With genealogy, it’s important to realise that only a small percentage of records are online, despite the large volume of records that have been digitised in the last ten years. Some databases have a “Browse image only” facility where indexing of the images has not yet been completed: these will require a lot of your time to work through, but may hold that vital clue you have been looking for. Even in today’s digital age, legwork is still vital, and you will probably have to visit an archive or records office at some stage in your research.
Some of your relatives will be interested in your research and will need to know where you got your information from. In the Irish Family History Centre (CHQ Building, Dublin), we sometimes meet people who arrive armed with another relative’s research but have no idea where the information came from. To help your relatives you yourself should begin by recording your sources (records) with proper citations.
Organise your research so that you can find it quickly on a workable filing system. I myself am currently in the throes of properly organising my own years of research! Having an online tree, for example, is a good way of organising your information. I found it particularly useful to have my tree with me when I undertook my US research in New York City and New York State in Spring 2017. If you receive hints for your online tree, look at each hint carefully before accepting the hint into your tree. Never assume that the hint is correct, but analyse it to make sure it relates to your ancestor. Again, have records to back up your research.
Nominate someone in your family to look after your tree should the unexpected happen. I have shared my password with my immediate family and also with one of my cousins in New York. I use a password manager so that all my passwords are accessible to my family. Compiling your family history is a very enjoyable and rewarding pursuit. I now have relatives on Facebook that I didn’t know existed ten years ago. Some I met when they visited Ireland; I paid a return visit to them in the US. It’s important for them and all our descendants that we pass on an accurate and verifiable family tree!
By Maura Flood