I got such a kick out of this week’s “Genealogy In Time” newsletter that I just had to post and share it on SpittalStreet.com. Please note the warning in the text:
“At GenealogyInTime™ magazine, we notice people often make the same mistakes over and over again when building their family tree. Sometimes these mistakes are subtle and sometimes they are not. The obvious mistakes are the ones that really bother us. With that in mind, we decided to take a rather unique approach to solving this problem.
Every piece of advice in this article is either outright wrong or highly misleading. That’s right, wrong. We do this so we can present these common genealogy mistakes in a fun and light-hearted manner. The objective is to use a bit of humour to encourage new users avoid these issues. Meanwhile, experienced users should get a good laugh out of this article.
Want to discover your family roots, but don’t have enough time or resources to spend months or even years tracking down your ancestors? Who does? Use our concise 14-point plan listed below and we guarantee that you will have a great family tree built in no time. Honest.
Warning: do not use this advice. The completed family tree may not be your own. It may contain errors. The contents may not suitable for presentation to small children or anyone with a bit of common sense. When in doubt, please consult a qualified genealogist.
Here is how you should build your family tree:
1. Forget Your Family – Don’t bother talking to your relatives. It takes too much time to track them all down. Besides, most of them won’t be helpful. It’s not like your relatives knew your ancestors.
2. Jump On the Internet - Isn’t it obvious? The internet is the future. Everything is on the internet, including information about your ancestors. You just have to know where to look. Let the internet do the hard work for you. Why waste your valuable time poking around dusty old archives. It will just make you sneeze anyways.
“The future is here. It’s just not widely distributed yet.” – William Gibson
3. Trust the Internet - If it is on the internet, it must be true. Take Wikipedia. Everything on Wikipedia is true. Well, the same can be said of genealogy records. Why would anyone make up a genealogy record?
4. Your are Related to People Who Have the Same Family Name - People with the same last name are related to you. Did you know that? Everyone in your family has the same last name right? Therefore, everyone with the same last name must be in your family. You just have to take your family tree back far enough to realize it.
“My mother loved children – she would have given anything if I had been one.” – Groucho Marx
5. You Have Royalty in Your Family - Most people can trace their family back to Europe. Everyone knows that Europe was once ruled by kings and queens. Royal families always produced lots of offspring. Your family must have also produced lots of offspring or else you wouldn’t be here today. Therefore, you must be descended from royalty.
6. Family Trees Go Back 1,000 Years – Coming from royalty, you can trace your family tree back at least 1,000 years. How? Everyone knows that royal families kept good records and constructed elaborate family trees. Once you establish your royal connection, you can use the royal family tree to go back several hundred more years.
“Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.” – Pancho Villa
7. Get a Family Coat of Arms - All families have a coat of arms. Make sure you grab yours and display it prominently on the front cover of your family tree book. This will add an air of importance and authenticity to your epic tome.
8. Citations Are Not Necessary – Who has time to create elaborate citations for every new piece of information about your ancestors? Everything is on the internet. Simply bookmark your sources and move on.
“Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.” – Jules Renard
9. Ignore Original Documents – The great thing about having all genealogy records on the internet is that someone has taken the time and effort to transcribe original documents. You don’t have to spend your time trying to read and decipher them. You can trust the people making the transcription to do a good job. After all, they are experts in their field. It is not like the records were transcribed in China.
10. Fill in the Blanks – Gaps often occur when building family trees. Don’t worry about it. It happens. The important thing is to make sure it doesn’t slow you down. When you have a blank space in your family tree, take an educated guess, fill it in and move on. Your intuition is most likely correct.
“First you get the facts and then you distort them anyway you please.” – Mark Twain
11. Dates Are Fluid – Your ancestors, unfortunately, were not very good at writing down dates. Like what year they were born. Often they guessed. This can occasionally lead to unusual date combinations. Such as children being born before their parents. Don’t worry about this kind of minor detail.
12. Fact Checking is Not Necessary – Need we say it? A total waste of time. All genealogy records are on the internet and all records are transcribed by experts. So why bother to check facts? What do you expect to find?
“It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” – Woody Allen
13. Copy and Paste is Your Friend – Genealogy is such a popular hobby that many millions of people have already put their family trees on the internet. Someone distantly related to you may have already done your family. Go and look for it. Once you find it, simply copy and paste the entire thing into your family tree. What could be easier?
14. It Just Takes a Weekend – If you spend more than a weekend building your family tree then you are doing something wrong. GenealogyInTime™ magazine has even put together a simple cartoon to show you how to build your family tree in a weekend. Watch it and learn.”