Family genealogy tree research is difficult enough without all these myths flying around trying to make it even more difficult for you. If you have decided to carry out research on finding ancestors you will likely come across some websites, or even individuals you speak to, that offer you false information that might discourage you.
Don’t believe everything you read or are told about researching your family genealogy tree because while there are some roadblocks in your way, none of them are insurmountable unless you have been extremely unlucky. In saying that, tracing your ancestors, which is given the Sunday name of genealogy, can be difficult and require a great deal of family tree research, but none of the problems you come across are insurmountable and you should eventually be able to get pretty far back – how far back being determined:
a) by how far back online records go, and
b) by how far you are prepared to travel to access written records.
While family genealogy tree research into your family ancestry is not impossible, it may also not be a simple task. That bursts two popular myths in genealogy research: that it is too difficult and also that it is easy. In fact, it is neither difficult nor easy: you can carry out genealogy research if you have the will to do so and are not easily dissuaded by setbacks. There may be many setbacks, but they are not unbreakable roadblocks.
Major problems when researching your genealogy
There are some situations where you may come across apparently insurmountable problems, but only if you are very unfortunate. The two major problems might be:
1. All records were destroyed, such as during the dissolution of the monasteries and destruction of parish churches along with their records. Some local authorities were more active than others in this respect, particularly during the disparate times of Henry VIII and the English Civil War.
2. During certain periods in history, such as Mau Zedong’s China. Family genealogy records were deliberately destroyed to break with the past, and many civilizations had no record at all. Examples include certain indigenous civilizations of South America, Africa and Asia.
In such cases it might be possible only to track back as far as the last record, and no further. Some civilizations passed genealogy information down the generations by word of mouth, but this type of information is generally unreliable.
Another myth is tracking surnames: if you check out as many families as possible with your surname, then you are bound to come across your own ancestors. This is not true, unless you find people with your name in a specific geographical location from which you know your own ancestors originated. Otherwise that is just shooting in the dark.
You may find some legendary tales about your family, such as great uncle so-and-so gained this award and great-great-grandfather Livingston spent most of his life exploring in Africa. However, when you take the time to investigate you find it is different people, and that you have just spent a few weeks chasing shadows generated by mythical legendary claims for your family. This is not unusual, and everybody with ancestors with names such as Livingston, Nelson and Faraday like to believe they are related – so much so that become related! This is just another of the popular myths in family genealogy tree research.
Tracing ancestry : Belief in records
One of the major popular myths in genealogy research is that the records you come across will be accurate. In fact, there are numbers of reasons for such records to be false, or at least lack proper accuracy. For example, during the Middle Ages to the Victorian era, registration of births or baptisms was carried out verbally. You would tell your parish priest or other official who the father was, and that would be written down.
When people died, particularly during the Black Death and Great Plague, no proof of death was necessary. Records were very inaccurate, and many baptisms and deaths were never recorded: births were not recorded by law in many countries until fairly recently, and it even in 1837 when the registration of a birth, marriage or death started, there was no penalty for failing to do so.
Genealogy research: Online is Best
Finally, while many people can get so far with their genealogy research online, and believe it to be the best way to trace their ancestors, it is often necessary to carry out research local to where your forebears used to live. Most early records are not computerized, but what can be said with a safe degree of accuracy is that online genealogy research tends to be more accurate than word-of-mouth information because it is based upon records made at the time – even though these might be scarce and not always accurate.
If you are trying to trace the history or family tree of your extended family, then an online search will help you. Another technique available is ancestry DNA testing that often provides useful information as to the accuracy or otherwise of your family genealogy tree research. This form of DNA testing can frequently confirm or deny the information you have discovered: assuming samples are available for testing.
Try to ignore the myths, and by using a combination of physical searching, online records and DNA testing where appropriate, you should have at least some degree of success in your family genealogy tree research.