Monday, December 3, 2012

Little green leaves: hints

I recently renewed my subscription, yet again. Now that I lost my job, I really can't afford it for any more than a month at a time, but now that you can buy more than one DNA test, the discount given to members is worth it. I hope. I really want to know my fiance's DNA results, especially now that we're expecting our daughter!

Anyway, every time I check in on my tree, I have, as I'm sure you do, those little green leaves suggesting hints. In a way, I love seeing those leaves - Ancestry is always adding more records and I always have the hope that some new record will either shed new light on my family history or validate information I'm pretty sure about but don't necessarily have proof for. Every now and then, Ancestry comes through but more often than not, that green leaf is a frustrating dead end. Not that it doesn't pertain to the person it's attached to. For the most part, Ancestry does a good job of matching up appropriate records with the appropriate person (although not always). Unfortunately, a lot of those hints are not for primary records. Primary records are SOOO vital to genealogy - actual firsthand records or at least images of those firsthand records. I even slack a little and accept secondary sources when I just can't find a primary source - such as German OFBs, family history books that are transcriptions of primary sources. Sometimes that's all you have and while you can assume its fairly reliable, you still have to take it with a grain of salt.

But a lot of Ancestry hints are for other members' family trees. This is both frustrating and exciting. It's exciting because it provides you with potential family connections and so so SO many times those newly discovered distant relatives, people I never knew about and have never met, have provided me with the primary and/or secondary sources vital to verifying or adding to my family tree. But too many of these Ancestry trees are people who have copied their info from other trees they found on the Internet and are unsourced, unsourced, unsourced! Or they are sourced, and their source is another unsourced family tree. It makes me want to knock my head against the wall.

Anyway, this is not new info - I'm sure this is a source of frustration but also connection for all of us. It's just been on my mind. I'm using this time as an Ancestry member to save as much of my sources to my hard drive as possible, since I can't view them when I let my membership expire. It's tedious work, especially trying to record all the citations as well, but it has to be done and I might as well do it while I have the time.

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