Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Past Is Such A Curious Creature

To look her in the Face
A Transport may receipt us
Or a Disgrace —

Emily Dickinson (1830–1886)

I have been busy at for the last couple of days and have found this searching family roots thing is more complected that I thought it would be. The biggest problem with using is the "garbage in, garbage out" part of it. When you start building your family tree the site will automatically connect you to information provided by other members family trees. I had the pleasure of watching a long line of ancestors reaching back to the 1700's being added to one line of my tree on Monday.

Now, has access to millions of records (called sources) that you can link to (creating a paper trail of records). showing that the ancestry links you have created are valid. This is good because when you have branches of your family tree magically appearing based on family links created by other people it is good to check their work.

These new names sometimes have a small green leave next to them called "Ancestry hints" and clicking on one takes you to a page that list records and/or a link to another page which shows profile boxes containing all the information other families have collected about person you are checking on. After determining that the person you have on your tree is the same as the person in the other profile boxes you can merge their information into your tree. I have learned to only merge boxes that have sources listed because unsourced family trees usually have one or two bits of information that do not match the other family trees. Not have sources leaves you with no way to validate this information.

As I wrote above, on Monday I had a new line of relatives to check out and spent the day linking to records and merging other members family information into my tree. This is time consuming and while I was methodically connecting the relationship dots I had a nagging suspicion that I was missing something. I went back to the person whose name first linked me to this extended line and realized that this supposed father of my true relative was born almost a hundred years after him. I deleted the name and watched as my "not connected to me" family line disappeared.

Lessons Learned: Pay more attention to the birth/death dates and be less trusting of the connections made by other members.

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