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Show me your documents

          Documentation is the skeleton upon which all good genealogy should be based.  There are many models to follow but for most of us we document what our genealogy programs dictate.  The base program I work with, RootsMagic has fields for dates, places, sources, notes….  I can sometimes become compulsive making sure I have all the fields completed with at least two documents.  In my opinion RootsMagic it is a document based program, and that is just fine with me.  All too often while doing research on the internet I will find someone’s genealogy which matches mine, how exciting!  Until I begin to dig further and look for the source of their information.  More often than not, the source is another researcher’s gedcom file.  This file has been sourced by yet another gedcom, and so on and so on.  Just because everyone has listed the same date of birth for person X does not make it so.  Too often we are just repeating the same research over and over without ever looking for the source.   Did the information come from a cemetery index (often transcribed incorrectly), an obituary, death certificate, family bible?   How do you know?  Because other family member lists the information as fact is not good enough.   Other researcher’s information can be good starting place, but there must be documents to back up the data.  Does this slow down the pace of research?  Yes, and it may ultimately limit the number of persons in your gedcom or how far back in history you can trace.  However, for the sake of those who come after us it must be done.  In our rush to find ancestors we may run right by the most interesting aspects of their lives.  I prefer the slow, document based approach.  As you look through my data, know every attempt has been made to include multiple sources for the information.  Occasionally, I will site another researcher, this is only done when their data includes primary and secondary sources I can view and obtain if needed.  Many times viewers will ask why I have not included “well known facts” about a family.   The omission of data is because I am still looking for the documentation.  If you have documents please share them with the rest of the genealogy community!  Obtaining documentation can be expensive and time consuming.   If you don’t want to build a website then scan and upload your documents to any of the free sites on the web or send it to the appropriate county coordinator at http://usgenweb.org/.  My intention is not to disregard or belittle anyone’s research but to be upfront with you about my feelings on genealogy and how I approach obtaining information.  I feel the fun of genealogy is in the hunt not the collecting people.   


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