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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Methodology - Part 1: Getting Started, Methodology - Part 2: Organizing and Skillbuilding, Methodology - Part 3: More Strategies, Methodology - Part 4: Effective Searching and Recording, Methodology - Part 5: How To Prove It, and Methodology - Part 6: Professional Preparation and Practice  by Louise St Denis, Brenda Dougall Merriman and Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

What Genealogy Means…

A definition found in the dictionary states that ‘genealogy is the science of tracing your family back through the centuries. It’s a record or a table showing the descent of an individual or a family from a certain ancestor. It is the study of your pedigree.’

What the dictionary does not explain is the fun and the challenge you can have as you climb your family tree. Think of genealogy as a big, huge puzzle. And you are but one piece of that puzzle. Your mother, your father, your grandparents, they are all pieces of that same puzzle. But this puzzle has life in it, the life of all your ancestors. This is a very personal puzzle because once it’s complete, you will see how your life is interwoven with all the other pieces.

Think of genealogy as a hunt, be a detective, ask questions, look under every stone, accumulate data, evaluate your findings, use your imagination and have lots of patience, solve the mysteries of that puzzle and then reap the rewards once that puzzle is complete.

You see, the mystery in this puzzle is that once you get started, you never know where you’re going or what you’ll find once you get there. You may find doctors, judges and lawyers or you may find criminals, thieves and loafers. But whatever you find, they will be an important part of your heritage.

But, what’s a good genealogist? Many years ago, I photocopied this passage. I thought it was so appropriate.

The attributes of a genealogist. A good genealogist has an innate pride in family and country, and recognizes his duty to search out and record the truth. He becomes, first of all, a full-time detective, a thorough historian, an inveterate snoop, and at the same time, a confirmed diplomat, a keen observer, a hardened skeptic, an apt biographer, a qualified linguist, a part-time lawyer combined with quite a lot of district attorney, a studious sociologist, and― above all―an accurate reporter.[1]

References

  1. Williams, Ethel W., Know Your Ancestors: A Guide to Genealogical Research (1960; reprint, Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1976), p13.


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Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses Methodology - Part 1: Getting Started, Methodology - Part 2: Organizing and Skillbuilding, Methodology - Part 3: More Strategies, Methodology - Part 4: Effective Searching and Recording, Methodology - Part 5: How To Prove It, and Methodology - Part 6: Professional Preparation and Practice offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about these courses or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at wiki@genealogicalstudies.com

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.

  • This page was last modified on 18 April 2014, at 02:55.
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