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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Top 10 sins of a genealogist – & how to repent

It’s easy to make mistakes when you first start your family history but are you guilty of getting into bad habits? Paul Chiddicks reveals the top 10 sins a genealogist can commit… and – importantly – how to avoid making them in the first place


How many of my genealogist top 10 sins have you committed while carrying out your family history research?

Most of us have done it, got carried away researching several different lines of our family tree at once, or feeling tempted to click on an online match, to add an ancestor to our tree, without checking the facts.

Whether you are a newbie, intermediary, or a professional, I am sure you will have made some of these mistakes yourself – but sometimes mistakes become habits, and ones that are very hard to break.

So let’s begin with examining the pitfalls and mistakes that most of us will have made at least once in our research and look at ways in which we can avoid making those same errors again.

If you follow my regular blog on the Family Tree magazine website at you would have seen earlier in the year, my blog on this very subject. In this article I would like to take that one step further and help you to develop the skills to avoid making these mistakes in the first place.

So here are my top 10 sins of a genealogist and how to avoid them!

Sin 1: Assuming everything you find online is correct

The number one mistake that a lot of people make is the assumption that everything you find online ‘must be correct’. Unfortunately a lot of what you will find online will potentially have errors, whether they are simple transcription mistakes, from a subscription website, to completely uncorroborated trees. So be warned! Never just ‘cut and paste’ information into your tree, you need to confirm the details yourself, via various sources, before you include it in your tree. The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) is the Holy Grail for all genealogists to prove a genealogical conclusion, with as much certainty as possible.

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About Family Tree

What is it about family history that's captured your imagination? Whether you're seeking the story of your WW2 veterans who fought at D-Day, or tracing your tree across continents to bring your family back together again, we've got a host of advice and tales to help and inspire you: 1. Gen up on your ancestors' role in D-Day (75 years ago this June). 2. Discover how to use DNA, combined with the paper records, to trace family worldwide. 3. Learn about the top 10 genealogy sins - and how to repent and become a better family history sleuth! Plus DNA tips, reader stories, expert advice on your questions and brickwalls, and so much more... - including that all-important topic of 'How to write your family history'! Enjoy