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Previous Research:
Has it been done before?

In the course of your genealogical research, you will probably uncover a lot of information that may or may not be useful to your study. Of course their relevance to your particular area of interest may not be readily apparent until much later in your study.

Something to consider though, when gathering data for your research is the possibility that someone has already done the research before you. Furthermore this information may be publicly archived and can in fact be available for your perusal for whatever means you see fit.

This is not as unusual as it would seem at first; after all genealogical researchers only have a limited number of written records at their disposal and many tend to utilise the same documents.

Genealogical research is a time intensive task that can involve a lot of legwork on the part of the researcher, so before you undertake any serious research endeavour, you might be able to save yourself a lot of time and effort by checking any number of different resources to find out if you can be able to use any existing documents in your work.

The Genealogical Research Directory in particular, which is published for the sole purpose of tracing family bloodlines and lineages, is a good place to begin your investigation. On the Internet, which by itself is another good source of information, there are also several regional surname listings that can be of further use to you. These two sources are a good way to find out if any research is currently—or has already been—conducted to establish your subject’s familial lineages.

You may also be able to have access to several published genealogies as well as books of pedigrees. These are already completed works in the field of genealogical research and you may uncover a small clue that will enable you to make a solid connection between the families covered in these documents to your own family.

Of course it would be very tempting to accept any cursory evidence of direct lineage to a famous historical person. Indeed many families are eager to latch on to the barest hint of evidence pointing to such bloodlines. Many people will even eagerly accept a link to a notorious historical figure or even a criminal in the hopes of adding some colour to what they believe to be a drab family tree! While the addition of such colourful ancestors do tend to liven up a seemingly ordinary family tree, you have to remember that these hints are often merely legends handed down from generation to generation and their veracity will have to be supported thoroughly by hard facts derived from solid research before it can become a legitimate part of your families lore. It would be in your best interests to treat these claims as conjecture at least until you have had ample time to research them thoroughly. You do not have to disregard them entirely, rather treat them as clues which can lead you into more verifiable paths of research.

Original Authors: Doods Pangburn
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 20/06/2008

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