Researching is
A Hobby

(Not a Family Feud!!)


This page last updated October 27, 2003

It's sometimes difficult to remember that genealogy is a hobby and get into a family feud with others over facts and data.

I personally have a few lineages of my own that for as many ancestors as there are, it seems that there a just that many different opinions of how the connections "really are".

Unless everyone out there has a much easier time of researching then I do; I know that there are times that the finding, cataloging, and following the various marriages can sometimes push you to the edge of your sanity.

So, not many of us need that added stress of arguing with another researcher regarding a difference of opinions in collected data.

Have we become so self absorbed in our researching that we have forgotten the basic lessons in getting along with others?

I give you the fact that there ARE researchers out there who have the ethics caliber of a snail or the dedication to accuracy of data held by the town drunk. BUT OVER ALL...those are the exceptions and not the rule.

For the most part and in order for our system of "bartering and trade" to work in researching we must learn to develop "genealogy partners". These are persons that have the same convictions as you do towards getting the data correctly.

My own personal opinion is that if I don't have the judgment base to determine if another researcher is a wise choice to work with...I surely have no business researching people who lived 100 years ago that I have never met and don't know their character.

No one researcher can develop a complete family history without some form of assistance from others.

In the end, IF you are going to research at all; and IF you are going to interact with other researchers, there are some truths and guidelines you absolutely MUST abide by to "keep peace in the family".

When dealing with others, there WILL be different opinions or translations..its human nature.

Some decisions made are based on older records that the interpretations are only as good as the record quality..that is not another researchers fault.

A different opinion than your own is NOT a WRONG opinion, only a DIFFERENT one.

That doesn't give you the right to:

Slander someone else

Attack their researching ethics

Place the whole of their research in question with others.

Make certain that "everyone" else knows that they made an error by disagreeing with you.

Read them the riot act, simply because the data that they found was not the data that you were hoping to find. (Maybe your speculations were WRONG).

It DOES give you the right as a human being to make YOUR OWN judgment call as to whether or not to accept their information, continue to correspond with them, or drop them from your email listings.

If you are the type of person uncomfortable with accepting someone else's opinion, then working by yourself might be the best solution.

It is up to YOU to develop your "core research group" consisting of persons whose opinions/judgments you trust or value.

Realize that in working with some of the older records, there are some times when the best you can get is a "judgment call".

Nobody can give you all the "right" answers....don't expect it and you won't be so dissappointed or frustrated.

Don't argue with another researcher in a difference of opinions as that really takes the enjoyment out of researching. OR realize that may be the reason you cannot find your ancestors at all..either nobody will want to respond to any pleas for assistance or your arguing is a family trait and "way back there" someone else got tired of it and there WAS a family feud and they just "knocked off your ancestors".

Remember it is YOUR job as a researcher to verify facts sent to you. They are entered into your database BY YOUR HAND and based on your code of judgment.

If you are working with someone who lives a great distance away who is capable of finding facts that you have no access grateful for their "act of kindness". Thank them if it is right or wrong. Then if the facts don't "measure up for you", don't request more assistance from that person.

Most other researchers are just doing this as a hobby, just as you are. They are finding and sorting out the facts as best they can given the records they work with. Always take into account that the records themselves could be in error.

If you are working under a time frame to find the data and the data isn't coming through...that is not the fault of another researcher. If you really want the data and have a heavy time frame..HIRE SOMEONE TO RESEARCH FOR YOU. You may get better results if you PAY for the forms, documents and certificates.

Lastly, remember, researching is a hobby (meaning it "SHOULD" be enjoyable), a science (meaning "judgment calls and testing"), mostly based on voluntary "bartering and trading" (meaning someone's willingness to share is dependent on your attitude, of which YOU control).

If you are working with someone connected with your family lineage, they are most likely just as concerned as you about getting the facts straight. If they are not working with your lineage, but doing you a favor, they are under no obligation to help you at all..SO BE GRATEFUL.


Debbie Jennings

Website Coordinator