In this second part of exploring the basics of previously compiled family research; I want to question the when and where of our fictitious grandmas research. This can affect the accuracy of what she has compiled and left for the family.
If grandma did her research fifty, forty or even thirty years ago, then she was limited to snail mail. She wrote tons of letters, hoping someone would write her back. She made dozens of phone calls trying to tap into the right person with the answers she needed. In the world of e-mail, text messaging, and unlimited long distance phone calls, what took her 30 years would now take a fraction of the time.
Then there are the new databases online. What took her years, now would take her minutes. When evaluating her past research, don’t be critical if you find errors in her work. Consider the time period she was working in and under what conditions. Her efforts cannot be compared to our efforts today. If she was researching before microfilm or photocopy machines; she is having to rely on someone else’s research.
Grandma did the best she could. Often her lack of sources or footnotes in her compiled family history is due to the times she lived. Even if she put “Correspondence to Ireland” as her source, then at least you know she was doing her best. If she put “Correspondence with Father Fahey in Saint Whatever Parish in County Cork, June 5, 1965” then this is traceable to the parish and you know the parish records did exist.
With the current technology, if you have to go back behind grandma’s research to document it, then so be it! You might find, she was more on the ball than you had thought. Then again…