Thursday, September 01, 2011


I have a set routine when I work on my Ancestry family trees. As I add
each name I check for records of them on Ancestry and if they match
I add them to the person's profile. I also look over at
(I STILL liked Record Search better) and then cite any relevant images
 from there as sources back on Ancestry. I then download the images
to my computer as well as those from Ancestry.

We live in a wonderful age for genealogists. All sorts of document
images are appearing online and I've been happily partaking of the
feast. But late last night(alright, actually, earlier this morning) I was
working my way down a line of collateral families from my Houghton
ancestry when I stopped in mid process and asked myself a question:

Did I really want to download that marriage record for my 4th cousin
4x removed?

There was no question at all that I should make sure to record the information
and cite it as a source, but did I really need the image? It's not that I'm running
out of space on my hard drive; there's still plenty of that. But I'm now reaching
a point where I'll see an image's name on my computer and I have to think a
bit before I remember the connection because it's to one of a multitude of
collateral lines.

To be honest, it's not the first time I've asked myself that question and on more
than one occasion I've answered myself with a "No!". Then I worry that at
some future time I'll be contacted by a collateral branch relative looking for
help and I won't have that image at my fingertips ready to pass on to them.

I think I've discovered a new geneaddiction. Remember "name grabbing?"
Could there be an "image grabbing" equivalent?

So when do I "say when", that I don't need that image,.

When do you?


Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

Bill, when I look at collateral lines I go all the way back to the immigrant ancestor. Well, I look all the way back, because I usually tend to find a connection to another cousin or sibling somewhere along the way (New England records are like that!) If I don't, I mark down just the lineage for future reference, and stop downloading documents at about 3 or 4 generations. If the connection shows up later (like that distant cousin question you wrote about) I know where to find the information. Otherwise, my files would have a zillion people and documents!

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

It's an interesting question. I have the same problem. I find that I usually just save the documents to my tree. That way I have the notation for the record when I download my GEDCOM file, but I do not save the record. (Unless, of course, it is an unusual record to find!) If a distant relative contacts me, I can always reference Ancestry.

In Black and White: Cross-Cultural Genealogy said...

As a genealogist for a family reunion committee, I collected all sorts of collateral lines, some of which I still need to find connections to our personal tree. I collected the documents in print form and compiled binders for each family surname group; but, I only put them in my database if they had a direct connection to our tree. Since the area I am researching is geographically isolated, there are numerous interconnections, as Heather mentioned about New England ancestors.

Anonymous said...

I've asked myself the same thing. Over and over again. What I've started doing after reviewing the record image is to note the date and source location of it along with the information it provided, as well as if any of this information contradicts any I've found on other records or in family oral history.

And I do the same thing with the photos of gravestones I've taken for posting on Find a Grave or After I upload them to the websites, I delete the ones that are not members of my own family history, unless I am keeping a few of the images for their artistic value and posting on my cemetery blog.