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Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesGenealogy · 10 years ago

what is efficient method to trace family history?

4 Answers

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    There isn't any. Genealogy is like fly fishing. Some "casts" bring you a 14-pound rainbow trout, some don't. You poke around, you try things.

    Take the census. You find John Westley Pack and his loving wife Mary Margaret used "Westley John" and "Margaret M' in 1910, the enumerator spelled it "Peck" and the transcriber thought it was "Pech". Also Mary Margaret fudged her age by 5 years consistently because she was 3 years older than he, which was considered cradle robbing before 1960 or so.

    You can, if you wish, go to a fishmonger and buy 10 pounds of fillet; if you can afford $50 an hour for 40 - 400 hours, a professional genealogist will track your ancestors for you quicker than you can - he or she will have done this before, hundreds of times - while you do something else.



    I once took a class in Biology of the Sierra Nevada. During a lecture about the fish who live in its lakes and streams, our professor told us that only 3% of all hatchery trout live for more than a year after they are released into the wild. Fisherman catch some; bears, raccoons, otters, martins, eagles and ospreys eat others, and the rest don't have the survival instincts of their native cousins, so they die during the winter. He added that the trout stamps we Californians buy for our fishing licenses pay for the entire hatchery and planting program; indeed, that particular division of the Fish and Wildlife Department usually returns a slight surplus. I raised my hand and asked, why, if that was the case, didn't they just sell the trout by the pound at the hatchery gate, to streamline the process?

    There was a pause. The professor looked at me as if I had interrupted a discussion of last year's World Series to ask why grown men would want to hit small white balls with wooden clubs. "That would take the sport out of it", he said, curtly.


    Sports and hobbies are not efficient; if they were they would not be fun.

    The resolved questions have about 3,000 answers to "How can I find my family tree, for FREE?", if you are interested in taking up an inefficient sport.

  • 10 years ago

    In the shortest possible summary...

    USING DOCUMENTS. An online family tree, posted by someone, is not a document. It is a summary of what they think, and often can contain errors.

    Your grandparents death certificate is an example of one document. When death certificates were not required, an obituary is another form, also a tombstone. A court record (will, probate) is another.

    EVERY ancestor will be different. What is available for one person, in one location, in a certain year, will be useless for another. The "game" is to figure out what works (and is reliable) for each ancestor or relative.

    The internet is a great way to get to many types of information. It won't all be free, nor should you expect that. That isn't saying that there are NOT free sites..there are thousands. And, all genealogy will NOT BE ONLINE. For those who want accuracy and solving all the puzzles, they will be willing to go the extra mile.

    Good research takes time and effort.

  • Maxi
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    There are many methods of researching...the end goal is that your tree is real and includes your ancestors which you can prove via cited records.

    This used to mean visiting local records offices and looking through film, fiche and parish wills, newspapers, directories etc etc which was slow as you would need to visit records centres in the area you were researching and cross referencing those records to make sure...or visiting the national Archives where many local records were in one place.......... you needed lots of spare time so it was a hobby for most once retired.....some people used the IGI to gather information quickly then check back with the real records to prove the IGI right or as was more likely wrong as it is full of copies of parish records, donated and collected information all mixed together and should ONLY be used as a clue...some thought it was OK to build a tree using the IGI only and if y are only interested in collecting names and are not concerned if you have your ancestors or just a collection of unrelated names that is what you get......................then..........

    the internet came and started to open the World of Family research to computer genealogy, and along came the business people who saw they could make money and 'market' a product by putting FH into peoples homes which opened up FH to most people and enabled people to look for ancestors accross the world.............however because the new 'FH researchers' have not known any other way many think it is the way to research, they are not sure what are records and what is collections, donated information, they rely on indexes and transcribed databases, IGI and the dreaded family trees online to build what they think is 'their family trees' without checking out or learning about records, citing there are lots of people out there who think they have THEIR family tree but haven't.

    For the 'old' FH researcher the internet has made it very easy, they know and use good research methods, use the internet as clues where to look, then visit records offices or download scanned copies of the record they are looking for as they have the cite number from the National Archives, so saving lots of time, travel etc...the message boards online, forums etc have made the FH world smaller so you can easily contact others researching your family, but it can be a mixed.. blessing........

  • 10 years ago

    Wendy gave you a good answer, but I suggest that you go to Familysearch,com and check research tips there is a basic research video there. You could check out About Genealogy, they have an article called Genealogy 101 that is about basic research methods.

    I could give you a somewhat step by step procedure and for every one I gave you there would be exceptions, or additions and web sites that I have found helpful and ones I don't use. It would end up being pages long and still not be the same as others do their research.

    Source(s): Genealogical researcher 35+ yeas
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