I am not certain if there will be multiple posts here or simply one on-going post. Either way, I think it is worthwhile sharing some thoughts on ‘doing genealogy’ work.
The first thing I noticed when I began tracing genealogical information is that there is lots of it! Some is easy to find, some is not. It is a curiosity to me that everything you really want or need seems to be missing. I am pretty sure that means, or perhaps better said, it almost seems there is a conspiracy out there somewhere. Somehow crucial information is always lacking. This generally means the genealogist (me or you in this case) has to make decisions using imperfect information. As a result there can, and almost certainly there are, errors in every genealogy.
So what causes these problems? Well in my limited experience there are a number of reasons why information can be ‘lost’ or corrupted:
- Wars. Wars seem to be a major cause of information destruction. Obvious, I know. But for me that is a huge problem. Much of my mother’s family comes from an area where there were lots of wars (Prussia). As a result, we lack big chunks of information. And worse yet, the information trail does not go very deep into the past.
- Poverty. It seems that poor people do not have the funds for keeping good records. I know that’s obvious but it is frustrating. If you happen to have the misfortune of having ancestors that lived in a poor region or during bad economic times, there will most certainly be a shortage of facts.
- Illiteracy. People who can’t read and write, are not very good at record keeping. I guess that ought to be obvious.
- Time. Old things are hard to locate. Histories and stories, not to mention official records, seem to deteriorate over time. In the engineering and physics world this is called entropy. Entropy is a major reason why good information is difficult to obtain. Things simply disappear…
Certainly there are other reasons why it is difficult to gain good information. But these are the items that seem to block my efforts most often.