View Full Version : If you were starting to do Family History :

Jeanie with one n.
21-12-07, 14:32
But had the knowledge that you have now,
what would you change?

To be honest, I'm not sure that I would do much differently because I have not changed my ways but so wish that I had kept better notes on sources.
And to that end, why I had come to some of the conclusions that I have.
I now look at these and have no idea!!

I also wish that I had copied some of the e-mails that I received so I would remember where a particular connection was from.
I do ask people with family connection to sign my guest book on tribal pages but many don't or don't put what their connection is and I forget who they are.

I also sooo wish that I had not done my major clear-out of notes etc from various record offices that I carried out in the summer because I cannot find something that I know that I had.

Would you do things differently?

21-12-07, 14:37
I would have not bothered with the hours spent trawling through the BMD indexes on 1837 online (as was) when it was only indexed by the first couple of letters of surname but either waited until they had the first & last name index or until FreeBMD and Family Relatives had lots of indexing done.

And I would have paid my first visit to the Nottinghamshire Archives sooner.

Also I wouldn't have typed everything up and sent it out to all my rellies just before making my most exciting find of all!

21-12-07, 14:42
I'd save copies of one particular website I found as shortly after I contacted him the man took the page off the internet and I don't have a copy - just the notes I made.

It's all about the woman in my tree who married two princes and a count and although I made a note of their names I can't find her daughters name to find out what husban she belonge dto.

And, I'd set strict boundaries as to what bits I put into the tree. When I first started I included the ascendancy of married ins and put them up on Genes. Despite having cleared the irrelevant people out of my tree at least a year ago I still get people contacting me about them. It's very annoying as I no longer have the information anywhere and some people can be very rude when you tell them you're not researching the people they're after.

21-12-07, 15:28
I would write it up - properly - as I went along, taking the time to try out the software before I even started.
And I would never look another website or visit another record office until all my notes were sorted out.

(Unfortunately, this would necessitate a change of personality!)

Uncle John
21-12-07, 15:55
I would write it up - properly - as I went along, taking the time to try out the software before I even started.
And I would never look another website or visit another record office until all my notes were sorted out.

(Unfortunately, this would necessitate a change of personality!)

I couldn't possibly do it that way. I'd still be back just 2 generations, with piles of paper and not a lot to show for it.

I'm happy with my "stick it all in and sort it out as I go along" method. I know which bits I can trust. If I didn't record the other stuff in FTM as I went along I'd never get round to it.

21-12-07, 16:52
Um, I meant stick on a puter, where you can find it again, not have piles of files, print outs, notebooks etc, all unindexed.

Oh, and make sure images of census pages etc are in a standard readable format. I've got 1841 & 1901 images in formats my office computer doesn't recognise.

Anne in Carlisle
21-12-07, 17:17
Phoenix, I so agree. I love the 'thrill of the chase' and somehow I often don't get round to putting it on the computer. Months later I remeber I found something out but is it with the relevant person on the computer??? .... is it ***! :( So I have to go through all my notebooks yet again!

Trouble is I couldn't decide whether to add something which isn't proven. I have recently made up my mind that I will add things that point in the right direction and make SURE I've added the sources so I can find them again and so I can see if it is a less than reliable source.

Whether I stick to my decision is another matter. Where do you go to get this personality change? :D


Jeanie with one n.
21-12-07, 17:54
Zoe, I would also be stricter with whom I put in my tree. In the beginning I was so excited to find anyone that great reams of married ins had their rellies added, and all from the LDS which may have been rubbish!!
Now I try to put in parents of a married in but go no further back. This is to help with confirming the connection.
Having said that I recently went to a record office and found several generations back for a married in and have put them on my tree.
Just to help my recent contact, of course.

Little Nell
21-12-07, 19:52
1. I would download PAF from FamilySearch.org - Family History and Genealogy Records (http://www.familysearch.org) and put ALL my findings on it as I went along

2. I woud have separate notebooks for each records office/archive.

3. Scrupulously record every reference for stuff I found and equally, scrupulously record every place I've searched and what for (ie different ways of spelling names).

4. I'd be more inclined to accept alternative spellings, changes of name etc.

5. I'd be less inclined to accept alternative spellings, changes of name, etc.

I know 4 and 5 contradict eachother, but that's what I've learned through experience!

22-12-07, 00:36
Now, I NEVER throw away notes or references. What you once know to be an absolute truth rebounds and kicks you in the teeth months (or years) later!

Night Owl
22-12-07, 00:45
I would concentrate more on one line at a time instead of flitting about here, there and everywhere and getting confused in the process.

I would record each line as a separate file in FTM rather than one big tree. Now I really should get round to splitting it into more manageable files.

