Saturday, 24 January 2015

No sources? No problem.

Today I spent a few hours visiting with my mother and aunt and the subject of family history came up. I haven't explored my mother's side of the family yet and had never heard many of their family stories, so it was quite an interesting visit. As I was leaving I mentioned to my aunt that I would be interested in seeing what information she has on her side of the family. According to the stories she told, several people on my maternal side have done varying amounts of research and there have been some conflicting details - one grand-aunt claims we have "Chinese royalty", another aunt claims we have no Chinese, a cousin says there is a Chinese connection... Whatever the truth, it will be fun exploring the different branches and trying to determine which of the conflicting tales is true.

On my way home I wondered how much of my this research will be documented and how thoroughly at that. Will my aunt have all the relevant documents, or just a couple of family trees compiled by others? To be honest, it really doesn't matter that much. Sure, it would be nice if the trees are fully sourced, with reasoned arguments for the various conclusions, but even if the is just a tree with no supporting evidence that in itself could be a useful tool. I will be able to use the trees as a guide for my own research, which will be a heck of a lot more than I have right now.

Sure, I won't actually be doing any of this research for some time to come - I have a lot on my plate as it is - but when the time comes I will gladly accept whatever information my aunt can provide, no matter how poorly documented. Even a roughly sketched map is better than no map at all when exploring unfamiliar territory. And who knows? I might be pleasantly surprised to discover a treasure trove of fully sourced evidence which will make things so much easier!


  1. You do have a source. Your source is your aunt. Make sure you write her down as your source for whatever information you get from her, or eventually, when you merge that information with information from other sources, you will forget what was from her.

  2. True, and I will cite my aunt as the source of this information, but I have seen some people who will refuse to even look at another person's unsourced family tree out of fear of contaminating their own meticulously researched tree. I will take any information I can, but will simply assign it a low level of trustworthiness and will then seek other sources to verify the information. 8^)