Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks on winning Super Bowl XLVIII. It was amazing execution on the field for the triumphant win! Seattle, enjoy your celebration today; I wish I could be there! Football is all about claiming the Lombardi trophy and statistics provide great feedback as to what happened on the field and how to approach the future.
Family history and genealogy similarly have stats we can review to orient ourselves to the game. Coupled with a research log, this feedback can help a researcher move the chains.
The most comprehensive statistic to calculate is how many ancestors you have found compared to how many are yet to be found in a certain number of generations. By dividing the total number of ancestors you have found by the sum of the total number of ancestors from the first generation to the target generation that you are interested in, you will find the percentage of ancestors found. This will give you an idea of how many more research opportunities you have before you. This can be humbling. Those who say it’s all been done are few indeed. Even if one has the essential identifiers of name, date, place, and relationship to an event, a researcher must look to see if the data has a source and then verify it.
For example, I went on Ancestry.com and found an interesting sourced tree in which I had great hope. It not only had complete vital information but the sources indicated the microfilm numbers by which the information was obtained. Nevertheless, when I pulled the film to verify the information none of it was correct! I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating, never trust an online tree. It may contain valid information and clues to further your research but always verify the information and its sources!
As far as statistics, I’ve always looked at completing nine generations simply because in the next generation there are 1,024 more ancestors to find and that can be overwhelming. Nevertheless, I never miss an opportunity to go beyond and add additional generations to my lineage when records are available. Remember, records become more scarce and incomplete as one moves back in time.
So, are you up to the challenge of finding the next generation of your ancestors and their families? In previous posts I’ve mentioned resources to get you started. This week I would like to recommend RootsTech 2014, the largest family history and genealogy conference in North America, which begins today with an Innovator Summit, formerly called Developer Day, and the Full-Access conference beginning tomorrow, February 6th, through Saturday, February 8th, at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah. Check out the website at RootsTech.org for pass comparisons and registration information.
Not in Salt Lake City? There is good news! The keynote presentations and specific sessions will be streamed live and available for later viewing at your convenience. Whether you are at RootsTech 2014 in person or view the conference virtually you will strengthen your offense by participating in this conference. There’s no doubt about it!
[FYI: Keynote and select presentations given at RootTech 2013 are still available for viewing for a limited time. Check out the sessions here.]
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