Some ideas on making discoveries
My search for roots took a while - but they were where they have always been? This Irish-ism is what happens when you have family tales or legend that you know to be fundamentally true but you have to prove or disprove the case?
My tree was not discovered by the convention of working backwards, there was no realistic access to records and no one was sure exactly where to get them as the family had moved over generations. In that sense I was in a similar position to an orphan or adoptee?
My methodology described here for anyone interested in Crowes in Tipperary
Eventually, I worked to an original idea, supported by my grandmother, that although we knew Tipperary was a homeland in the last 150 years, we were sure that the small place of Glenanee was in there somewhere. She also reckoned on the surname variations too. Sure enough it was right but to prove it took a long time and after both my grandmother and my parents had passed away.
As many researchers will testify, there are many different ‘clues’ pulling us one way or another as we struggle to find or in my case, justify (prove if you like) the case we make for our trees; trees are not there to find but have to be recreated by humans, with all of our frailties and emotions pushing us around as well. As an ex-scientist and a seeker of truth, even I had to check myself on more than one occasion.
Sometimes there are no set directions because we are looking for the end
of the ball of string that has become hidden amongst all the other pieces
of string. Sometimes it is good to wander off the beaten track, try out
ideas and take a different view of things.
Do be organised unless you have a photographic memory – if you don't, at some point, you will be sorry you didn't make notes or organise your notes properly?
Never ignore an idea or a notion about something. A little like dreams, we have ideas for a reason. The idea may be a misconception but if you investigate it you will find out why you or the family had the idea.
Take all family information as gospel and write it down - regardless of your scepticism! Even victims of something unforgettable, like 9/11, can change their ideas about something as little as a year after the event. (ref Psych2go)
Family lore may be wrong and it may be deliberately misleading. Either because the giver of the story wants to make it look shiny or perhaps wants to keep something from you. It might be you they are protecting?
Apply Murphy’s Law to the fact that everything that can go wrong might go wrong in the life you are researching and in your own searching.
Disbelieve everything and be prepared to change a view or even change back a view that you hold. Be your own devils advocate, challenge your own opinions.
It is ok to be 70 percent confident about something! It can not always be 0 or 100 percent? Say so, if you are discussing your tree with another interested party? It helps the other party to talk about difficult issues? So many trees on the internet have obvious faults, some accidental but others are known and the owner is grandstanding.
Equally be tenacious about something (within reason) and investigate and learn about your subjects.
Be aware it is a powerfully emotional subject with sometimes unexpected consequences? Anyone watching, "Who Do You Think You Are?" will know but emotional events can happen to anyone?
See the Famine Graveyard story here for my own surprise moment
Don’t be too obsessional. Have a cup of tea or a glass of wine and take time to reflect on 'where you are at' with your tree. Enjoy the success and discoveries you have made not worry excessively about what you can’t find.
Enjoy the discovery process. Everyone diverges into side issues whether it be the social consequences, the history, the culture, self discovery......... I have met three people who wrote novels based on the discoveries of their ancestors. Maybe not best sellers but a real recreation of lives past, in one case of a mining community that was hidden by relatives as a shameful past of their now affluent lifestyle. For me it is meeting the people, curious, normal unassuming people with knowledge and experiences and chatting, I do like chatting!
As always discoveries are sometimes an indefinable blend of intuition, folklore, records and thinking laterally, making a 3D image of knowledge. Re-building not only families but social circumstances mixed with history takes time but the 3D image helps to tie in the loose bits of knowledge and form the reality. Usually we get facts and put some flesh on the bones but it can work in reverse too. Follow the notions and whims, the family folklore, sometimes getting knocked back in the process but it allows the different viewing angles that help us to look in the right places.
Lastly, I have often described many of my discoveries or ways to do things by what I call wandering – looking at side issues and working it back into my various directions of research. Unfortunately someone else coined the term first – this website by Amy Johnson Crow not related - explains the principles in more detail.
The very best of luck! Enjoy your research, enjoy the journey!
Seamus Crowe Website2021