Down the Rabbit Hole!

Time and time again, I attempt to get my personal genealogy organized.  I read books about How to Organize your Genealogy, I create spreadsheets, I buy organizers, and I make endless to-do lists. I make plans and goals like:  I shall work on the descendants of  so and so to complete x amount of profiles on my tree by such and such a date.  I don’t know about you, but I have a terrible time sticking to such concrete goals for my own family tree.

When new clues pop up such as a new DNA match, a new set of documents uploaded online, an email from a cousin with new information, a Gedmatch kit# to compare–what are you supposed to do?  Keep working away at the list?  No Way!  New clues are like being allowed to pick out a treat at the sweets shop.  They are exciting.  They can lead you anywhere.  And usually they do….right down the rabbit hole.

That is what we call it in the world of genealogy–falling down a rabbit hole.  When you explain to a colleague why you were up until 2 am the night before, you say, “I fell down a rabbit hole.”  Ah. that explains everything.

Picture This

You are purposefully working away on your Davis line– Adding children from the census records, going through your list of go-to places for additional sources, even uploading a photo or two.  But suddenly your email bings and since you need a break, you check it.  And what do you find, but an email from a possible DNA match from Gedmatch who wants to see how you are related.

You open a new tab and log in to Gedmatch to run a one-to-one search, double checking the match. Oooh. This person is a  fairly strong match!  They have given you a link to their tree.  You check it out, but you can’t find where your trees intersect.  So you go back to Gedmatch and upload the chromosome match  information into your mapping software.  This doesn’t tell you anything more. Bummer.

But wait!  While you have Gedmatch open, you decide to do a one-to-many search to see if you have any new matches since the last time you looked.  Sadly, you do not.  But since you have your mapping software open, you decide to upload a few more of your Gedmatch matches since you have been doing them one by one.

Okay, now you are tired of that.  The message from your new DNA cousin makes you wonder if you have any new matches on Ancestry.  You go to your DNA page there.  Sure enough, you have five new matches!  You have hit the mother load!  One by one you go through them to see if you connect.  The first one is obvious so you build their line from your most common ancestor (this is called descendancy work).  You go to the second match.  You have an idea where you might match, but this part of your tree needs work.  So you begin adding descendants trying to build until your trees intersect.

BUT!  While you are working on that you get an email from a colleague on WikiTree who needs help figuring out a DNA dilemma.   You love working with DNA so you stop what you are doing to help.

You get the idea.  This can go on for hours.  It is very much like the picture book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff.   Some days I have jumped from one project to another so many times that by the end of the day I have no idea how I ended up where I am.

Is this good genealogy research practices?  No not really.  I am much more methodical when working with clients, but when it comes to my own personal research, going down the rabbit hole and following one trail after another can be quite fun!

If you have problems organizing your research or you feel a bit scattered at times, let go of the guilt.  Remember, genealogy is about the adventure of the mystery and the chase for clues.  And if you find yourself falling down a rabbit hole or two, see where it takes you.  You never know.  You might even break down a brick wall while you are there.


{Why call it going down a rabbit hole?  Stop and imagine for a moment the endless and winding tunnels rabbits create underground.  Where do they all go?}

Photos on this post used with permission from Pixabay users: SimonaR and Clker-Free-Vector-Images

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