The second lesson in the National Genealogical Society’s Home Study Course is about Family Traditions and Family Records. We all know that, in genealogy, we should start at the present and work backward. Starting with the present includes identifying the records that can be found in one’s home and also evaluating the family stories that we have been told throughout the years.
Evaluating Family Stories
There is nothing unusual about evaluating family stories. The key is that we don’t accept stories at face value; we go through essentially the same process that we use to evaluate any other potential source. I would even go so far as to say we should try to disprove family stories. That would keep us from trying to force the evidence we find into supporting the story. If we use sound genealogical practices and can’t disprove the story, then we should be left with an accurate tradition.
The second part of the lesson was about locating family papers. Now, I’ve been doing genealogy for several years, so I’ve accumulated a lot of records – and far more papers than I would like – , but for the purpose of the assignment, I tried to hone in on those records that were given to me by family members or that I might have obtained in the normal course of things. The assignment was to list each record, including its provenance and the genealogical information and clues contained.
Check back tomorrow and the next day to see how I approached these assignments.