The Internet sure has simplified family detective work, but online clues don't always lead to ancestral truth. Follow these six steps to separate proven facts from faux pas and presumptions.
If Sherlock Holmes were a genealogist, Internet sleuthing could keep him really busy. Although ancestral clues abound on millions of family history Web sites, online roots research isn't exactly elementary: Finding the missing links to your past involves more than simply clicking to those clues. You still need to verify what you find online — even if Aunt Sophia's purported birth date sounds right or you're pretty sure Great-uncle Frank grew up in Detroit. Researchers of all experience levels publish on the Net, and errors do crop up. No genealogy gumshoe wants to trace the wrong ancestor because someone didn't get his facts straight. So how do you separate the good online data from the bad and the ugly? Follow these six steps to track down reliable information about your ancestors.
STEP I: Assess the data.