Carol Sanderson, Editor
Charles Hansen, Technical Advisor
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The other day I read an article in Rootsweb Review where one lady was going to stop doing look-ups for others as nobody had even said Thank You for the help they had received. Over the years, I have heard others express the same sentiment and that is too bad. I do a lot of look-ups and do get a lot of wonderful expressions of Thank You. I guess I have not run into people that are not appreciative of my help.
Most people doing look-ups are volunteers and do them in their spare time. Don't expect them to find your information the same day you post your query. I know you are excited and hope to find a hole in your brick wall, but wait a few days for the volunteer to access the records. Try to help the them by giving an approximate date to search, and let them know if it is a guess.
If you are going to phone the volunteer check to see what time it is. I read about a volunteer getting a call at 2:30 in the morning from an excited genealogist. Remember volunteers néed to sleep too.
Courthouse courtesy means, among other things, knowing the hours the courthouse is open. Do not arrive five minutes before closing to check the indexes or look through the archived records. Most of the staff have other jobs to do so don't expect them to drop what they are doing just to help you. They are probably not genealogists either, so they could care less that your Aunt Minnie's ancestors came over on the Mayflower. Handle all the old records carefully, then they will be available for the next genealogist, and hopefully the staff will not dread seeing another genealogist.
Libraries and archives require courtesy similar to the courthouse, know when they are open, and don't bore the staff with 15 generations of your pedigree chart. Find out if they have volunteer genealogist that can help you. Our genealogy society has volunteers in the library Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays to help others. Check the internet to see what resources the library or archives has. In other words be prepared.
Besides thanking the staff and look-up volunteers, what can you do to give thanks to those that have extracted data, printed the data in books, posted it on the internet, and indexed the sites so you can find your ancestors? Join your local genealogical society, and maybe you can extract records also. Check with your GenWeb administrator, as they always néed volunteers to digitize records, work on the web site, answer queries, etc. Volunteer at the library, the local archives. Keep an eye on the government so they do not close the libraries, archives or courthouses because of identity theft or budget cuts. Protect the records so 100 years from now the records will still be searchable, not locked away on an unreadable disk that is not used anymore. So let us be mindful of those who have helped us and remember toTHANK them.
We all use the Internet for one thing or another. Some just like to surf and see where they can go. Then there are those who use it for information. Genealogists, with computers, are in that group.
There has been a lot of discussion and questions about how good the information we find is. One of the answers was that it is as good as its documentation. If there is no documentation then be very wary of it. Use it as a guidepost to where you think you néed to go. Once you have been able to document what you have found if there is no docimentation with it, use it, but in order to help others and in order to try to keep what we are seeking free from flaws add your documentation.
Errors seem to want to stay and take over. Several years ago someone sent me a listing of one of my lines. It included my parents and grandparents. There were blatant errors in it that were there because she hadn't bothered to check the documentation. if there was any where she found it. I sent her corrections with the documentation but even several years after that the misinformation was still in the public eye on the Internet.
I have heard some people say that one should try to document your data with at least three items to prove it correct. Of course the more that you have that are all in agreement then you are fine. If you find a couple of items and they don't agree then you have more work to do to prove that one of them is correct.
There is a lot of information on the Internet and a lot of it is good and is documented. However, if you are not aware of the source as a good one check it out.
The Internet is a marvelous place to find information about your ancestors. There are databases...some that you néed to pay to use such as Ancestry.com and yet there are others that are free for the using. Rootsweb and GenWeb are two of the latter type. Be aware of what you are looking at and then go to it. Use this most wonderful tool and enjoy your searches.