11 January 2017

Welcome, Genealogy Fans

I want to share methods and tips to help you fortify your family tree. My years in the business world have taught me the value of following "best practices." That's what I'd like all genealogists to do.

If we each create high-quality, verifiable, ultra-fortified family trees, maybe someday it will be possible to link everyone on earth in an incomprehensibly large family tree chart. Only then can people say they’re related to every king and celebrity ever known…albeit distantly.

To help you fortify your family tree and give you the confidence to stand behind your research, I’ll share several best practices and principles for producing a truly high-quality family tree.

  • Show us what you’ve found. Capture images of every genealogy document you find, and provide enough information to make your path to this discovery reproducible by other genealogists.
  • Explain your sources. There are several books available on proper citation of genealogical sources. I prefer to keep it simple (e.g., “1930 U.S. Census” or “U.S. Social Security Death Index”). Provide enough detail so any other genealogical researcher can find the same item for themselves.
  • Paint the entire picture. Completeness of records tells others that your information is accurate. Search every available Federal and state census for each family. Search military documentation for the men who were of age at the right time, ship manifests for every family member who traveled to another country, and birth, marriage and death records.
    Your ancestors were captured in documents throughout their lives.
    Your ancestors were captured in documents throughout their lives.

  • Be consistent. Develop patterns in the language and style you use so you are giving facts and documenting your images in a consistent, logical, sensible way. This consistency will create reliability.
  • Follow through. Develop a game plan that you can follow whenever you’re able to carve out some time for genealogy. Focusing on your plan will make you much more productive while fortifying your tree.

Join me as I detail these principles and practices and provide concrete examples that will increase the quality of your legacy—your family tree.


  1. Brand new here. And thank you for all the great information. I have 35+ years in compiling our family history starting with simple trees I made myself and graph paper to keep track of the 'math' part. I am a tree person, like to have that information spread out, easy to access for family ...with adult grandchildren and now g/grandchildren it's the best way to trigger interest in keeping this huge project going. I have wasted time and money on paid genealogy software that became so bogged down with instructions I gave them up. Stick with one public source, very credible and easy to manage. Going to include your blog link...again, thank you for what you are doing here...Victoria

  2. Hi DiAnn, Is there a way to email you without it being a public comment?

    1. Sure. You can write to me at diann@forthecousins.com.