These are the most useful techniques and strategies I have learned in my years of research. They are what continue to help me to solve my biggest genealogical puzzles.
One or more of these principles are taught at every genealogy conference and in every genealogical article. Sometimes they are called different things, but these are the skills you want to focus on growing.
I share them here with you in no particular order.
10 Key Genealogical Principles
- 1. Proof is Not A Document (It is the sum of all the relevant evidence)
- 2. Always Seek Original Sources
- 3. Always Cite Your Sources
- 4. Any Source Can Be Wrong
- 5. Search Broadly and Deeply (Use Multiple Locations, Record Types & Generations)
- 6. Research to Uncover Identities (Not to Uncover Names)
- 7. Rebuild Communities (Don’t Collect Individuals)
- 8. Use Evidence to Build A Case
- 9. Watch Your Assumptions (And Revisit them Often)
- 10. Don’t Isolate Records (View them in Context)
My fellow genealogists, I’d love to hear what principles you’d add to this list?
I am an engineer by day, but my true passion lies in genealogy. I have been a researcher, writer, lecturer and teacher for over twenty years. This blog is where I share family history methods, resources, tips and advice, with an emphasis on slave research, slavery and its aftermath. This lifelong quest has helped me to better know my family’s past. I’ve taken back– reclaimed– some of that lost memory, especially that of my enslaved ancestors. I hope you’ll sign up to receive my posts—if you do, you’ll get a free PDF with some of my favorite tips! And please do share posts that interest you.