Lesson 1: The Big Five
I know. Who can get excited about Standards of Proof? Only anyone who wants to avoid the disappointment of false starts, wasted effort, and common fledgling mistakes.
After months of work, there is nothing more disheartening than discovering that your results are in question. Consider the lady who took a round trip to Scotland to visit the town of her ancestors, only to realize on her return that she had visited the wrong town — or the two fellows who enjoyed a long relationship as distant cousins; after many years they discovered they were not related at all. They’re still friends, so it worked out okay. Even so, one can imagine the upset.
Even I have experienced this issue; once after toiling for ages with a very frustrating brick wall, another genealogist presented me with what I thought might have been a breakthrough. When I contacted him, however, I found that I was his source of information on the issue — even though my website clearly states that the evidence for the individual in question is unproven.
Unfortunately discovering that all of one’s long hours are wasted, and that now one needs to start again, is a situation that many a beginning genealogists will face. Why? Only because they did not know the Big 5 Basic Guidelines of the Genealogical Proof Standards. Not knowing that some sources may contain errors, and that not all research — either in print or online — is credible and factual, can be a costly and time-consuming mistake.