Genealogy Research Rules of Thumb


Read introductory books on genealogical research.

You'll save yourself a lot of time and frustration if you read through these kinds of resources and follow their advice.  

Use volunteer assistance gently and sparingly.

Appreciate that it takes time to do look ups and research for others. Most volunteers have jobs, families, and research projects of their own. When asking for a volunteer for information always follow the given guidelines or your request may not be fulfilled.  

Use primary sources whenever possible.

A primary source is a record with information that came from your ancestors as close to the recorded event as possible. For example, a baptismal record is a primary source. A book written about your family is a secondary source. 

Use original sources whenever possible.

Transcribed and translated records can be extremely helpful, but can contain errors. It's best to find the original record and copy it for yourself. 

Use more than one source to verify the information you find in primary sources.

While primary sources are the best for getting your information, mistakes were occasionally made so they're not 100% accurate. 

Do not incorporate someone else's research or pedigree into your own without verifying the sources yourself.

Not all pedigrees are 100% accurate. When you download others' GEDCOMs or receive information from a secondary source, keep them separate from your family tree until you are sure their research methods were as thorough as your own. 

2002 Annette M. Wasno