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9. Be Prepared for Conflicts

It is common for genealogists to come across conflicting information on the same individual. Take something as basic as a date of birth. The more you go back in time, the more likely you are to come across situations where a given individual has different dates of birth listed on various documents.

How does this happen? Many people could not read or write back in the day and often had only a vague idea of when they were born. Over their lifetime, it is perfectly possible they listed different birth dates on different forms. This was particularly true if it was to their advantage. For example, a woman might change her birth date on a marriage certificate to make herself look younger. A man might change his birth date on a military enrolment form to make himself look older. Keeping careful records and questioning all sources of information will help sort out these conflicting facts.

10. Have Fun

In summary, successful genealogists are ones that go slow, focus their efforts, don’t expect to find everything conveniently packaged for them on the internet, question all their sources and keep good records. If you want to be successful in building your family tree, you need to think in these terms. By knowing these attributes before you get started, hopefully you can avoid some of the common mistakes people make when building their family tree.

Genealogy can be a lifetime hobby. It takes only a few weekends to start a family tree. For the dedicated genealogist, it can take months and years of effort to complete. However, in a sense, a family tree is never really finished because it is a living reflection of your family and your family is constantly changing. There is always more to discover. Happy hunting!

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