by Paul Buchanan
Genealogy is a popular pastime today, especially since the expansion of the internet made it easier, faster and more cost-effective to track down long-lost family members and ancestors from all parts of the world. Whether you’re just starting out on your genealogy quest, or looking for tips to help your progress, learning from other peoples’ mistakes could help you avoid the common pitfalls of ancestry searching.
One important thing to remember is never to make assumptions that could prove untrue, as this could end up harming your search. If there are frustrating gaps in the puzzle that you’re desperate to fill, wait until solid, reliable evidence comes to light, rather than making guesses that could be erroneous. Even family stories should be taken with a pinch of salt if there’s no evidence to back up their claims, especially when they concern supposed royal or noble blood that may simply be untrue.
Your first step should always be to gather as much information as you are able from your current sources, which includes digging around in dusty attics and making visits or phone calls to your relatives to find out everything they know about your family history. When these pieces are in place, you should have a number of leads that can be expanded on when you get involved in advanced genealogy searching, and you may also get a rough idea of how far back you’re able to go.
Once you have gone as far as you can, there’s always hope that other ancestors and relatives you track down could hold the key to people even further back in history. Each new ancestor you find has a story and families of their own, leading you to new and unknown branches of your family history.
If this is your first time researching genealogy, you should be aware of just how large family trees can grow to, considering the exponential figures involved in each successive generation. While it’s likely that you already know a great deal about your two parents and four grandparents, this doubling can soon become staggering – from eight great-grandparents to sixteen great-great-grandparents and so on.
To make things more manageable, you may wish to narrow your focus and search only for your father’s or mother’s side of the family, respectively. You can always complete your family tree by adding another set of branches later. Either way, many people find that embarking on a genealogy project to trace their family’s roots is a very worthwhile experience, and one that leaves them with a greater sense of where they come from by the end of it.
Paul Buchanan writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency.
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