People from many different levels are researching their ancestors, and everyone is striving to learn about techniques and resources at their disposal. Everyone has started a different way learning as they go. If you have been involved for any length of time, you are probably aware of the topics that can get people a little hot under the collar. Views expressed can be taken offensively without either party meaning for that to happen. People who do not understand become offended when someone points out an error or shares tips about technology, records, or best practices. Below are three challenges that everyone has seen.
Basing research on family trees without sources
Online family trees are the most popular accessed resources that people use in genealogy research today. That might make you cringe when you consider the fact that most trees are unsourced. Often unseasoned researchers copy information from an existing tree or create records with no proof as to how they are related to the individuals they add. So what does a source consist of exactly? A source is made up of the following:
citation: a reference to specific information, or evidence about a fact or event in your tree—it should help other researchers retrace your steps to find the same information you found.
Example: Year: 1930; Census Place: Idaho, Gooding County, Wendell Precinct; NARA publication: T626; Roll: 399; Sheet: 7A; Enumeration District: 24-8; Digital Image: 1062.0.
source: Source: the document, index, book, person, or other material (including its corresponding publication information) in which you found the information related to a fact or event in your tree.
Example: 1930 United States Federal Census, published online by Ancestry, 2002, Provo, Utah, USA; Index by Ancestry from microfilmed schedules of the 1930 U.S. Federal Decennial Census. Data imaged from national Archives and Records Administration, T626, 2,2667 rolls, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
repository: the library or other location where the source was found.
Example: New York Public Library or Ancestry, etc.” See Support Center document: Sources in Ancestry Member Trees.
Using other people’s photos without permission
Another point of contention occurs as people download photos and share them online or in their own publications without the permission of the owner. This leaves resentful feelings.
You should be aware of the copyright policy of the website you are using. Ancestry.com’s copyright policy says: Content which has been contributed to public area of the Ancestry Operations, Inc. sites by users remain the property of the submitter or the original creator and we are a licensed distributor of such content. See “What is your copyright policy?”
FamilySearch.org’s copyright guidelines include: We are sensitive to the copyright and other intellectual property rights of others. Be aware that content, including photographs, stories, and personal experiences, even if submitted to a site to which you belong, remains the property of the creator or submitter. You should not reproduce it without permission of the owner. No one should ever let their zeal for research cross over the line to stealing another person’s photos and passing them off as their own.
Newcomer vs veteran researcher experience
Sometimes it is difficult for those who did the painstaking research that was required long ago to make the transition in helping today’s new family historian who has grown acquainted with available resources and technology allowing for quicker success in finding documentation. It takes newcomers a little longer to appreciate the challenge of once having to travel far away to the place records were held. Many have no idea that at one time you had to order microfilm and wait a couple of weeks to view it.
The newbie’s enthusiasm for the swiftness of finding records online is contagious while at the same time, the seasoned veteran has the ability to instinctively know where to look when the answer cannot be found online. Hopefully, everyone can learn advanced research skills from the veterans while feeling the thrill of evolving technology felt by those starting fresh. If you are new to genealogy, try these great first steps: New to Genealogy – Beginners First Step.