The Gathering Process Online Part I - Beginning Hints

3/13/2016 05:19:00 PM

One way that many genealogists research is through use of the internet. Instead of writing into historical and genealogical societies and waiting weeks or months for a reply, we can find much that we seek at the click of a button. But remember, most of the genealogical information out there still isn't on the internet. And often that which is on the internet displayed in other users family trees is not verified.

© Summer Owens

Take much of the genealogical information you find with a big helping of salt!


 Too often, new genealogists copy other peoples family trees, assuming the information must be correct. Then other genealogists do the same thing and a whole cycle of unverified or potentially incorrect information circulates. 

It is awesome to find other family trees that share some of your ancestors and jot down information from them. That info might even be right and it certainly gives you a place to start. But if you can't find source material for it then don't fully trust it!,, and are just a few sites where others family trees are readily available and from which you may glean some valuable information, but always try to find concrete proof for the names, dates, stories, etc. that are in them.


The internet is not lacking in fabulous genealogical information. Scores of websites far and beyond the three mentioned above have all sorts of records that have been referenced, transcribed, indexed, and/or digitized. There is much that you can find online that will give you concrete proof and more information is always being added. However, finding exactly what you're looking for means knowing where and how to look, and that's assuming of course, that the information you seek is even online.

© Summer Owens


If you've done any amount of indexing you probably know that it's not always easy to read someone else's writing, especially as the records get older and some alphabet symbols were different further back. It is very easy in old cursive for transcribers to mistake certain letters such as K and R, S and G, T and F, N and R, and more. 

Sometimes you will not be able to find records you seek because the name you're looking for may have been transcribed incorrectly. For example the surname Moor might have been read as Moon. It's also possible that a name you are looking for was spelled many different ways. My 9th great grandfather was Philip Teneley. During the course of my research on him I found his surname spelled all of the following different ways: Teneley, Tennely, Tenanly, Tenantly, Tennerly, Tennelly, Tennelley, Tenally, Tenaley, Tenley, Tinnely and Tinnerly. 

Luckily, most genealogical search engines are set to perform soundex searches which search for spelling variations that are similar to the name you've spelled. However if someone read my ancestors name as Philip Feneley, that transcription would not appear under a search for Teneley.