Do you spend time laser-focused on a specific branch of your family? An individual? Or perhaps you hop from ancestor to another as the spirit takes you? All of these are fine if you are capturing the source information so that six months, ten years or more you or a descendant will know where you got your information. Let’s look at revisiting our research.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear from a “cousin” on Living DNA matches. Neither of us have a tree published there but a quick comparison of surnames helped us identify our connections. While I’ve been doing genealogy for over thirty years, the relative has just recently started on this branch. I have many things to share and look forward to helping them fill in the missing pieces of their family tree. As I gathered information to share, I was dismayed to discover that even twenty plus years ago I did not indicate where information about our common ancestors came from. I know the information was from family stories shared by other relatives. Much of it cannot be verified because the records don’t exist for that time in Ireland. What is a genealogist to do?!! First you need to be honest with yourself. Twenty years ago, when I wrote a book about this branch, the internet was blossoming, but the plethora of online data was not available like it is today. We relied on family, friends, precious records received via snail mail. We still rely on these today but now we often can supplement this information with verifiable records. As you know I’m on a mission to get everything scanned and digitized for safekeeping. I’m not ready to throw away paper copies but I’ll feel better having key documents safeguarded with an external hard drive as well as online using programs like OneDrive. With my cousin’s recent request, I’ve become more aware of the importance of revisiting my research. A lot can change in twenty years!
Here are some things that I’ve learned and plan to do next.
Not only will reviewing your research help you identify what else you need to find, you will be amazed at what you’ve already discovered. It’s good to pause and review and pat ourselves on the back for what we’ve accomplished. And it will give you added incentive to fine-tune and improve your research in the future. Happy researching!
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.