You’ve Won the Genealogy Game!

No. You haven’t.

Really. Seriously.

You have not won the genealogy game because there is no such thing. Family history research is not a contest to see who can get a lineage back the furthest. It is not a game to see who can get the names of their direct ancestors. They don’t give out little prizes to the person who cite sources without reference to Evidence Explained.riley-book

That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of it works.

Genealogy is about conscientiously and to the best of your ability attempting to document your ancestors’ stories as accurately and as faithfully as you can. It is about improving your skills when necessary so that your research reflects the spirit of the records that have been left behind. That’s not always an easy task.

Some of us descend from 19th-century Irish immigrants who can be difficult to trace. Some of us descend from peasants from other areas of Europe where there are similar research challenges. Others have great-grandparents who were adopted or born out-of-wedlock. Those individuals often have lineage problems that are insurmountable.

There’s no prize for filling in more blanks on your chart than someone else. There’s no prize for getting your lineage back further than someone else. And there’s no prize for having an ancestor on the Mayflower, at Jamestown, etc.

It’s about the research and the faithful reconstruction of your ancestor’s life.

And that’s enough.

Unless you successfully trace a Brown or Smith family back ten generations. We might need a prize for that.


10 thoughts on “You’ve Won the Genealogy Game!

  1. Much more exciting, exhausting, exhilarating, frustrating and fun to research because you want to learn about the people and the times.
    thanks for all the tips

  2. Thayne Curtis says:

    What a great thought. I guess I’ve always known this, but you stated it so well, and a refresher is always helpful. Thank you!

  3. Yes, to you Michael and the above posters – Thank you…I agree!.
    Accuracy and citing found documents, understanding docs found, family relatives/siblings via more docs. to verify info, making connections with various family, researching the time/place/courthouse and anything available – is the key for a correct tree and not “who can go back to beyond eg 1700’s or beyond. It is Not a Race or Who/How you think you are related to.. Celebrity/Known person related in the past…
    Errors found all over on “other family trees”, copy and paste – not good…

  4. Thomas Vilfroy says:

    I’m heard Michael a few times tell the “lovely” story of someone saying they got their lineage back to Adam and Eve…LOL

    On a more serious note, there is a “genealogy” website by the name of that is NOT a genealogy site but it is actually a site that displays your personal information. Found out about this a few days ago via our local news station. And there is a way to remove your info but they sure make you go through a lot of hoops to do so. Please pass this info along since I hate sites that say they are one thing but really are not.

  5. Trish Hatfield says:

    I appreciate your message and your clarity, Michael. A copy of your post is in my personal genealogy file, to encourage and remind me about the authenticity of my own research!

  6. The bare truth in this post made me smile from ear to ear! It also reminded me of a seminar I attended in Boston on “Tracing Irish Ancestors” One of the gents speaking at the seminar assured us that they were there to help us kick down the brick walls-unless we were looking for a “Murphy” Which ofcourse I was…

    • I’m glad you liked it!
      I have an Irish Murphy, too. Anne born in the 1840s, somewhere in Ireland. That’s as much about her origins as I know.

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