Saturday, November 13, 2010

Genealogists Really do Improve with Age!

After you've been researching your family history for a dozen or so years, it's easy to forget that in the process you've probably become a better genealogist. So what? Well, if you've stuck on a brick wall ancestor for quite a while, you might want to consider starting over from scratch, re-evaluate any documents you've found on the person, and re-search all relevant data resources.

I regularly apply this thinking to my Genealogy Today Subscription Data project. It was started in 2003, and over the years I've improved many of the steps of the process of taking an original document from paper to digitized data. Likewise, scanning technology and software continues to improve.

Every so often, I spend several hours revisiting the documents handled in "the early days". This past week, I discovered several documents that were "insufficiently" transcribed. There were no inaccuracies, but there was more data in the document that could have been captured in the process. Tomorrow, they'll be re-uploaded along with all the new documents for the week.

A while back, I did a similar exercise with my own family research. Using the tree building tools at Ancestry.com I started with a blank tree, added my parents and grandparents, and let the features that Ancestry provides do the rest. When you step back and allow yourself to ignore your own internal knowledgebase, sometimes you'll stumble across a new fact or two.

So, while indeed it is a tremendous challenge just keeping up with all the new resources arriving online, don't forget to periodically go back and retrace your roots. There are over 5,000 original documents in my subscription database, and anyone may search the name indexes for free.

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