Confessions from a Family Historian (What I Should Have Done Right from the Beginning)



Hindsight is 20/20 in most things in life, and genealogy research is no exception. I’ve been doing genealogy research for 20 years and have reached the level of knowledge where I now consider myself a good genealogist (though, make no mistake, even good genealogists still have things to learn, and we discover new things in genealogy all the time). I’m proud of the research I’ve done and continue to do, for myself and others. Yet, there are so many things from my early work I could have done differently if I’d known better then…. things which would make my genealogy research even more rich, detailed, and rewarding today. My family tree would be more solid and more like the historical narrative I now aim for it to be.
We all make mistakes when we’re beginning with something, before we’ve truly learned the craft. It’s true for anything you learn. However, if I can help some beginning genealogists avoid some of the early mistakes I made when I was learning the basics of this wonderful hobby, I am happy to do so. Here are some things I would have done differently when I began with genealogy if I’d known better. Maybe, by learning from my mistakes, you can get a better start on your family tree and turn it into something wonderful much sooner than I did...