Saturday, March 14, 2009

Irish Genealogy Night - Part II

Mike More, Chairman of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogy Society, told us about the society, the area it covers, and its projects. He then gave a talk on what he perceives are the Eight Golden Rules of Genealogy.

1. Work Backwards

I think we all know this by now, but there are still some who try to circumvent the process and try to work from the past to the present.

People have been researching genealogy since the 1800s, and over 200 years of research has told us something - that if we want success - we have to start with ourselves.

2. Never Assume

Always check for facts. If it is down on a piece of paper that your great-grandmother was born on a certain date, you can never assume it is the right date - you must check the birth or baptismal certificates to see if it is correct.

3. Spelling of Names

Never completely trust the spelling of first and last names.

There have all been variants in the spelling, and if your ancestor spelled the surname SMITH one way and the Canadian census taker spelling it SMYTH - then you have a problem, unless you know that the names can be spelled differently.

Fortunately these days, there are programs with SOUNDEX capabilities to help you with surnames.

4. Search for Information to Confirm a Fact

Always try to find three pieces of information that confirm the fact that you have in front of you.

Everything is only speculation until it is confirmed.

5. Write Everything Down

Cite your sources!

Information closer to the date the event happened is usually more correct than information that is later recorded.

For example, birth information would be more correct close to the birth than information recorded 20 years after the birth.

6. Join a Genealogical Organization

When you join a group, it gives you a sense of belonging. You will be with people who have the same interest as yourself, and you can ask them questions about their experiences with genealogical problems.

7. Do Your Homework for a Trip

Remember to put down the five questions to be answered - why, where, when, who, and what. Once done, go to the local library, archives, or churches, for instance, to look for the answers.

8. Share Your Information

Publish your family history either on the Internet, e-books, GEDCOM, scrapbooks, or photo albums, for example. Just publish it.

And if I can add my own piece of advice - do not forget to put a copy in the local archives so that when it comes time for someone else to add to your genealogy, a copy of your work will be waiting for them.