Puts Family History Research Tools in the Beginners Hand.

Perils You May Encounter in Family History Research

by Nick Thorne.

There have been times, when I have embarked on family history research, that I will admit that I've just been too narrow in my thinking. I guess that I have concentrated too much on details that I believed to be correct about my ancestors. The sort of thing I mean is knowing how to spell their name and so not being open to variations. Another mistake is to only look in a particular town or area in a blinkered way. When we family history researchers investigating our family tree make these sort of mistakes then we are inviting grief and a whole lot of wasted time. We may well have been searching in the correct place but were we searching in the right or wrong way? My submission is that we just need to open up our minds to doing research in a smarter way and then we will often gain the reward of finding the data that we are searching.

I urge you to consider how your web-based research could perhaps gain in its quality if you always:

  • Keep handy a list of the known surname variants for your ancestor's name (e.g. in my own tree there is Thorn, Thorne, Stephens, Stevens and a huge variation in the spelling of Sissill.)
  • Think about what common first-name nicknames may apply and also any regularly used shortened forms of names. For example Thomas may be written as Thos. Elizabeth as Eliz. or Eliza. and I've seen John written as Jono.
  • Have written down some of the capital letters that can easily be confused like J and I, for example
  • Remember that place names can be confused - in my Devon branch there are two Galmptons very near each other and I jumped to the conclusion that my great grandmother came from the one near to where they lived. Wrong!
  •  Keep in mind the typical length of a person's life-span and don't end up pursuing someone with a similar name thinking they are one and the same. Then there are the ranges of dates for ancestor's weddings, deaths and the births or baptisms of their children?
  • Keep detailed research logs as you work and so avoid repeating searches already done at earlier stages.
  • Remain conscious that gaps can occur in whatever data sets. If you are looking at a distinct time period and you are unable to locate an ancestor, then you can waste more time than necessary looking if you don't check to see if this time frame also match a known gap in the data.

So if you memorize these seven ways for avoiding family-tree research pitfalls, you may be able to miss out on the errors that I made in the past when researching my ancestors! Good luck in your family history searches and if you need more help to break down brickwalls take a look at my blog

If you've been searching for your British Isles ancestors, as have I for several years now, then you too have probably hit some brick walls.

You probably concentrated you efforts on all the easy connections in your family tree and put aside all the frustrating ones to do later. I know how you feel as I continuously came up against all sorts of brick walls when I do my own family history. In the beginning I didn't know how to get past some of them, even though now I realise that they were relatively easy to crack. It is annoying as I missed out on a lot of leads that I would otherwise have found and followed sooner.

That is why I have published the

Family History Researcher English/Welsh course:


Take a look at what is in "Beginning Family History Research" by Nicholas Thorne

I don't just sell my valuable information... I also give it away!

You can access to some of my Free stuff here.

To start off take a look at the podcasts to the right... and then the video: Brick walls

Also, there are Articles added all the time to my Blog: "The Nosey Genealogist".

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Audio Family History help files


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Podcast: 1.Five Golden Rules.

Podcast: 2.Stumbling Blocks.

 Podcast: 3.Non Conformist in the Family?

Podcast: 4.IGI and Using Hugh Wallis' site.

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