Find What You Can–Not What You Want

Your genealogical goals should be to discover as much as you can about your ancestor using all records at your disposal and trying to represent those records and what they say as accurately as possible.

And sometimes that might not be what we actually want to find out.

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3 thoughts on “Find What You Can–Not What You Want

  1. toni

    Oh, that is so true! The blogs say get this document, get that document, prove everything. That’s fine but it costs too much to buy everything. All I care about is the people. If I’m satisfied I have the right people, the evidence is secondary. Nobody is paying me to prove anything.

    1. michaeljohnneill Post author

      My intent with the tip was that the researcher should not research with an agenda of what they want to prove, but rather should locate whatever they can–even if it goes against a preconceived notion they may have about the ancestor or family in question. As far as getting every document is concerned, that’s something of a separate issue. One does want to make certain that they are not “missing something crucial,” but I understand not being able to access or afford everything. Typically I obtain as much as I can on direct line ancestors and not quite that level of documentation on others. Unless of course the information is conflicting and confusing, in which case I may and try to obtain additional records. Also “how much” I obtain depends on the time period and location.


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