Sunday, February 2, 2014

What I wish I knew then

Someone on The Organized Genealogist Facebook Group said that they were putting together a symposium presentation on what seasoned genealogist wished they had known when they first started out.  I thought that would be a great subject for a blog post.  I am going to give you my personal top ten list (not in any particular order).

  • Sourcing EVERY fact.
  • Keeping a research log.
  • Keeping a correspondence log.
  • Recording negative searches (part of the research log).  I have looked at the same book twice many times.
  • Scanning/transcribing/evaluating each piece of evidence as soon as it comes in instead of letting stuff pile up.
  • Keeping everything organized.  Having a consistent system so that you can find anything that you need to lay you hands on in a matter of seconds.
  • Backing up data files frequently (I lost a lot of data once).
  • Taking advantage of continuing education opportunities.
  • Networking with other genealogists/joining genealogical societies.
  • Interview relatives before it is too late.

Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments for others to read.

Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. "what seasoned genealogist wished they had known when they first started out"?

    An abstract or index may have more than one mistake as well as mistakes of different kinds. And it could be a 3rd-generation version of something previously published. Each recopying has its own opportunity for omissions and more errors! So track down the original source and view it with no preconceptions.

  2. As. 5 year newbie I would put that when someone comments on your blog to make sure and write back. Also I would put don be nice to everyone you chat with...some people talk down to a newbie and that is a big turn off. are not like any of the above and always have a kind word to say...

    1. Thanks so much, Lisa, for your very kind comments :) :)

    2. Lisa, I don't know why people like to talk down to "newbies"... but it is so rude! Though, if it's any consolation, these same rude people don't talk nice to anyone! After 20+ years of genealogy, I'm far from new... though far from an expert... but I've still left a couple of "groups/lists" because of a couple of people who are so condescending & rude. I think the anonymity of the 'net empowers people to be rude, or causes them to not always see the real person behind the post! The rest of us just need to lead by example! :)

  3. I would agree with every single thing on your list! And include adding the information to a computer database as you get each item instead of letting it pile up.

  4. Michele,

    I want you to know that your blog post is listed in my Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  5. Great list Michele! I think of all the items you mentioned, the last one is the most important! We can always go back & "redo" most of the other things...but interviewing/spending time with relatives is something that when the time is gone, it is gone.
    In fact, this is one of my "Genealogy Resolutions" for 2014! Even after 20 years I still have folks I should talk to or maintain a relationship with. Ironically, I just posted the final of my "resolution" series yesterday-- about living breathing relatives- In case you want to have a looksee!
    I enjoyed your blog, very happy Jana mentioned it! :) Happy Hunting~