Today, we publish the second in a series of articles written by our guest blogger Deborah Large Fox.
The dead and the living are the yin and yang of Irish genealogy. Our living and deceased relatives are interconnected, and our research must include searching for both. The living relatives are the ones who will point us in the right direction for finding our deceased ancestors.
Contrary to many of the current marketing slogans aimed at family historians, diving headfirst into online databases is a recipe for mistakes and misinformation. We must have a basic amount of knowledge about our ancestors before searching in these databases. Otherwise, we run into the danger of collecting false information. Many are the times I have had to correct people who have incorporated the wrong families into their trees by following the “hits” on an online database search engine. For example, a researcher cannot claim a “John Magee” on a census record without knowing enough about her Magee family to be able to discern whether the person on the retrieved record is in fact, or very likely to be, “her” John Magee.
So, how does one determine if a person named in a census or other record is most likely an ancestor? As I advised last month, all researchers must begin with themselves in the present, and then work backwards and laterally, in time and generations, through their ancestral tree. Therefore, after you have recorded your current family information, the next step is one that some researchers dread and others love—contacting living relatives for information. Yes, you must now contact that aunt whom you have not seen for years!
Contacting living relatives is very important for Irish family researchers. We need to know our Irish family stories. The Irish tradition is an oral one. Ireland’s early history and its ancient legal system were kept in song and verse. Since so many Irish records have been lost, many life events were not recorded, except in the hearts and minds of the Irish people.
Find and contact as many living relatives, both young and old, as you can. You never know who has a letter or photograph or story that could prove vital to your family history. Your living family stories will help you determine your ancestors’ locations, spouses, children, and occupations, and could provide other clues that will prove instrumental in determining which John Magee is your John Magee.
Plus, you might meet a relative interested in joining you on your genealogical journey!
For more information on your family research visit Deborah’s blog spot: