Exploring my roots has never been a constant past-time. The desire usually surfaces while dusting off my bookshelves and seeing all of the genealogy books gathering dust. Or when looking for Christmas stuff in my cabinets and finding a huge stack of papers on my Morris line that I still haven’t gone through after 16 years. All it takes is coming across some book or tidbit of information that sparks a potential research idea, and then – I’m off exploring! Searching the internet for databases or photos, or hunting down and copying info at the Archives from dawn to dusk, like a blood hound hot on the trail.
And, then…the scent disappears. Nothing. I look over what I’ve collected, copied, and researched for days, months, even years. But, Nothing. And, what is this Nothing throwing cold water on my exploration? Nothing is hitting a dead-end because there are no sources or the sources quoted in a book or email can’t be found or verified. So, if after a few more attempts Nothing is still there, then I usually set the genealogy stuff aside. You know, “Fiddle-dee-dee” to quote Scarlett O’Hara.
Sources are truly a necessary evil in my genealogy life. Would I ever consider not having them? Absolutely not. Would I ever consider every source I have as being the final word? Absolutely not.
After purchasing a new genealogy software program this past weekend, I could feel the stirrings in my blood. Time to blow off the dust, drag out those huge binders full of papers, and find a trail with a scent. So, as a warm-up, I ran a small family group report on my granddad and noticed that his death certificate had a source with the wrong repository. Tennessee? He died in Mississippi. Oh nooooo!!! It hit me that this must be how a Rockett lineage on a popular genealogy website had Tennessee listed as the death place for my granddad.
Years ago, I must’ve sent a GEDCOM to someone not realizing one or more sources had gotten combined or mixed up when switching from one software program to another. How many more sources are wrong?
The great Pit of Despair descended upon me as I realized that I was going to have to go through all of my source citations and verify them one by one:
- My source citation report is 101 pages long.
- It took me 5 hours last night to find and compare my source documents for 5 Rocketts from my daughter back to my great-grandfather, so I’m averaging 1 hour per person for the people I know!
- I have over 2,900 individuals in my genealogy database not including my husband’s lines.
- I’m 50 years old. You do the math!
“I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Scarlett O’Hara, Gone With the Wind.