joy. Look how far back I was now with this information! Quickly, I started discovering errors. Babies born to woman who were way too young to have given birth, fathers who were born a century after their child.... you know the problems these well-meaning, unsourced records can be.

What can help to prevent "Foolish Mistakes"? Education. We don't know what we don't know until we find out we don't know it.

As these mistakes began to bug me and cause me to lose time, I began to seek out information to help me learn to correct them. I read books on source citations, and organization. I realized I needed to use the information gained from others as a clue and do the research myself to confirm or reject their findings. And? I needed to learn how to prepare and use a research plan! What a difference that made!

Am I finished with making these or other "Foolish Mistakes"? Probably not. There are always more things to learn and ways to grow.

Sharing my "newbie" mistakes in beginning genealogy classes helps my students understand and be aware of the potential for the same errors in the own genealogy research and habits. If I can prevent just one limb from being pruned off a tree due to incorrect information, a lost record taking 30 minutes of precious research time to locate, retracing steps to find a source or coming home from a research trip frustrated because of not having a plan I will consider it a job well done!

Ok, Geneachatters, now it's your turn.

What foolish mistakes have you made? Fess up, we've all made them! What is your advice to help prevent them? What have you learned by making them?

Please share your thoughts and ideas. You may have just the thing that will help a fellow genealogist!

You can participate in this month’s GeneaChat by writing a blog post sharing your experiences with our topic and leaving the link in the comments below. If you don’t have a blog, you may also join in the fun by using the comment section to share your ancestor’s stories.

Remember that your posts and comments will be part of GeneaChat:"Foolish Mistakes-What Have You Learned? on Thursday April 27, 2017.

Can’t wait to see what y’all are saying about this!

Thanks for GeneaChatting!

Cheri Hudson Passey

About Cheri Hudson Passey

Cheri Hudson Passey is a Professional Genealogist, Instructor, Writer and Speaker. She is the owner of Carolina Girl Genealogy, LLC which provides research services as well as instruction and coaching though her Genealogy 1-on-1 classes. Born in South Carolina, Cheri has roots in the state for many generations. Her blog Carolina Girl Genealogy has helped tell the story of these ancestors and her research process. You can contact Cheri by email or by visiting her blog Carolina Girl Genealogy. Cheri Hudson Passey writes the Modus Operandi column for Going In-Depth Magazine.

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