Blind Spots in Genealogy Research

Many of our friends, maybe many of you, will be seeking out the total eclipse that will be passing over the US this month.  This got me thinking about shadows, which got me thinking about blind spots.

Genealogy blind spots.

What are genealogy blindspots? ¬†They are those things that make us miss what is right in front of us. ¬†In this case, I am talking about information – the information we look so hard for, the information we already have, but we miss it because it’s not jumping out at us and shouting “HEY, LOOK AT ME!”

Below I have listed some of my favorites – if by favorites you mean blind spots I “frequently fall victim too”.


OK, I know I am not the only one – if it is not online, I don’t have time for it.

We know better.  We know everything has not been digitized.  But there is so much that IS online, we focus on those sources instead of taking a field trip.

hannah thomsonIn the mid-1700s Hannah Thompson married Philip Brown in Salisbury, MA.  There is a chance that my brick wall was born there in the mid-1700s so I am interested in all things Thompson in that area.

MANY online sources for Salisbury will give me this information about Hannah Brown. ¬†Place, date…but when I visited the Family History Library and viewed the microfilm, and additional fact emerged – the original document indicates that MRS Hannah Thompson married Phillip Brown. ¬†A Hannah Palmer married Jacob Thompson a year earlier. ¬†The same Hannah? ¬†I don’t know, but it is certainly a clue worth following, a clue I would have missed if I hadn’t gotten offline.

Blindspot. Must learn to inconvenience myself once in a while.

Out of Context

If you have viewed one of my online webinars you have probably heard this story. I asked my cousin to remind me why we thought Daniel P Thompson of Woburn, MA was the son of David and Rachel Thompson of Guilford, NH, and neither one of us could remember.  Why had I put that fact in RootsMagic?

A YEAR LATER, I was entering some records into Evidentia, including a death record for Daniel, in the last column, was Daniel’s place of birth and the name of his parents – Guilford, NH, David, and Rachel. ¬†There was only one couple named David and Rachel in the small town of Guilford – I had my evidence! Birth information on a death record – who knew!

Blindspot.  Remember that a record may have more than one type of information on it.

Scroll Fatigue

fatugueSpeaking of “the last column”, sometimes I just get tired of scrolling. ¬†That should be a flag for me to take a break. ¬†Each record I look at, online or off, deserves my full attention. I work hard to find those records ( and them subscriptions ain’t cheap!). ¬†Once I find one, I need to focus, and if that means taking a break and coming back fresh, so be it!

Blindspot.  Take a break from scrolling!

Data Overload

overloadYes, I am referring to our friend, the census record.  There is SO MUCH information in them if we will just spend the time. We can get overwhelmed, and blind to the richness of the data.

BUT, (shameless pitch coming) Evidentia makes it easier to capture all the information that might be valuable, it is worth the effort. I can capture a family in a census record in about 20-30 minutes. ¬†I need to remind myself it is not a race, though. ¬†If a catalog the information in one “session” and tag the subjects in another, at least the first session let’s organize the information in a way that I am not overwhelmed.

Blindspot. ¬†They call it data mining for a reason – its work! ¬†But don’t get overwhelmed with information overload – find a way to organize the information so you don’t lose any of it.


What about you?  What are your genealogy blind spots? Do you have warning signs that tell you you might not be getting the most from your sources?  Please let us know in the comments below.

Until next time.

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