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The Cautionary Tales of Genealogy Research!



I know you are eager to start your Genealogy research but there are things you really need to make sure you are aware of when doing research, here are a few:


1. BECAREFUL when you are on the tree building web platforms such as Ancestry and FamilySearch, when it comes to other people’s trees. Use other people's trees as clues for YOU to research BUT don’t attach the information to your tree. It is tempting I know because you see that other people have the same information, so it must mean the information is correct, right? NO! It is possible for that many people to have the wrong information. So, if you do not see an actual document corroborating what the person has for information, DO NOT ATTACH! Instead, research on it and if you can’t find the information then put it to the side but do not officially add to your tree.


2. History research is a must in Genealogy, we, through no fault of our own think and judge life based on what the world is today. History research can help us understand life from our ancestors’ perspectives. History research can also help us fill in the gaps for those ancestors that documents may not be found for.


3. When available always read the documents, many times the preliminary transcriptions that appear in the web-based platforms there are many spelling errors. Or even have grandparents listed as the parents, if you suspect that it can be your ancestor open the document and read it.


4. In Hispanic Genealogy is important to identity great aunts and uncles and their children, because of the tendency of some of the civil and church records containing grandparent information.


5. Understand the Spanish last name system but do not be rigid, because there were life circumstances in which sometimes our families did not follow it. For example, when children were born to parents that were not married, which happened very often. Also, if we are lucky and we go into the early 1700s and even earlier, the last name system worked very differently, it was based a lot of social status.


6. Learn the different terms for the Spanish caste system, these terms can help us especially when we are in search of our indigenous and African ancestors. But it can also give us clues as to where our ancestors come from, for example: Bozal (person born in Africa not in the colonies), Isleño (person born in the Canary Islands), Peninsular (person born in Spain).


7. If you are not 100% sure about an ancestor, don’t attach to the tree.


8. Always start from the most recent and go up from there.


9. Keep an open mind and open heart when you do research, because we may have an idea of what we think we should find. But we are researching human lives and not always the information that has come down throughout the generation is completely correct. This was a time where speaking about the hard things was basically nonexistent so do not be surprised to find out information that you did not know even of some of the relatives you know today.


10. Allow yourself to feel what comes up, it is okay and if you need to walk away and come back later, allow yourself that space.



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