Taking Back What Was Once Lost

Robyn’s 10 Key Genealogy Principles

When I teach my classes, I start with the following list of what I call my “10 Key Genealogy Principles“. I have garnered these from the best & the brightest and take no credit for any of them.  These are the most useful techniques and methodologies I have learned in my years of research that I keep coming back to again & again. I hear one or more of these principles taught at every conference and in every article I read, even if they are called different things, and utilizing one or more of these has been responsible for every breakthrough I’ve ever had.

So, I share them here with you, my family–they are in no particularly order. And, I’d love to hear what principles you’d add to this list?

Robyn’s 10 Key Genealogical Principles:

  • 1. Proof is Not A Document
  • 2. Always Seek Original Sources
  • 3. Always Cite Your Sources
  • 4. Any Source Can Be Wrong
  • 5. Search Broadly and Deeply (Use Multiple Locations, Types of Records & Generations)
  • 6. Research to Uncover Identities (Not Names)
  • 7. Rebuild Communities (Don’t Collect Individuals)
  • 8. Use Evidence to Build A Case
  • 9. Watch Your Assumptions (And Revisit them Often)
  • 10. Don’t Isolate Records (View them in Context)

7 Comments

  1. November 2, 2009    

    Great list!

    I would add one:

    11. Define your question before you look for an answer.

  2. November 2, 2009    

    Touche, Michael, yes that’s a good one!

  3. November 6, 2009    

    Yes, agreed, what a great list to follow. I seem to naturally use these every time I research.

  4. November 8, 2009    

    Robyn:

    I hope that every beginning genealogist will adhere to you list.

    I am very pleased you added cite your sources. They are the treasure map we leave our descendants and we wouldn’t want them looking in the wrong “X” marks the spot.

    To this I would hope that everyone would strive to make that a correct citation.

    Great Job!

    footnoteMaven

    • November 10, 2009    

      footnoteMaven, that you would drop on by my lil’ website makes me smile;)! Thanks so for your kind comments. I love your blog and am a faithful subscriber.

  5. Jahrod Pender's Gravatar Jahrod Pender
    December 27, 2010    

    Amen! I couldnt agree any better!!

  6. J Fuller's Gravatar J Fuller
    September 8, 2013    

    I’m pretty new at really digging, tho I’ve been on the trail for over 20 years. I appreciate your list…and am turning it into a spreadsheet so I can keep track of what I’ve done. Thanks, Robyn!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

First Time Visitor?

Welcome! Please go to the link above titled "Start Here." If you like the content, do join us by free subscription via email below so you can be notified of new posts.

About Me

I blog, teach, write and lecture about family history research and it's just as rewarding today as it was when I began 18 years ago. This lifelong quest has helped me to better know my past and I've taken back--reclaimed- my kin and some of that lost memory.  

Post History

What I Talk About

Locations and Surnames

Hardin, Chester and Lawrence Counties, TN
Holt, Barnes, Harbour, Bradley Springer and Fendricks
Lawrence County, AL
Springer and Fendricks
Montgomery County, MD
Prather, Simpson
Somerset County, MD
Waters, Fountain, Curtis
Duval and Madison County, FL
Smith, Harris, Garner

Favorite Family History Quotes

"The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past."
-William Faulkner

"Call it a clan, call it a network, all it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one"
- Jane Howard

"Friends are God's apologies for relations."
-Hugh Kingsmill

"No matter what you've done for yourself or for humanity, if you can't look back on having given love and attention to your own family, what have you really accomplished?"
-Elbert Hubbard

"Families are like fudge; mostly sweet with a few nuts."
-Unknown

"If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you might as well make it dance!"
-Unknown

"Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city;)"
-George Burns

"Where does the family start? It starts with a young man falling in love with a girl. No superior alternative has yet been found."
-Winston Churchill

"The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never ever introduce yourself to had life not done it for you."
-Kendall Hailey

"If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all the generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people."
-Thich Nhat Hanh

Geneabloggers