I’ve compiled a list of advice from pro genealogists and thought I’d share these golden words with you all. Some of its common sense, all of it is a great reminder.
Always start from yourself and work from there.
Don’t forget to write your own history. Be a good ancestor.
Honor your living relatives. Don’t post their information online without it being protected. Don’t go against any of their wishes to not have certain pieces of information made public or put online. Don’t disrespect them or your ancestors when interviewing or asking for information.
You can’t do it all for free. This goes for online searches, accessing archives, or even getting documents and information from relatives. You gotta give something to get something more often than not whether its buying dinner or paying for a membership.
Don’t make assumptions. Never assume a document doesn’t exist because you can’t find it online. Never assume a relative in one family tree is the same one in yours without proof. Never assume that a name and date will be the same in any database or document (name spellings and dates even on vital stats documents are notoriously different from person to person, page to page).
Verify, verify, verify. Again with not making assumptions. Verify your research with two independent sources. Most common question in genealogy: “Says who?”
Be organized and consistent online and off with your data. Keep notes on everything.
Record things as they are, not as you would like them to be.
Be careful of expectations. Don’t expect to find your whole family tree online. Do expect surprises.
Don’t wait to get stories and DNA from elderly relatives. Bring along photos and ask who was in them, where they were taken, when, etc. Write it all down or record it.
Ask for help. Reach out to relatives, genealogy associations, groups online, etc. Be willing to learn.
Don’t write a chart in pen.
Call ahead. Do not expect a records office, library, etc to be open just because its their usual office hours. Always call ahead.
Remember to have fun. Keep it in perspective. Family history is important but so is living and taking care of yourself.
For more standard rules of genealogy and great advice check out:
The Genealogy Do Over Workbook by Thomas MacEntee (affiliate link)