"Each has his own tree of ancestors, but at the top of all sits Probably Arboreal." - Robert Louis Stevenson

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Detective work 5. Trust your instincts

Instinct is a very important facet of genealogical research. I have often found that even before I can prove a theory I instinctively know that it’s correct. Or, I can see the plausibility of a theory, but yet somehow my gut is telling me that it’s just not right. This is particularly true when it comes to ordering birth, marriage and death certificates. Faced with three possibilities and no strong clues, how else do you decide where to start, other than to follow your instincts?
I think the thing to remember is that your instincts aren’t ‘psychic’ but rooted in your deep subconscious. If you have a strong feeling, it’s probably because it ‘fits’ with what you already know about your family, even if it’s not a tangible fact, but more the sense of identity you have. Perhaps some tiny memory of something someone once said or a picture you saw, even if we can’t pinpoint it now, is what is guiding you in these situations?
However, it’s equally important not to let your instincts override logic too much, because, of course they can be wrong. Make sure that each theory you come up with is backed up by good evidence before you build on it further. You just need to follow your instincts to find the evidence first, so once you get that ‘I just know I’m right’ feeling, get to work proving it!
L x

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