Monday, March 21, 2011

Mad props to those doing genealogy right

Genealogy, it seems, is the hobby of the moment. Some of us have been doing it for years before it became "in." And some of us have discovered an interest in it because of its increase in popularity. Doesn't matter your reasons - but for some of the more recent genealogy converts, (and some of us who have been doing it for so long that we really should know better) easy Internet access to other people's often unsourced trees has led to a proliferation of inaccurate information. People copy trees and then quote those trees as "sources," perpetrating a vicious cycle of bad research.

Believe me, I get how people get caught up in the excitement of finding what they think is an accurate family history when just the day before they knew nothing about their ancestry - if only things in life were that easy, but they rarely are, are they? This is not to say every person has to do their own research from scratch - that's part of the reason we're all doing this, so future generations don't have to - but check that the information you're taking is sourced and it'd be worth your time to check those sources to see if they're primary or secondary sources (the ones that will be most accurate).

That being said, I'd like to use this blog post to recognize those of you who are doing genealogy right. In particular, I'd like to single out Tom M. For those of you who have been following this blog, you'll know that Tom is a distant cousin of mine who only recently started researching his family tree and we've been corresponding, sharing ideas and information. Since he and I started e-mailing only a couple of months ago, he has been knocking down brick walls for our shared family branch left and right. Not only that, but he's been building up accurate and comprehensive bios on as many of his ancestors as he can. He is using all avenues at his disposal - family letters and photos, primary and secondary sources from the trees of distant relatives, such as mine, visiting cemeteries, ordering vital records from the New York Municipal Archives. The Internet is where his search began, but he has used it simply as a jumping off point, which is what it should be - he found e-mail addresses and contact information for people in other states who had information he needed, for historians and archivists in Germany who had information he needed, and he is pursuing those avenues and getting the information that he needs. I am amazed at how much he is finding out and how quickly he is finding it, but it goes to show how a little patience, persistance, and hard work can pay off in such exciting ways.

So thank you and mad props to Tom M. and all you other newbies and pros out there doing genealogy right, setting the good example for us all and future generations, and keeping me inspired. And a quick thank you to Tom, too, for breaking down one of MY brick walls today, on a branch of my tree that we don't share, John Meinberg, who unlike his wife Catherine Neher, has been an impossible nut to crack, and which I'll talk about in another post, hopefully this week.

Happy spring everyone!

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