Someone came to JLog awhile back wondering if there are any ‘rules of genealogy’. They didn’t spell genealogy right but I’m sure that’s what they meant.
If you’ve seen some of the trees online you might wish more people would ask that question.
I’m trying to get inside the head of that person. Did they wake up in the morning thinking, Are there any rules to genealogy? Or did they think, I’m interested in genealogy, maybe I should find out first if there are any rules or do I just get to do what I want to? Do they think it’s a video game with a short 1., 2., 3., rules list before they hit the Start button? Help me, people.
The exact way they phrased their question landed them on The Genealogy Police (#2 search result out of 8,000,000). But I kind of like that other post where I was trying to terrify newbies about source citations.
Because we have Google now I looked up ‘rules of genealogy’. Only 16.3 million search results. That’s a few people talking about rules. I don’t want to read any of them because they might change my bias. You can if you want to and probably should.
When I ‘started’ (and when was that anyway? the first question? the first photograph?) no-one told me anything about rules. Natural curiosity took its course. And when I read people being worried about who’s going to inherit all this work after they die it makes me wonder something. Did everyone start out in this very serious vein, or was there ever a fun and innocent part to it?
The sheer joy of … (something)?
Or do a lot of people get up in the morning thinking, I have a few spare minutes in my life, I think I need a new job. Huh, genealogy sounds like a good one. I’d better get out there and start studying all the Rules of Genealogy.
I’m not talking about the professionals. I’m just talking about us more regular folk if there’s any of us left.
A long time ago, when my father was still living, he gave me a photo of my great-grandaunt, Amelia. I’m really grateful to my father for doing that because The Mystery of Amelia was almost too much to bear. They called her Miel (pronounced ‘meal’). Maybe because her sister-in-law was Amalia and it got too confusing.
Miel was the first bona fide ancestor I ever met as a child that I never actually saw. She died one year after I was born and by the time I was asking ‘Who’s Miel?’ the only answer I ever got was, “Miel died.” For years that’s all I knew about her. She died.
Years later, (it’s a good thing we know what patience means) when I was old enough to understand what it meant, I was told she had ‘a great sense of humour’.
And then later, confirmed through census records, that she was married twice, the first time to a man who owned a hotel. Still haven’t found out what happened to him.
Cuz sent an email late last night and said she’d hit the gold mine in her research and had identified two of our previously unidentified photographs. That’s amazing! She’s like a dog after a rabbit. It just never stops being a thrill.
Do I get out my genealogy regulations and write back, Did you do such and such and so and so? No. I take her at her word and wait until she sends more detail.
If I was pushed to the wall I think I’d say the only rule of genealogy is to find the part of it that’s enjoyable to you and don’t sweat the rest. God knows we don’t have time to do it ALL.
If you had to, what would you say about genealogy rules? What are yours?