I would stop getting distracted by other interesting things that I "trip over" when I'm researching.

Sounds like a list of New Year's Resolutions!


Jean and Tonic
22-12-07, 02:36
I would have asked my parents and grandparents ....... EVERYTHING I could think of !!!

They would have been sick of my endless chattering ..... and I would have invested in a camera .... even though I probably didn't know a thing about them ... and couldn't really afford one anyway.


Barbara Dodds
22-12-07, 10:06
I would have recorded all my sources as I went along, and I would aslo have at least found bmd references for deaths at the time. I'm now faced with reams of rellies who are over 100 years old and its a daunting task trying to kiill them all off so to speak

22-12-07, 11:39
I'd have started years ago, when the people who'd know stuff were still alive! Oh, I wish I'd listened to my mother more. (Now I never thought I'd ever say that!! :()

I'd have noted sources more carefully, and entered stuff on FTM as I found it.

I'd have marked on my 'paper tree' who I'd entered on my 'computer tree', so I didn't have to keep checking that I hadn't missed adding anyone. :confused:

I'd have been more careful about noting which contact told me what. (I was told by someone that one of my g x 3 g'mothers was listed in the 1841 census as a widow. That led me to find her husband's death cert, and her second marriage, and the marriages of her children from first husband. Expanded my tree a lot - and I've no idea who to thank! :o)

I'd have plucked up the courage to apply for my father's Barnardo's records sooner - thought they were coming this month, but because he was shipped off to Canada, I've got to wait another 6 months!

But despite all this, I'm still glad I did start! :)


Mavis by the Moor
22-12-07, 15:02
I'd have made sure this site was here when I started and found it on the first day!

Jill on the A272
22-12-07, 20:15
I wish I'd had a proper computer from the beginning, 3 years of walking once a week to the library (30 mins each way) to use their computer for just an hour meant work progressed very slowly.

Simon in Bucks
23-12-07, 00:21
I'd have been organised better !

I've gone off on all directions back........rather than just two direct routes back (such as my direct male route back...............or on my mothers side her father, then direct male route back).

I now have an absolute stack of info on my Direct Ancestors, just need to organise it better. I have loads of certs as well (nearly 200 of them).

Over Xmas I'll knuckle down and sort it out.

Olde Crone Holden
23-12-07, 14:21
I wish I had ignored everything my father told me. I wish I had listened to everything my father told me.

I have just had a marriage cert which I have been hunting for, for years. The bride's name is Woodhead and I suddenly remembered my father saying his 2 x GGM was called Martha Woodhead.

I thought he had muddled this up with his 2 x GGM who was called Martha WHITEhead - but he hadn't!


23-12-07, 16:38
I don't think I would change anything...except keep my files a bit tidier! I do like a paper trail..it went with my job...so I have to have files to browse through and study. It's surprising what suddenly jumps out at you .... and can send you off searching a bit more.

I've been blessed with finding several 2nd and third cousins through my own hard work and some have found me.

Between us we have managed to fill is so many missing gaps in the Irish side of our Pollard family and swapped many photo's of each of our grandparents, all unknow to all of us except for my 2nd Cousin Pat is the USA. Her Grandmother was one of my Irish Grandfather's sisters and she was the only one who knew all the names of the siblings and our Gt grandparents.

Also discovered that my Dad had loads of photo's of 'unknowns'.."probably your Mum's relatives in the USA" he said. Sure enough they were. Pat was able to give me their names and who they belong to. It's so nice to put some names to the faces on pictures that you grew up with, but had no idea who they were!

Now I no longer have any living parents...I must make sure I put names on the back of all old photo's so my children will know who they are...I really must and so must you!

Muggins in Sussex
23-12-07, 16:56
I would never assume that anything I had been told by relatives was correct - and would have started logically at the most recent - i.e. by getting my own certificate first, and then my grandparents'. I have discovered to my cost that some of my very closest relatives have been somewhat economical with the truth.

Also I would be much more organised, so that I didn't end up sending for certs that I already had!

Glen in Tinsel Knickers
23-12-07, 16:59
I just wish i could have found more living rellies to quiz and question. That's not to say that i can't still do so, but in the early days going back seemed more important than coming forwards.

I would change the way i record my sources too, i put everything in the notes of my FTM programme and not in their "proper" place, now i want to quickly and easily find burial references obtained from Family History Online that i have added to notes, IF i had recorded them as burials i could print the whole lot out in one report in two mouse clicks.
Seeing as my lot lived in quite a small part of a city for years it would make life easier to weed out the duplicate names in the bmd and order certs locally with more confidence.