Methodology

Five good reasons not to limit your research to your direct line

Family history research is a huge undertaking, so it is not surprising that some people decide to make it more manageable by focusing only on their direct line. Here are five good reasons why this is not a good strategy.

1.

All sources can contain errors – even original sources and official documents. The most frequent causes of errors are when the informant provides incorrect information or does not have sufficient information, or when the person recording the information mishears or misunderstands the information provided. Limiting your research to your direct line means you are less likely to be using sources which are independent of each other and this means errors are less likely to be picked up.

2.

Sources are often incomplete and lacking some information. The more sources you look at, the greater the chance of filling the gaps.

3.

Let’s face it, some people are more interesting or famous than others. These ones tend to have more written about them and the information provided can shed light on the whole family, not just the individual concerned.

4.

If you are using DNA evidence in your research, then researching your extended family is essential. Using DNA evidence effectively is fundamentally dependent upon researching the relationships between people in the extended family.

5.

When you research your extended family you are more likely to identify and perhaps communicate with other people researching that family. They may be able to assist with your research, have information that you do not and perhaps even family photographs you have never seen before.

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