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Why I'm Starting My Tree from Scratch

Updated: Nov 8, 2019

When I first started putting together my family tree on Ancestry I was a beginner. Yes, I had already done some of the groundwork by speaking with older generations to collect all the information possible before starting my search, but I didn't really understand tree etiquette or best practices. Besides having no real process to adding people and records to my tree, the biggest no-no was trusting other people's trees without verifying the information first. Those leaves (and now the so-called "Potential Father" and "Potential Mother" feature) can get you into trouble! Not until much later did I learn the error of my ways, and hundreds of people and records later, it has become difficult to work backwards on my existing tree.

Ancestry Family Trees is the only source I have for many entries, even though I may have found records elsewhere. I can do better.

To be sure, I will keep my master tree, and I'll probably go back and fix more of it at some point because I like having a comprehensive representation of who I am and where I come from. Not to mention, I want my kids to have it also, as it includes their father's family, too. But I see some benefits to starting from the beginning.

First, I want to create trees for each of my grandparent's families. Through DNA and research, I have found several new family members, and I have been remiss in adding all of them to my tree as I go along. Many want to learn more about their respective family, and I want to ensure I have as much information as possible to share. Others are NPEs, so-called non-parental events (i.e., they have a parent whom was not expected), so it is my responsibility to teach them about their new family for the first time. This is a personal preference, but I would like to divide my tree this way, so that I can share the information with the particular branch and others don't have to get caught in the weeds of individuals not even connected to them.

This was my great-grandfather's first cousin. From DNA matches, I learned more about him and his descendants, but have yet to add them to the tree.

Furthermore, one of my New Year's resolutions is to organize my findings better. I want to go back over my work and focus on the information, not just monotonously add it without considering how the records tell a story of the individual and my family history. Ancestry is a great resource to consolidate all the information, but I also hope to download my new trees to various software this year and store my records in the event of a technical difficulties.

Finally, I also want to add more records that I have found outside of Ancestry because there is more out there that has informed my research. I need to account for my time spent on FamilySearch, JewishGen,, and GenealogyBank, which helped me overcome brickwalls and added another dimension to the lives of my ancestors. Concerning JewishGen in particular, I have record information, but I do not always search for the microfilm. I want to be better at seeing and maintaining tangible records from my family history.

The 1897 Census conducted throughout the Russian Empire. This excerpt was conducted in Dvinsk, Latvia, and includes my 2nd great-grandparents.

Of course, this is all a tall order, but I think it is incredibly worthwhile to reconnect with my own roots (not just those of my clients and Bravolebrities, which I love to do also!) and organize my work for additional collaboration and personal and professional growth.


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