Everyone makes mistake! And a mistake while you’re researching your family just helps you move up to that genealogy learning curve. Here are some of the most common mistakes we all make to help prevent as many as possible in your journey of discovery.

Never Forget to Record Information on Family History Workbook
Organization is the key when researching your family history. Get hold of this standard ‘Workbook’ or Pedigree flow chart form and keep it in one place. Not only will this help you, but it will help future generations to carry on your work.

Never Ignore Your Ancestors’ Siblings
Don’t narrow your search too much. Siblings can be incredibly valuable in unlocking important family clues. When looking at a census, for example you might find the parents of an ancestor living with one of their other children, which will mean you getting the names of the parents, and potentially a new location. Researching sibling could lead to a previously unknown relative who is also doing a research on the family. Paying attention to the names of all the siblings in a household will also help confirm that you have the right family, especially if one of the members has an unusual first name. If you can see all the names you expect to see in a household as you go back through the census years, it’s likely you are following the right family.

Never Overlook the Maiden Names of Female Ancestors
It’s easy to think of our female ancestors by their married names, enter the information, and then ignore their birth names. Birth names can provide a valuable clue for future research since some families use the mother’s maiden name as a middle name for the oldest male child, for instance. This information could help identify the correct male ancestor when there are two or more candidates in the place and time.

Never Assume You Are Related to a Famous Person
It is tempting for people with name such as Azikiwe, Awolowo or Aminu to assume they are related to a famous person with the same name. Then, based upon that assumption, they try to work from the famous person to themselves. This is not a good research approach. Always start from yourself and work backwards, proving the connection between each generation. Then, if you prove you are related to Okotiebor or Dick Tiger, you’ll have something to brag about!

Never Skip A Generation
In lots of families, it’s common to have same name running through three or more generations of male ancestors. This can easily trip you up if you’re not methodical, leading you to list someone as the father when he is the grandfather. Record as many dates as possible and carefully evaluate things like place names to avoid this happening.

Never Assume a Family Name Is Spelt Only One Way
Family names can be spelt in number of different ways as our ancestors (and the people who recorded their events) were fallible! Kalu can be Kanu, Udensi can Udonsi, and Jesse can be Jessie or Jessy and so on. Make sure you check all the phonetic variations of your name just in case- although this is time consuming the results could make it all worthwhile.

Never Jump to Conclusions
Genealogy is all about proof. Start your research with yourself and work backwards, one generation at a time. The key to success is to prove conclusively the link between the generations, and you can only reach a conclusion if you have enough evidence. Reaching a conclusion based upon incomplete evidence can throw your whole family tree out. If you are sure about a connection, make up your theory first, and then try to prove that theory- but don’t assume it as fact! Whenever you find a record that possibly matches a person you are looking for, you can put it in your back-file and this may be helpful in future.
Never Research the Wrong Family
This can happen so easily. If you jump to conclusions as in number 7 case, you can set off in completely wrong direction and end up researching many generations of the wrong family. Do not start working on the next generation unless you have concrete proof of a link. You should be wary of the information you can rely on. Even the smallest piece of incorrect information could infect a huge number of your works. Always approach an unfamiliar source cautiously: just because you have found the information does not make it accurate.

Never Fail to Document Your Sources.
The biggest mistake you can ever make is not documenting where you found your information. Remember that your research is only part of a much larger body of information. We owe it to future generations to be accurate so that we don’t set off a chain of events that could mean someone out there is jumping to conclusion as in (never no. 7) or researching the wrong family entirely as in (never no. 8). See your research as your heritage, and your story!