Thursday, January 2, 2014

Still Alive... A Few Thoughts

Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2014.

I haven't written much lately, it's been almost a month.  Chalk it up to busy holidays and not much to say that other geneabloggers were not already covering in sufficient quantities.

And chalk it up to a lack of inspiration, I guess.  I'm still working my lines, mostly by filling in citations and adding documentation to existing people in my tree, but with some occasional additions.  Of most note for that has been working the US Censuses to document people.  I find often enough that when I look at the Census entry or a person, I've missed one or more people from their family.

If you're relatively new to genealogy and still discovering a lot of people in your ancestry, you should strongly consider taking the time to do the documentation up front, as you find people.  I know it's exciting to discover more and more names, tracing your lines back further into history!  I got sucked into that, too. But there comes a point when you reach the end of what's relatively easy to discover, and you start looking for something to make your genealogy better.  That's where the documentation process often starts.  You read other blogs and see how much supporting data others have on their lines, then look at yours and wonder how they got all of that information you're missing...

That's when you go back and start looking at where you can possibly find all of that.  And if you're new to genealogy, you're doing about 99% of it online.  Most of the oldtimers did it all with pencil and paper, and books, and writing letters to various local, state and federal record holders, paying for photocopies to be sent through the postal system.  Snail mail.  Those folks will tell you that the vast majority of records are still not online, that you're missing a lot of information despite the treasure troves you're finding.  And they're right, despite the torrid pace of digitization efforts everywhere.

Then there are the ones who tell you in no uncertain terms that you MUST cite your sources!  And you should use (a particular) format!  Well, yes, you really should cite your sources.  After all, citation lets people follow the trail to the document or source so they can also use it, or verify your material.  But you really don't have to use a particular format.  You should at least make it as clear as possible. 

At least you have the advantage of modern computers and software.  And the genealogy software makers have been getting the hint, and making it easier to record citations, easier to find them in the first place.  The online services like and and the like have been adding records at a furious pace, and making a simple checkbox all it takes to add a citation to the records you find.

Ah, well, I'm rambling.  But that's where I am, back to filling in the blanks, seeking the documentation I rushed past in my haste to get more names, more dates.  Genealogy is never entirely done!  And I'd hope to see you avoid my mistakes, if you could.  Treat it like the research it truly is, do the work and find the documents, cite your sources.  That way you don't have to go back over it a third or fourth time, adding stuff you didn't bother to look for the first couple of times.

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2013 by Daniel G. Dillman

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