Thinking of the Pitfalls

When determining a way to solve your genealogical problem, ask yourself when that problem-solving process might not work. That does not mean that the process should not be used, but using a process without thinking about the drawbacks can create additional problems.

If using personal or property taxes to find potential relatives of your ancestor, remember that those without property may not appear on the tax rolls.

If using land deeds, remember that those who choose not to own their own home or do not need land for their chosen occupation may not appear in those records.

If relying on wills to “locate potential parents,” remember that those without property rarely leave wills and sometimes those with property find other ways to handle their estate.

Every record has potential drawbacks and every approach has limitations. Being aware of the “negative” aspects of a record type or an approach allows the researcher to utilize that approach more effectively and better troubleshoot when that record or approach does not work.

A positive approach to your research is to think negative.


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