Few mysteries are as intriguing as those involving our pasts. Perhaps that’s why genealogy is such a fascinating pursuit—we’re trying to solve our families’ puzzles.
2. Critical thinking
4. A love of reading
5. Listening skills
Consistency is a good thing for genealogists. Take dates, for example. How many ways can you write your birthdate? July 25, 1950; 07/25/50; 25 July 1950; the twenty-fifth of July, nineteen hundred and fifty; 7.25.50; 19500725; 25/7/50. These are just a few possibilities. But sticking to a format for birth, death and other dates (genealogists usually use 25 July 1950) makes your research easier to understand.
Skepticism is one of those traits that defines your level as a researcher. As a beginner, you tend to believe what Great-aunt Edna always told you, even the bizarre stories: “Grandma lived to be 115 years old”—that sort of thing. After you progress a bit and search for records that back up family stories, you develop a little skepticism and learn to interpret Edna’s claim as “Grandma probably lived to be very old.”
Think expansively. Being able to see the “big picture” will help you find your ancestors. Your life is involved with groups of people. Even if you’re an only child, you’re probably part of a large family: your spouse’s relatives, ex-spouse’s relatives, first cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, grandmother’s second husband, etc. You may belong to labor organizations, business groups, religious bodies, trade unions, retired military associations, college fraternities or sororities, social clubs, softball teams, bowling leagues or Elvis fan clubs.
From the January 2012 issue of Family Tree Magazine
More great genealogy resources from Family Tree Magazine: