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SylviaInCanada Report 23 Sep 2010 18:37

The following was in my monthly newsletter from fmpaustralia, and I think it good to remind everyone of the Golden Rules of genealogy. It is copied verbatim.

1. You should always work backwards from yourself to your unknown ancestors - if you don't do this you may find that you end up researching the wrong family because you have assumed a relationship which doesn't exist.

2. Remember that not everything on a birth, death or marriage certificate may be the truth - certificates are only the details informants gave and they may not have known the correct information. For example, one of my great grandfathers was illegitimate and he had listed his own grandparents on his wedding certificate, not his mother which confused me until I obtained his birth certificate which revealed the illegitimacy.

3. You need to remember that the spelling of place names, given names and surnames will have varied over time as not everyone could read and write. European names, for example, may have been Anglicised to make them easier to use.

4. This rule follows on from the third in that you need to check all spelling variants when looking up indexes or researching other resources. For example, one of my families is Johnston but I have found it also spelt Johnson and Johnstone which means I search all three variants every time I look something up on that family.

5. This supplements the previous rules in that you should always have at least two, preferably three, separate sources of proof for each event so that you can work out what is the correct information.

6. Remember that everything is only speculation until you have verified it with at least two separate pieces of information. You should clearly show what is speculation and not yet proved, so that others are not misled by your research.

7. It is a good idea to photocopy onto archival paper all original certificates and other important documents so that you have a back up copy stored elsewhere in the event of an accident or disaster. Many researchers automatically back up their genealogy software but neglect, or forget, about doing paper backups as well.

8. If a document exists, read it. This might sound obvious, but it is surprising what people can miss when looking at documents. Every word should be examined and things like witnesses to marriages, wills, beneficiaries, references to land holdings or other clues are often overlooked. I find it useful to do timelines and plot events and places so that I know who is where and when. Sometimes it is worth rereading a document as new knowledge may make it more meaningful or new resources have become available for research.

9. Join at least one genealogical or family history group either near where you live or where your ancestors lived. To me this should almost be the first rule because there are so many advantages to being part of a society and sharing knowledge and resources. Over the years, I have been a member of many different societies both in Australia and overseas and even now, after 33 years of doing family history research, I am still a member of four societies and have informal connections with many others.

10. The final rule is to share your information and copies of documents with others researching the same families or locations. It is reasonable to ask for any copying expenses to be paid or there may be an exchange of information on both sides. Most people are happy to share when they find other family members, even long distant cousins.



Tracey Report 23 Sep 2010 21:19

Thanks for sharing this is certainly useful especially for newbies.



SylviaInCanada Report 23 Sep 2010 21:41

............. and sometimes we "older" researchers who get excited and forget to double check!



Cynthia Report 24 Sep 2010 11:22

Nudged for Karen.

Will recommend this to those who tell me they are confused!!!

:) Cx


Cynthia Report 25 Sep 2010 19:16

nudge to help others.


SylviaInCanada Report 25 Sep 2010 21:59

Hi Elaine

I promise that I will not delete it

and hope that it stays near the top of the thread



Ozibird Report 25 Sep 2010 22:14

I agree about joining a family history society. They are really helpful, and their newsletters are interesting too. So many articles about the times and lifestyles (or lack of them) of your ancestors.



maggiewinchester Report 25 Sep 2010 23:18

Darn it! I broke rule number one.
I only got 'in to' genealogy because of a copy of a newspaper report of a death in 1842, that my gran had!
I had to initially work backwards from that to see if he was a relation!
Oh - and to confuse matters, he had daughters, so he didn't have a current family name.

...and all before the internet!


SylviaInCanada Report 26 Sep 2010 00:11

lol! maggie


Christine Report 30 Sep 2010 11:29

I would love to be able to find two or three separate sources of information, but most of the time I am grasping to find one!


Cynthia Report 1 Oct 2010 13:59



SylviaInCanada Report 1 Oct 2010 20:56



Mariian Report 2 Oct 2010 22:51

I would also add that we do all have to be so careful as we research families
Often the very thing we need to clinch or verify the relationships in the family are the hardest Every new generation years ago comprised a great many children, each being named after older family members I am stuck myself and am so dissappointed because I would like to resolve one portion of my tree I would like to say how nice it is to have so many members willing to help those who need help help I speak from my own experience..Far from well and pretty much a This past time has provided me with such a lot
of joy and comeraderie...We all belong to such a lovely family club,I for one would never be able to function well, were it not for the friends available..
Apart from that I am regularly in touch with family I have never known and this makes my life richer Thank you for your help Marian Camsey(Hunt)


SylviaInCanada Report 4 Oct 2010 00:52


you are very welcome

This really is a community, isn't it?