Friday, August 24, 2012

Using the leaves

I am a big fan of the leaves at They take me to a few records--usually not nearly as many as might actually be available, but at least they provide a start, and to a number of online family trees.

I know--expect inaccuracy. Agreed. But don't avoid hints and information because you have to have accuracy at every moment. I like to follow the leaves wherever they lead. Often, people with public family trees online have information that I don't have, and have put in names they know about. There may be inaccuracies, and there may also be gold mines. I plunk the names into my family tree program, and I work with them until I find they are incorrect. Sometimes they are incorrect, and having proved that provides a certain sense of satisfaction and a drive to find the real answer. Often the names given are correct. I work and check, work and check. The beauty of the digital age is that everything is easily erased or changed. Sometimes the fact that someone has made an error can actually lead to useful facts. The facts might be off by a generation, or the name spelling might be off by a few letters.

I find this approach very helpful in working with genetic matches. If you can't trust the information, you can't rely on it. But you can use it and bracket it off as a temporary result, ready to be corrected with better research.