Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Who owns your ancestors?

I know someone who started family history research within the last month. She figured out the technical aspects pretty much all on her own. All it took for her to get started was half an hour of instruction, and I think she probably didn't even need it. She found records that allowed her to add new people to her family tree in one night. But she kept coming back for help. Why? 

She felt like she needed permission to add these new people to her family tree. She wanted to talk to her mom about it before she did anything. She wanted to make sure she was adding them exactly right. She felt like, since she was a beginner, she needed to check with someone before she did anything.

You have as much right to your ancestors as anyone else in your family. You don't need permission from anyone to do family history research! You can make changes to your family tree. Give a reason and add a source and no one can argue with you. And if it turns out that you were wrong, you can just switch it back. 

Family Search really scares some of the more experienced genealogists. They are worried that beginners are going to mess up their family tree. They don't want to lose their work! You may owe them a debt of gratitude for finding the ancestors that popped up when you opened family tree for the first time. But they do not own your shared ancestors more than you do. You're allowed to work on it too.

I encourage you to keep the lines of communication open with the other people who are working on your family tree. Be respectful, ask for help and advice, but don't feel like you have to ask for permission to start family history research. Beginners are genealogists too. Just go for it.

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