Last weekend I presented a program for a local social dedicated to the restoration of an old "settler" home from the 1840s. I was asked to do a free presentation at the local library for about an hour. They wanted me to tell the audience how to research their family history.
Well, you know that this topic cannot be tackled in less than an hour. So, I decided to use an example of how to answer a historical question about a nearby area, then use the results of that research and apply them to research the genealogy of particular persons living in that area.
So, OK, before I put everyone to sleep, I had to inject a little humor and get the interest of the crowd. The following is my Research Rules of the Road. Most are common sense, but need to be stated nonetheless.
Don't believe everything you hear
Don't believe everything you read
Names are almost always spelled several ways
Nicknames were used since the dawn of time
People lie about their age
People lie about their occupations and income
People embellish stories
Most families have at least one Rotten Apple
You don't have to be married to have a baby
Some people forget to get a divorce before marrying a second, third, fourth....time
Once everyone prepares for their family research while keeping these topics in mind, there should be no reason to be shocked when you find out that your ancestors were are HUMAN. They made unfortunate decisions in their lives just like we do today. But, they survived through it all, just like we continue to do.