Do You Follow These “Rules” of Genealogy Research?

Now Reading
Do You Follow These “Rules” of Genealogy Research?

Well, rules might be a bit strict, but we do have some pretty tight guidelines that we like to follow when we’re doing genealogy research. We promise we use them most of the time.

You likely have your own set of rules and we’d love to hear them. What would you add to this list?

Want to keep this list handy or share it with others? Download an infographic at the bottom of this page.

12 Genealogy Research Rules

1.  Always Cite Your Sources. Always.

2.  Never, Ever Assume Another Researcher’s Information is 100% Correct

3.  Remember That Every Name Has Variations, Check Them All

Advertisement

4.  Never Copy Another Person’s Public Tree, Use it Only as a Helpful Aid

5.  Share Freely With Others and They Will Share With You

6.  Don’t Trust Your Assumptions, Only Sources

7.  Check and Double Check Your Facts Before Recording or Sharing

8.  Take a Second Look at Records, Your Answer May Be Right in Front of You

9.  Don’t Limit Yourself to Only One or Two Research Sites, Look for Options

Make Instant Discoveries in Your Family Tree Now
Imagine adding your family tree to a simple website and getting hundreds of new family history discoveries instantly.

MyHeritage is offering 2 free weeks of access to their extensive collection of 7.7 billion historical records, as well as their matching technology that instantly connects you with new information about your ancestors. Sign up using the link below to find out what you can uncover about your family.

10. Go Offline or Order Hard Copies to Expand Your Research

11. Back Up Your Files Monthly, Keep at Least Two Copies of Your Research

12. Never Give Up: you may not find what you’re looking for but the journey is always worth the effort

Genealogy Rules

Image: Preparation for point rationing. 1943. Library of Congress

Get Family History Daily's Articles by Email Each Week
Stay up to date on our newest articles by subscribing to our free weekly newsletter.
Search 7.7 Billion Records Now
What might you discover with access to billions of new genealogy records?

MyHeritage is offering 2 full weeks of free access so you can search for your ancestors - including instant record matches when you upload your family tree.
15 Comments
Leave a response
  • November 23, 2016 at 8:12 am

    Lateral relatives (sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) will almost always lead to break-throughs in your direct line, if you accumulate enough information and wait long enough, so don’t skip over them in your research – especially the childless ones, who often cared for nieces and nephews and left detailed wills….

  • C. Zarr
    April 15, 2016 at 7:05 am

    Agree with Debra Peters. Soc. Sec. Death Index has my mother’s birth month and year correct; however, the day is incorrect.

  • Bonnie Ward
    December 7, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    What is the proper way to list living persons? Thank you.

    • Debra Peters
      December 7, 2015 at 5:59 pm

      All you can do is give the birth date and if the program requires it, mark them as living. Nothing else to be done.

  • October 16, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    On the topic of not assuming another researcher’s information is correct, I would add that it is important to remember that census takers and indexers of official databases are also “researchers”. However, as they don’t have intimate familiarity with their subjects, they will frequently make serious errors in spelling or transcription. I cannot count the number of misspelled names of people or places I have seen in “official” documents like censuses and Ellis Island records/transcriptions. I try to report transcription errors whenever I see them.

  • Donna Kelley
    October 2, 2015 at 6:59 am

    I love the list of rules, especially #2 (never , ever assume another researcher’s information is 100% correct). I had a relative send me a tree about our grand father’s family. She had a different person for my gg grandfather than I did. She said she found the information on a genealogy website. I had previously gone to my nearby FHL and viewed the parish registers (and made copies of them). I then sent my findings to my relative. Plus, I always cite my sources. That is important if there are discrepancies in the information.

  • September 17, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Great list! I will take it one step further – Always cite your sources and photocopy/scan them (if not from an electronic source). You never know when you might need to go back and review the relevant pages from a source again. And if it was a pain to get the first time, imagine how annoyed you will be while you await that interlibrary loan! I’ve found this one out the hard way… I also agree with the “never give up.” New sources are added to online databases every day and I recently found a Slovakian birth record for my great-grandfather that wasn’t available when I originally searched several years ago.

  • Patty L Hurley
    September 7, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    This info is Great thank you

  • Carmel Reynen
    September 2, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    do not dismiss family stories there is often some truth in them but you need to prove it either way.

  • Terry Bronnimann
    August 27, 2015 at 7:00 am

    Great rules!!

  • Debbie Rice
    August 26, 2015 at 6:29 am

    This comment is directed to Sandy Shafer Guest.
    The Pennsylvania Dutch are not Dutch as in from the Netherlands/Hollad, they are German as in Deutschland. I had always thought Dutch meant from the Neathetlands/Holland and then I found an article on the subject. I was surprised but after reading it made sense.

  • Sharon Reid
    August 26, 2015 at 5:47 am

    NEVER trust one source. My great grandmother is listed as married to her husband’s brother. We tried to get it fixed but the museum wouldn’t do anything. I was very surprised as I have sent notes about mistakes to the provincial archives of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and the latter not even my family, and they at least put a note beside item stating what the problem might be with that item.

  • Debra Peters
    August 24, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    You can’t always trust sources. My mother’s death date is wrong on the US Social Security Death Index…..

  • Thelma Divers
    July 31, 2015 at 11:27 am

    Unable to get on site, .Gave the only e-mail address that i have ever had. And the only pass word. Very disappointed.

  • June 19, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    Thank you for allowing me to join Family History Daily. I am hoping to find ANY INFORMATION on my Dad’s side of the family. I am looking for information on FAMILY TREES that include CARL L. SHAFER / NELLIE M. EARNHART, PAUL E. SHAFER / IDA (née ?) SHAFER, OR Carl & Paul’s FATHER: CHARLES F. SHAFER / ESTELLA V. SENSENBAUGH.. ESTELLA was the daughter of JOSEPH SENSENBACH / ANNE SYBIL MILLER. MOST ALL OF MY SHAFER SIDE OF THE FAMILY IS DECEASED, so I REALLY NEED YOUR HELP!! All of the records that I have been able to find indicate that everyone was born in PENNSYLVANIA, with the exception of Joseph SENSENBACH, who was born in Germany. I was told my whole life that we were PENNSYLVANIA Dutch. AGAIN, ANY HELP WOULD BE APPRECIATED!! Thanks!!

Leave a Response