Creating your family tree – keep going back with fresh eyes

As you go through the process of creating your family tree, it is always a good idea to go back to the work you have already done, and look at it again with fresh eyes.

For most people, researching their family tree is a fun and interesting pastime.

However, if the data doesn’t match up, it can seem like an ongoing mystery with puzzles and riddles to solve along the way.

You may have spent the first week of your search piecing together the lives, marriages and children of your great-grandparents.

That is a great base to work from. Of course at the time you would believe all the information you have to be correct.

However, as you learn more about the characters in your family history, there may be some anomalies appearing that don’t make sense.

This is a good time to stop. Go back to the beginning to look at your work with ‘fresh eyes’.

What you believed to be true in week one may not be so plausible after weeks two or three. By then you have discovered more about your family history and the characters within it.

You won’t get it all right first time when creating your family tree

Go back to sources you’ve already looked at with a fresh eye – you might see something you missed before.

It is also important to consider the strength of your evidence. Are there a number of secondary sources saying the same thing?

All those secondary sources could have been based on the same primary source. Perhaps that primary source was incorrect.

This can be demoralising, but it is important to know if you have an error that has led you down the wrong path.

It is all part of the challenge of piecing your family history together. It wouldn’t be fun if it was all easy and straightforward right?

On the other hand, you may go back with fresh eyes and look at your research and decide that everything you have found is reliable and solid. This will give you great confidence moving forward with a strong base of information.

Taking time out from your search to look back at what you already have is a worthwhile pause in your work.

The basic info you pieced together in the early stages will be much more meaningful once you back at it. The more you discover the more the personalities and traits of individuals in your family tree will reveal themselves.

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Key points to take away

  • You are unlikely to get all the information correct on your first attempt, so be prepared to review your work with a critical eye
  • Information that was brand new to you a short while ago, will mean so much more after a few weeks of studying your family tree so willing to return and go over the sources again
  • If you can, try and solve mysteries and anomalies as you find them, rather than leave then to tackle at a later stage.