Skip to content

People searches: 3 areas of failure for family trees

It’s something that’s not particularly spoken about by young people, but if one were to delve into most families there would be at least one historian who has bought into the family tree phenomenon. Particularly with the internet now in flow, one could argue that this is something that has become more popular than ever before.

Unfortunately, even with the existence of the internet, family trees are still not easy to compile. Sure, you might not have any difficulties in relation to the last few decades, but beyond that and things take a turn for the challenging. Once you start to reach an era where everyone is deceased, those people searches that were once oh so easy are now anything but.

Bearing this in mind, we have found some of the most common areas of failure for those researchers who have been charged with the task of creating a family tree. If you fall into this category, read on to find three areas which are most commonly known to result in a dead end.

Alternate spellings

Particularly when you start to roll back the decades, there’s no doubt that this is one of the most common problems that a lot of family tree researchers come across. Finding John Smith is easy (or not, considering how popular this example name is!), but finding Jon Smith when you aren’t searching for it is difficult to say the least. Unfortunately, once you start to really go back in time, this was an approach that was commonly adopted by archives – they didn’t list the name that we are looking for.

It doesn’t just come down to spellings either. For example, some archives might list initials, or even worse call the person by their middle name. This is something that can really grind your research to a halt, so before you start make sure you think of all of the different combinations of a name that you might be looking for.

Indexes: not everything they are made out to be

In general, an index is absolutely invaluable for a researcher. After all, this is effectively a road map for your research, it will tell you exactly where to look as you try and piece together your family tree.

The problem is that not all indexes are created equally. What we mean by this is that some don’t list all of the information that might be in a particular archive, and this means that you are immediately given the impression that the information doesn’t exist.

In short, don’t believe everything you see in an index. Sure, the information should be in there, but if it’s not it might not be the end of the story.

Don’t trust anyone

This next point might appear a little over the top, but in relation to archive copies from other people you should never trust what has been given to you. You should always be looking to verify archives and ensure that they are exactly as they are made out to be. In summary, there’s nothing more valuable than an original copy.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply