Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Family Tree Journey – In the Beginning

So when I look at records I generated a couple decades ago, and see how incomplete they are, how many assumptions (many of them erroneous) that I made, I have no regrets.  I see what every family tree archivist must produce before they have the the experience, the classes, the knowledge to move beyond beginner.

I also see a solid framework upon which I may hang the marvelous details so easily accessible in literally billions of digitized books and document, with powerful, hi-speed search engines and Internet. Without the simple tree which I put together long ago, doing a search on the Ancestry website, and contemplating the vast amount of conflicting data presented in millions of differentiating trees, would be utterly overwhelming to me. Where to begin?!

Instead of envying the newbie genealogist their swift and powerful modern tools, I commiserate with their dilemma. For tools so quick and potent may surely take one far and swiftly in the wrong direction just as well as the right one. Which to choose? Where to put one's confidence for what records to trust?

I would say to them, begin where we all must begin - with you. Put down your own vital facts, add your parents, then their parents. Ahh, you begin to feel the truth of the endless journey: the names you want to document double with every new generation! You only have four grandparents -- but you have sixty-four great-great-great-great-grandparents!!

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