Extended Years
Genealogy Mistakes To Avoid

Today, there are about 4,763,821 ways in which you can research your genealogy and track down the stories of your family history. Alright, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but there's certainly a lot of ways to go about things. That said, the plethora of tools available can sometimes be more of a hindrance than a help, as newbie researchers often get bogged down in all of the options available to them and never really buckle down and take action on any one thing. In order to help you avoid these common mistakes, let's lay them out on the table right here, right now.

Paying to Play

Ancestry.com, or any other one of the major players in the online genealogy arena, surely have something to offer you, but they're going to cost you as well. Most sites offer a free trial, but rookie researchers might eat up their free trial time, or waste their money when it runs out by not knowing the best ways to go about researching, or not even knowing exactly what they're looking for. It's recommended that you save these resources for later on, and stick to some more traditional routes, at least right out of the gate. This goes as well for full service options; if money is no object, then feel free to pay private researchers to assemble your family tree for you, some are reputable and very good. If, on the other hand, you aren't looking to break the bank or just want to feel out the advetnure on your own, then it's probably best to bench the paid services, at least for now.

Making Assumptions

One of the quickest ways to stump yourself when doing research is to stay narrow-minded. Don't feel bad if you find yourself drifting this way, it's only natural for most people. Genealogy is as much art as it is science. Names change, records get held in a nearby country, cities and towns change their boundaries of jurisdiction. You may have an idea of what you're looking for, but don't be afraid to make tweaks and changes to your parameters as you learn more about the history of the people and places you're researching.

Information Overload

One of the biggest problems many new researchers run into is that they decide to Google a relative or family name and quickly find themselves lost in information that is completely irrelevant. Especially if you have a common last name - and most everyone's is more common that they think it is - you won't find much of use to you by scouring search engine results. You need to make your scope wide enough to take into account the aforementioned "Making Assumptions" advice, but still focused enough that you're able to filter out the unnecessary items. If you've heard a story from someone about an old family farm that burned down, searching for your last name + ranch/farm fire + the presumed location will probably find you relevant information, if it exists, much quicker than just typing in your family name + 'origins' or 'family tree' and chipping away at thousands of search results.


Looking up your genealogy can be an incredibly rewarding endeavor. Finding out your roots and your family history provides new context and meaning for your current situation.

Unfortunately, researching your genealogy can also be an extremely time consuming and frustrating task as well. Your search can be a little easier if you learn from some valuable lessons that other people have learned while looking up their family histories.

Here are a few guides to help you on your journey:

Genealogy mistakes to avoid

How to start your genealogy search

Ways to narrow your search

Texas genealogy tips

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