7 Do’s and Don’ts to Keep in Mind When Researching Your Family History

Some old photos and records

Finding family history can be incredibly fun and often pleasantly surprising. But it’s also quite complicated.  Think of it as putting together a very intricate puzzle—you’re bound to mess up, and it will largely be a process based on trial and error.

 

And while getting expert DNA research assistance is your best bet, keeping these dos and don’ts in mind should also help.

 

DO: Make Sure to Rely on Reliable Sources

When you’re starting the research process, it’s important to take some time out and study the sources that are considered accurate. And then always proceed to make sure that the facts you include in your research are backed by one, or better yet, two strong sources.

 

Keep in mind that even a single inaccurate fact could throw your entire family tree off course.

DON’T: Get Sidetracked with Irrelevant Family Stories

When building your family tree, it’s incredibly important to stay focused. This means focusing on facts and reliable sources rather than family tales and legends. Even if some of the family stories are genuine—they’re not likely to add much value to your research, so it’s best to avoid them.

DO: Remember to Be Flexible When Using Databases

The databases available so easily on the internet are treasure troves for the most part, but you have to use them right.

 

Don’t look only for the exact spellings of the names you have nor the exact dates. It’s very common for these records to be incorrect, so always be flexible when going through these databases. Try to find the closest matches with name variations.

DON’T: Limit Your Research to Online Sources

Online resources are great, but there are a lot of offline resources people tend to ignore. From the old boxes in your attic to the local library, there’s a lot of information stored in these seemingly simple sources—make sure to include them in your search.

DO: Collect Resources from Relatives

A collection of old artifacts and records

 

You know that box of old photos and birth and death certificates in your attic that you’ve found very useful for your research? Chances are that you’ll find a lot of similar boxes in your relative’s homes—make sure to gather them all for the complete picture.

DON’T: Forget to Ask the Living Ancestors What They Already Know

Online resources are great and, when used correctly, pretty accurate. But most people miss out on utilizing the single most important and easily accessible source, i.e., living relatives!

 

Here’s a tip, when you pick up the boxes of old records from your relatives, have a conversation with them. Or go and visit the great aunt who loves telling stories.

 

While you have to take everything with a pinch of salt and do your own research too, the facts you gather from the elders of the family may point you in the right direction, thus saving time!

 

DO: Ask for Help When Needed

When you hit brick wall after brick wall and start feeling frustrated with the process—ask for help.

 

As online DNA analysts, we’re always here to provide expert DNA research assistance when needed. Our genetic genealogy services are designed to help knock down brick walls while educating you about the research process.

 

Get in touch with us if you’re feeling stuck!