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Research Tips

By: Monica Primus

Fayetteville, North Carolina, USA

Source: Johns Family and Relatives 7/7/18

I have been doing family research for over 20 years and have been using Ancestry.com and Family Tree Maker (FTM) for almost as long so I have a couple of pointers I would like to share.

1. Do NOT use the tree of someone else as your source documentation. They may remove their tree and then you have no documentation of your facts.
2. Document and source your facts, otherwise it is just hearsay.
3. Create sources for personal sources (i.e. grandma told me blah blah blah – create a source using grandma). If you do not know how to do this in FTM then ask.
4. Label your photos with who and date (if known) information. There is nothing more aggravating than looking at a photo and wondering who is who and when was it taken. I now use a free program (PhotoScape) that allows me to add this info above or below the photo. I know it takes time but just think about the other people that are going to see the photo. They may not know what Uncle Joe looks like.
5. Do NOT use nicknames in photos or as the preferred name (in FTM). It is okay to add them so long as the given name of the person is also there.
6. Standardize place/location names. If you use FTM it is quite easy. (i.e. if you use Waterbury, New Haven County, Connecticut, USA as the location then all listings for Waterbury should match that otherwise it is considered a separate location.)
7. Make sure your sources match the facts you associate them with. 8. For those that have private trees that really do not want to be bothered, please change your settings so that you Exclude from Ancestry Search Index; that way it does not show up when people are doing their searches.
9. For those that have multiple trees with the same info on Ancestry.com: MERGE them and then get rid of the duplicates OR just get rid of the old ones. This will help you and others. I hope you find these tips helpful. 
*I am more than willing to assist anyone who asks.
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