Q for Questions

20 April 2016

All day, every day …. questions…. so many questions…. Who was the father of X? And was the mother, Y or Z? How can we be certain that A was related to B and not C? Like many people who are deep in family history, looking back at my research in my formative years, I cringe. Photocopies/photographs of records with no sources noted, marriage certificates lovingly copied for my surname study but now, I have no idea where that marriage took place as I did not record the location on the reverse side of the document….

So many photographs passed down from one generation to the next, with no names recorded to identify the people pictured. Certificates stored in unsuitable ways, letters kept in far from the best conditions…. oh, how we wish we could turn back time! But when we started out, did we ask those questions? How is it best to store these documents? What is the best way to keep research notes/cite sources? When you first start out, you do what you think is right, or what someone else tells you is right…. if you ask the right questions.

As MD of FWL, I often come across , to the team, as the ‘continual questioner‘…. How can you be sure that….? Why do you think that….? Can you prove your conclusion to me or someone else on the team? We have to be 100% accurate in our work. Nothing less is acceptable.

When you carry out family/local history research, how do you ensure that your conclusions are correct? Do you have a certain number of sources which must tie up in order to corroborate your theory and make it an accepted fact? How many trees have you come across where the alleged facts are nothing more than fiction? Public trees on Ancestry, My Heritage, etc…. you’ve all seen them!

Our advice: question everything, several times over. Don’t accept anything as fact until you can prove it, several times over. Join me as the ‘continual questioner’….! I wish I’d started years earlier!

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