13 January 2012

Irvine’s Genealogy Laws

Have you heard of Irvine’s Genealogy Laws, all ten of them? Here are the first five:

  • Useful information declines by the square of the distance from the source.
  • The scope or extent of a search, in terms of date range and geographic area, varies inversely with the commonness of the name.
  • Skepticism is the root of all good research.
  • The history of a record is as important as its contents.
  • What is a genealogist without sources?
Read the other five, as well as information on recommended resources, at: http://www.pharostutors.com/freegenealogyhelp.php

Do you know of others genealogy rules? Please share in the comments.


Roger R. said...

I am relatively new to this hobby and enjoyed reading the Genealogy laws. I especially liked the website and i think i could use some of their "general" genealogy resources. However, my heritage goes back to France. Are you aware of an equivalebnt site that may have "French" resources?

Roger Robineau

Persephone said...

Here are a dozen my own rules, created by making every mistake in the book:

1. There is no such thing as an insignificant relative. (Even the child who died in less than a day pinpoints where your family was.)

2. Family history is nothing without family geography.

3. Never take anyone's word for it. Check the data and source yourself. (Why would you want a family tree filled with someone else's ancestors?)

4. Failing to enter the information yourself will not save you time in the long-run.

5. No sharing information about living people without their permission.

6. Always ask permission before sharing photos.

7. Speculation may not be research, but you have to start somewhere!

8. Sometimes you will have to delete hours of lovingly compiled research and data when the document comes in that changes everything. Be ready to do this. (Again, why would you want a tree with ancestors that aren't related to you?)

9. Give thanks, acknowledgment and credit. (It will force you to keep track of your sources, for one thing.)

10. Be grateful for questions, and even challenges from other researchers. It's an excuse to double-check your research. See #11. (And be extra-gentle and compassionate with beginners.)

11. There will always be mistakes, no matter how careful and thorough you are. And I could always be wrong... (Repeat this daily.)

12. You don't get the big stuff without piles of little stuff that seemed massively unimportant at the time. (See #1.)