The 7 Deadly Sins of Genealogy

We have all heard of the seven deadly sins, although likely not in relation to Family History. In no particular order they are: lust, greed, wrath, pride, gluttony, sloth, and envy. And in relation to genealogy, here is what they are (IMHO):

  1. Lust. “I’ll share with you, but only if you share with me.” “I want everything this archive has on my surnames.” “I don’t care if this is private property, my ancestor is buried here.” Remember to treat others as you would want to be treated. Deal with them kindly and with respect. Linked to this would be wording your own requests politely.
  2. Greed. Most people who ask for your help are related to you in some way. Please do not be the kind of cousin who refuses to share; let others learn from your research.
  3. Wrath. As with greed, there is always one cousin who resents anyone asking for family research help, and even expresses anger when asked. Maybe they feel that because they have put forth the time and effort to research and compile the information, you have to do the same. Don’t reply in kind; just tell the cousin you respect their time and efforts. And then let it go.
  4. Pride. If you dig deep enough, you will discover a famous (or sometimes infamous) person in your lineage. Just about everyone does. It’s exciting and fun. Having found it, though, get over it. By all means share; just don’t get to bragging too much about it. (Amusing, but true, story. If I could only prove my connection to the noble Cliffords, who were lords of the manor for Swindon, Gloucestershire, England, I would be able to trace my ancestry back to the Viking gods!)
  5. Gluttony. This is especially for those starting out in their research. And whether it’s gathering names from family trees on the internet that might be related to you, or going on and on interminably over what you have found, just stop. Both are sure signs of TM(G)I: Too Much (Genealogy) Information.
  6. Sloth. We all get lazy from time to time. Maybe we don’t cite our sources, or we put off that trip to the local cemetery, or we have a box of unfiled paperwork. Either way, remind yourself as to why you started on your family history, and jump right back in.
  7. Envy. While you may admire the research you see on-line, don’t allow that admiration to turn to envy. Genealogy is a never-ending pursuit. Accept it. The fact that somebody else may have a tree with 100,000 names or more does not mean it is accurate or well-documented. Do things your way, and develop your own skills and you will do just fine. While you may envy, in a nice way, someone’s research or writing abilities, don’t take it to the point where you are discontented with your own skills. You’re doing just fine.

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