There are lots of options within this option, and obviously a lot of the functionality depends on what you’re using. My most recent methodology has been simply to try and make full use of the family tree builder on Ancestry.co.uk. I have always used this, but previously I used it mainly as a means to store the records rather than as my go-to for reference to my info. Having switched to it mostly for convenience, I’ve actually found it very good.
From a research point of view, it is great that it suggests records and allows you to connect to other members. However, I do think this engenders a kind of laziness in research which annoys me. I occasionally catch myself adding a census record without having really read it properly. this worries me – I might be missing crucial information, and I’m certainly losing the joy of the research by doing so. If you do this, then it just reverts to a list of names and dates with little meaning attached.
Also, in the last couple of years I’ve been making a conscious effort not to rely too much on other Ancestry members' info. I do worry that if that person has it all wrong, just accepting their info can basically spread an entirely made-up family tree that then become impossible to un-ravel. If I really am stuck, I might take their info, but then I will do my best to check it out and verify it. And all credit to other Ancestry members; when I have gone through this process I have usually found that their info checks out.
Essentially though, Ancestry (and I assume other software and websites) allow you to do a combination of the things I’ve talked about in this posting – Have a page per individual, easily see their family and how that fits together, hold all records and documents in one place, and see the entire family tree overview in one go. The pros and cons of its search and member functionality are a debate for another day. In terms of recording my own research, I have found it really works, and would absolutely recommend it.
On the other hand, I do fully intend to attempt to get a proper, personal system going too. Reading back over this blog, I think a combination of these techniques, properly used, could really do the job quite well. However, I am still open to suggestions. I’m sure there are ideas I haven’t considered that would really help.
I also note that there are a couple of relevant workshops at WDYTYA Live this year, which might be worth attending, if I do make it.
Next time: Why is extended family so important?