Friday, December 9, 2011

Aim high...but not too high!

Just a quick thought (since I should be working right now).

Many of us have lofty goals in mind for our genealogy publishing career. I would love to be able to write a book about all the descendants of my research nemesis, David SCOTT, Sr. (1791-1866...seen him around anywhere???).

But there are two problems with that. First of all, the reality is that there are descendants being born every day, so I'll never keep up.

Secondly, I'll never have ALL the information about him. For crying out loud, I've been studying him for almost 40 years and still don't have his parents or siblings identified. Now, given the nature of our glorious pastime, that information could miraculously appear the next time I do a search (not likely, but possible).

Perhaps I would be much better off to define and fill out the individual blocks of the glorious mansion I want eventually to build. In other words, maybe I should write (and share) a research report on what I know about David himself—just him, not his children, not his spouse. Exhaust my notes for his data and then move on to someone else.

This became apparent a few days ago when I finally broke down and wrote to all the submitters of information for David’s father-in-law. I included a copy of his transcribed (and highlighted) will. I asked for help in providing sources for relationships that have been passed down for a long, long time, but for which I have not one single documentation. Maybe someone among the hundreds—yes, perhaps thousands—of descendants of this man might have that record. Maybe some of them have never seen his will.

So maybe it’s time for us to share what we know more generously and stop gloating that we were the ones to find the long-lost will or the little sliver of information that might turn someone else’s find into a meaningful clue...if we would only make it available to them.

Maybe that’s not a problem for anyone else but me. But I think I’m going to revise my approach to research and start working with more systems, however imperfect they might be, so I can collaborate with more people interested in the same people who have been bugging me for decades.

Perhaps if we all record and share a little more freely, we can expand the common knowledge (as well as eliminate some of the buggy information that has crept in along the way).

Here’s to recording and sharing!