I’ve mentioned it before, but repeating it might not be a bad idea.

Consider writing up one of your ancestors or families you’ve “finished” or think you are reasonably close to finishing. Write it and explain your reasoning and methodology. I virtually guarantee you that in the writing you will notice something you neglected to do, an assumption that you think now might not be correct, or an error in your reasoning.

And if you don’t, then get it published!

Since I’ve been writing Casefile Clues I have really noticed a few things of this kind in my own research and it’s forced me to pick up the loose ends, organize, etc. Even if you have no intention of publishing, putting it together as if you are can be a very good thing.



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  1. I've found that even just blogging has helped me identify “holes”. I'm sure that a more thorough “writing up” of one of my families would really identify even more things!!

  2. The only problem I see with waiting until you have filled all the holes is you will never be done. I think there comes a point when you need to say to yourself that it's time to publish the information that is available at that point. Although I would have loved to find more information on the missing people for my Habben book I felt it was time to get the information out to family before it was lost forever. Just recently I have come into contact with one of the missing links and hope to learn more from them. But, I also found that they didn't even know that their own grandmother had brothers and sisters. So by publishing my work I am now able to share with them the photographs and what I like to call “family lore” because so many of the stories of every day life cannot be verified – we can only go by what has been passed down. Facts can be verified but the sad or funny stories cannot. Sometimes you just have to do the best you can.

  3. There was a reason I put “finished” in quotes (grin). The problem, which Terri alluded to, is that most people never bother to even write anything of what they have researched and discovered and then, while the search might have been fun, none of their work has been preserved.

  4. You are so so so right Michael! What I wouldn't give to have something that was documented by my family – even if it just had their slant on the event. There are a set of diaries that were kept by a person in our family – but the family that has possession of them is unwilling to share the information. I guess that is why the few precious letters we have are such treasures – at list we get a small glimps into their lives…..

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