Beginning Genealogy

Beginning Family Historians Be Warned

No matter when you begin seeking out your family legacy, you have to be warned about what lies ahead. Sure there will be dead ends, tangents, and records you can’t access. Sure you’ll run into family members who don’t play nicely in the sandbox. Yet, those aren’t the biggest cautions I would put forth as you and those around you begin on this journey.

I warn you of the bad apples.

In re-watching Relative Race Season One where Teen Green learned they were related to Ted Bundy, I felt for the couple but I understood the laughter of their new relatives.

Climbing your family tree is not for the faint of heart. Be prepared to find out that your ancestors did not always acquit themselves with the highest moral standards. Consider the following:

  • Some cheated.
  • Some stole.
  • Some broke hearts.
  • Some abandoned family.
  • Some said horrible to loved ones and strangers.
  • Some were drunks gamblers, debtors, and more.
  • Some were racists or owned slaves.
  • Some were abusive.
  • Some may have committed murder.

We can’t change the past and what relatives on our family tree did. We can only grow from it.

For every bad apple you find, there’s plenty of sweet delicious fruit waiting to be discovered.

Be ready for these less than stellar relations. It’s okay to be a little surprised, we’re not faulting Heather and Bradley. Just don’t let it stick as something to be afraid of.

Don’t deny or hide your ancestors with morals that don’t align with yours. You don’t have to embrace their actions as your own. Just record them as objectively as you can. If you don’t know how then  I have a video with some great tips.

How to write about the sensitive stories in your genealogy research

Feel free to comment about how you’ve handled the uncomfortable discovery of ancestors whose actions you wished stayed in the closet.

Genealogy has a lot of pitfalls and beginning genealogist can fall into traps. Don't be caught off guard! #genealogy101 #genealogy #ancestry

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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