How to Analyse Your Genealogy Research
You’ve done the leg work and recovered a lot of information, now what? We can help you understand your genealogy research.
Discovering history on a personal scale
Genealogy, put simply, is the study of your unique family history; a personal record of your ancestors, where you can find out who they were, what they did and how you fit into an extended family tree. Genealogy and the act of researching it means many different things to many different people, but there are some common threads as to why people begin digging into their family's past.
You may want to validate family stories or trace medical conditions. You might want to see if there are any famous people in your history, or to research potential inheritance or land ownership. Maybe it is to find birth parents or to reconnect with forgotten family members, or it may be part of a scholarly historical study. Whatever the reason, genealogy research can be pain staking as well as rewarding, and analysis of what you do find can be both enlightening and fulfilling.
Keep it in the Family
The best place to start, funnily enough, is with asking your own family before diving into the sometimes-overwhelming genealogy world on the internet. Someone else might have already done some digging, and you might be able to source some original documentation relevant to your research; death and marriage certificates perhaps, or land registry details.
Keep a research log
Write and take notes as you research so the information is not forgotten. Also use this to keep details of sources and references, should you need to come back to them.
Make a timeline
Either for an individual or for a family. This helps to spot any errors in continuity, making sure, for example, that you don't have a record of a daughter being married before she was born. Add details to your timeline; this helps put findings in perspective.
Think Source Material
Consider the source as you analyse it, and think about how and why errors might occur. It is OK to ask people how and where they got their information - and likewise you should share your sources too - but this will help you to consider the relevance and likelihood of the information.
Share your research and get talking about it!
Sometimes speaking to others about your findings will help you see things you never thought about before. You can join online genealogy communities and forums, or publish your findings on family history blogs.
Think about it and step back
It is important not to just source the records and information, but to also understand it. Think about what you have learned and how it relates to the other information that you have. What does the information really tell you? Is it new to you and does it contradict information that you already have about your family history?
Knowing your roots and solving the puzzle of where you come from can be a very rewarding experience. But unfolding personal history also contributes to the history of all people, allowing us to fully study the history of our culture, as well as discovering that you are a descendent of Genghis Khan.