Tuesday, July 10, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Week # 28 - Mistakes

Got mistakes? from kayaker1204 on Flickr
52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2012) that invite genealogists and others to discuss resources in the genealogy community including websites, applications, libraries, archives, genealogical societies and more.

Genealogy research mistakes are wonderful learning experiences. They can be blessings when they show you how to improve your genealogy research. Which genealogy research mistake in your past has provided the most benefit to your present? How did you discover the mistake and what steps did you take to correct it? Sharing about these experiences will help others who are figuring out their own ancestral paths.

Ouf.  This is a difficult post to write.  No-one likes to be thought of as flawed, stupid or dumb.  If you boldly state that you've made mistakes in the past, how will anyone ever trust what you say in the future?  Well, as Amy says, mistakes are blessings if you can recognise them for what they are...i.e an opportunity to learn, rather than an opportunity to be embarrassed or ashamed.  

In knitting, when we make a mistake we have to undo or unravel what we have done...funnily enough - particularly for this blog...it's called frogging.  I've got a few "frogged" knitting projects - projects that I've just had to put to one side because I can't bear to unravel them again to find out where I made the mistake.  Here's a picture of one....

I have made so many mistakes in Genealogy that I would be too embarrassed to reveal all of them but I'll share a couple that I think are too important not to share....

  1. Be very careful about what you share with other researchers and what you upload to the net....I tend to be very open and generous - firmly believing in what goes round comes round.  This needs to be tempered with an understanding of security issues now that we have the advent of the world wide web which exposes us to those who have a different agenda. When conducting family history research, you inevitably meet others researching the same lines etc and want to include them and their research into your family tree software so you can see how you all fit in together.  You need to mask any information about people who are still living particularly if you are going to upload that information to any platform such as Ancestry.  
  2. Someone once said, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.  What does that mean exactly?  Well I think it means that you think you know things when you don't ...i.e. you make assumptions.  Always test your assumptions.  Check and re-check.  Let me give you an example.  I am part of the Research Team for QFHS.  Someone wrote in recently seeking information about orphanages in Victoria.  Frogger here thought "Why on earth is she asking us for that information.  I'll have to re-direct her to the PRO in Victoria."  Barp!  Wrong!  Test your assumption Alex!  Thankfully I looked up QFHS' catalogue to discover....we held microfiche of admission or registers to half a dozen benevolent asylums in Victoria.  Just because it is the Queensland Family History Society doesn't mean our resources are limited to Queensland.
  3. Last but not least - and this is almost the reverse of my previous point.  Don't assume that because you don't know everything you can't help.  And this goes for all of life really.  How on earth are you ever going to know if you don't give it a go.  Volunteer in a society library?  Oh I couldn't...I don't know where anything/everything is... The best way to find out is to have to show someone...you can both find out together.  Write a blog?  Oh I couldn't...I'm not a very good writer....The best way to learn to write is to.....write.  Go to a conference or on a genealogy cruise?  I couldn't...I don't know anyone.....go to a conference/on a cruise and then you will!
 Jump in !  The water's fine!  
You never know you might meet a frog like me!
Thanks to hatarchive on Flickr for this image
Let's end with a quote shall we?  From Mary Pickford...
"If you have made mistakes...there is always another chance for you...you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call "failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down."
So, what are you doing?  Jump up!


Ann O'Dyne said...

Yes yes - the early days (2004) I made online mistakes I still regret (full name on forums and things, not anticipating the power of Search engines today), but the best resource online is Friends. I helped some people far away from a cemetery near to me (it wasn't hard to look up their people and photograph a few headstones) and they sent me BMD CDs as a thank you, bless them.
There are many useful worldwide links at this Ballarat history website and I keep meaning to nominate the guy for an OA to recognise his services to amateur researchers everywhere.

May your brickwalls come tumbling down dear Tre Frog.

Fi said...

Love your thoughts on mistakes. I'm a believer that we learn more from them than when things go right. As a fellow knitter, I adore the frog reference. From here on, when I have to remove people from my tree I shall consider them 'frogged'!