Rules For Genealogy
1. Treat the brothers and sisters of your ancestors as equals …
even if some of them were in jail.
2. Death certificates are rarely filled in by the person who died.
3. When visiting a funeral home, wear old clothes, no make-up, and
look like you have about a week to live … the funeral director
will give you anything you ask if he thinks you may be a customer
4. The cemetery where your ancestor was buried does not have
perpetual care, has no office, is accessible only by a muddy road,
has snakes, tall grass, and lots of bugs … and many of the old
gravestones are in broken pieces, stacked in a corner under a pile
5. A Social Security form SS-5 is better than a birth certificate
because few people had anything to do with the information on their
own birth certificate.
6. The application for a death certificate you want insists that
you provide the maiden name of the deceased’s mother … which is
exactly what you don’t know and is the reason you are trying to get
the death certificate in the first place.
7. If you call Social Security and ask where to write for a birth
certificate, tell them it is for yourself … they won’t help you if
you say you want one for your
great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather who died in 1642.
8. When you contact the state vital statistics office in your home
state and ask if they are “on-line” and they respond, “on what?,”
you may have a problem.
9. A census record showing all twelve children in a family proves
only that your ancestors did not believe in birth control.
10. Work from the known to the unknown. In other words, just because
your name is Washington doesn’t mean you are related to George.
11. With any luck, some of the people in your family could read and
write … and may have left something written about themselves.
12. It ain’t history until it’s written down. (See #19)
13. A genealogist needs to be a detective. Just give me the facts,
14. Always interview brothers and sisters together in the same room.
Since they can’t agree on anything about the family tree, it makes
for great fun to see who throws the first punch.
15. The genealogy book you just found out about went out of print last
16. A good genealogical event is learning that your parents were
17. Finding the place a person lived may lead to finding that person’s
18. It’s really quite simple. First you start with yourself, then your
parents, then your grandparents … then you QUIT … and start
teaching classes in genealogy.
19. If it’s not written down, it ain’t history yet. (See #12)
20. In spite of MTV, computer games, and skate boards, there’s always a
chance that your grandchildren will learn how to read someday.
21. “To understand the living, you have to commune with the dead, but
don’t commune with the dead so long that you forget that you are