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Principles of Family History Research Gotoarrow.png Step 2. Decide What You Want to Learn Gotoarrow.png One Research Objective at a Time

Within a family you can more freely choose which individual you will research. You can skip around among family members seeking first the easiest-to-document events in the family. The easier to document events will lead to new clues for finding more-difficult-to-document events in the family.

Compare all the events on the family group record. Notice which events are most complete and have the best documentation. Also note the events with missing, partial, or estimated information, or with poor source footnotes. In general, first check on the already-cited sources to verify your own records. Then one event in a person’s life at a time you look up new sources to document a poorly sourced event. Start first with events that have the most complete place, and most complete dates.

You should be able to name the exact person and identify exactly which event in his life you want to document. Stay focused on that research objective until you find at least one source that documents it. Do not give up or change research objectives lightly.

Stay focused on one event in one person's life at a time until
you find at least one source to document it.

If at first you don’t succeed, continue with the same research objective. But look for the person's name spelled a different way or for a nickname, search a variety of records and record types, change the jurisdictions you search, inquire at many repositories, and if necessary research even kin and associates in order to find documentation for your chosen research objective.

As you begin to find things, slowly work your way to objectives involving the least sourced events in the family, with skimpiest place or date information. Sometimes events are not mentioned on the family group record, but it is important to guess they happened anyway. Stick with the same family until work on documenting all the events in their lives is mostly finished. Try to obtain complete genealogical information for each family member.

Complete Information

Complete Information fully identifies any individual and links him to the correct family. It includes the vital event information noted in Types of Genealogical Information. For many places and time periods you may substitute other information when some of these are not available. For example, a christening or baptism record may substitute for birth information. Burial information may substitute for a death record.

Try to obtain complete genealogical information
for each ancestor and family member.

Minimum Information

Minimum Information is the least amount of information needed to continue research into other generations. It will vary depending on the family, time period, and place, but should generally include:

  • First and last name of the person and at least one parent.
  • Sex
  • Approximate birth year and probable place (state or country)
  • Spouse's name and approximate marriage date

At the very least minimum identification includes the name and the date and place of an event.

Minimum identification includes the name, date, and place of an event.

Insufficient Information

Insufficient Information means that significant facts about the person or family are unknown or unproven. In such cases, research must not continue to other generations. Basing further research on insufficient information results in errors in family connections to other generations. It could also lead to untraceable persons or research "dead ends." Insufficient information includes:

  • Missing information
  • Incomplete information
  • Conflicting information (unresolved)
  • Unverified information

For more suggestions on evaluating information see Nature of the Information.


 

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  • This page was last modified on 10 January 2014, at 11:59.
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