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I Love a True Story, Real Photos, and Trees with Sources

By Jan Edwards

I love a story that is true, a photo if it’s really them and a tree that has sources and great documentation. I’m going to get myself in trouble today with my thoughts and feelings about today’s genealogy methods, but since it’s my blog post, and I am free to be and write what I want, I’m going to write it anyway.

I work in a family history center on Wednesday nights. Each Wednesday it’s basically the same thing. People come in, sit down, log in, click on a name and are excited “they” just took their lines back to Jesus, or Adam, Noah, or King George and Princess Diana.

One little click and boom! They have “done” their genealogy. The weird part to me is they believe that. With all the great shows on TV that show a famous person going from themselves and ending back in Russia, Denmark, Ireland all in 60 minutes with the documentation, it makes genealogy seem so easy.

People do not realize someone spent a great deal of time in archives digging out the information or the expense that it cost to hire professionals who live and work in the area and know exactly what they are doing so that someone can fly from one place to the next and “gather” the information. One thing about it though is at least they are “gathering” documentation.

The commercial that states “It’s as easy as typing in a name” makes me cringe. There are great helps now, little leaves that shake all the documents you will ever need! It’s so very common for someone asking for help that when you ask, “Where did you get that information,” for a quick reply they say, “It was online.” We all know that if it’s online it’s correct and true right!

So many times only the direct line is wanted. Yet, most of the time the answers I find to go back another generation I locate NOT on my direct line. If a person has five kids, I need the data on all five kids. Just maybe one of those kids will have a death certificate that gives a little better data, one more little clue. To no avail, the modern day researcher is in such a huge hurry to get back and “finish” it all up that they don’t do enough “leg work” to successfully “go back” to the next generation.

People actually get a little short with you when you ask, “Where did you get the information?” Was there any documentation? Yet, on this type of “brickwall” you just have to know where it came from especially if that name is a common name or you are finding absolutely nothing.

So this is how my crazy little mind works:

  1. Family history is a history about my family that includes my aunts and uncles and their families. It would be a pretty lonely little world without my cousins. I cry when they cry. I laugh when they laugh.

  2. Part of family history is knowing the area or what it was when the family was living there.

  3. Family history is not a race. Getting back to Adam is pretty dang impossible. After all, there was a flood.

  4. The documentation and sourcing are the stories! That’s the fun of research. Seeing their handwriting and finding a little piece of the amazing puzzle of life.

  5. I want to savor a document, dissect each and every word on it, timeline it, and understand it. I want to see and learn from each word to pick up a missing initial, date, one little clue that might guide me to the next little clue.

  6. It seems like in every generation there was one little “built in” genealogist in the family, one person that was more drawn to keeping records. I want to find that one!

  7. I don’t get discouraged when I type in a name and nothing comes up. So many new records come on daily. When there is not an online record, I smile knowing that only a very small percentage of records are online and that there are archives, courthouses, bibles and hidden treasures somewhere out there!

  8. I want to know how I link to each and every one of you, after all Adam and Eve begat.

I guess this is how I woke up this morning and how I was thinking. I love a story that is true, a photo if it’s really them and a tree that has sources and great documentation. Kudos to all those that when they share have those available!

Join us on Monday, October 7th as I present on FamilySearch Records: Getting the Most From Records.

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