Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Click Your Way Genealogical Success Online - Part Five

Moving Past Traditional Genealogical Research

If you started working on your own family history by reading about genealogical research or attending classes in a seminar or at a conference, someone probably mentioned the "Research Cycle." Here is a common iconic depiction of the Research Cycle.

The first step is commonly called the Survey Step or identifying what you know and what has already been done. From my own experience in working with newly minted genealogists over the years, I am certain that they are frequently plowing the field that has been plowed for generations before they started investigating their family. It is possible that the newcomer is the first in his or her family to take an interest in genealogy, but that may only be the case in the very first few generations.

Some cultures around the world have long-standing family history traditions. In Asian countries, family histories may have been kept for hundreds, even thousands of years. Large percentages of those currently living in the United States are descendants of European immigrants and there are a lot of records to search before you can truly claim any originality. As I have written before, my own survey took about fifteen years of research in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah before I could begin to find people who had not been recorded previously. Much of what I found turned out to be inaccurate, but rather than spend my time making the same mistakes, it was necessary to see what had already been recorded.

The huge online family tree program has a feature called Instant Discoveries™. When you first sign into the program, depending on the country of your origin, this feature may produce information about more than 50 people for your new family tree. But this is only one of the technological advancements that have dramatically changed the way people should be approaching genealogy today. There are literally millions of individual family trees online with billions of entries showing relationships all around the world. Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to help a lady from Vietnam begin her family history. She was astounded to find that other members of her family had already entered s significant amount of information into the Family Tree. She had no idea that anyone else was aware of her ancestry. This experience is becoming more and more common.  

The process of doing a survey is much more accessible than it was at the time I did my original survey. But unfortunately, it is also fragmented on websites from around the world. The goal of the Family Tree is shared with some other large online family tree websites: to unify and gather together all of the information known about the ancestry of the entire world. After all is said and done in genealogy, we are one large family and we all share a common heritage. What is happening today online is making it possible to realize that goal.

Meanwhile, any beginning point for genealogical research must start with an online survey. The simplest way to do that is to begin putting your own family tree online. The Family Tree is free and open to all and will always remain free. has a free component. Here is a quote from the website:
MyHeritage family sites are based on subscriptions. Basic sites are free. If you are a member of a Basic site (a non-paying member), the limit of people that can be entered in the tree is 250 and the limit of storage space is 500 MB. This includes all family trees on the site, whether they were created online or in Family Tree Builder and published to the site afterward.
I spent a substantial amount of time and money doing my original survey. With either of these programs and an expenditure of far less time and money, I could now find much more information than I did many years ago. But with this technological advantage come some substantial challenges. I must still sift through a lot of wrong, inaccurate, and incomplete information to find the kernels of accuracy. 

Stay tuned for future installments. 

You can read the previous posts in this series here:

Part Three:
Part Two:
Part One:

No comments:

Post a Comment