FutureLearn Course: Researching Your Family Tree – Week Two

This week the course addressed ‘Effective Search Techniques’, without first addressing what we might be researching, or indeed why.

This began by advising the creation of a timeline of events, creating a family tree (the first time that this has been mentioned), looking at the information gathered with a critical eye, and considering gaps and inconsistencies.  Where there are inconsistencies, the course suggests, consider whether these arise from primary or secondary sources.

All very well and good, but what are these sources?  So far this has not been explained.

(At this point, Dear Reader, you have obviously sensed my mounting frustration with the course.  And I am not alone in this…)

After a quick canter through a technique apparently known as ‘FAN’ (‘Friends, Associates and Neighbours’) – which I’ve always known as ‘Cluster’ genealogy – mindmapping (okay if you like that sort of thing – personally it drives me wild, and I’ve never seen that this is any different from just jotting down a list of Things To Do) and DNA (which we will, apparently, look at in more detail in a later week), we turned to names, variation in spellings, and ways to search databases.

I still maintain that this course is back-to-front.  Week Three looks at ‘major sources types’.   Perhaps we might then discover where to start.

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Experienced genealogist but virgin blogger...
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