Discovering Genealogy Trails

Genealogy Trails

Written by Alana Jolley

May 2, 2017

Discovering Genealogy Trails

Where Do Trails Lead?

Discovering Genealogy Trails of your ancestors is extremely important. Genealogy is the second most popular hobby in the United States; but the sad thing about this hobby is that many people are satisfied with only names, dates, and places, and accuracy is not always a focus.  Is there another purpose? Ask yourself, “Why am I doing genealogy research?” Is there a story to be told?  There is always a story; and culture is always part of every story (if we look closely).

Discovering Genealogy Trails is much more than names, dates, and places.  The refuse left along such trails is even more important, because things left behind tell a story.  It is really the story that is most important, isn’t it?  Where did your ancestors live?  What did they eat?  What did they do for a living?  Were they farmers or elites?  What religion did they practice?  What traditions have been passed down through generations? What successes or failures are to be found among the trails they traveled?  These are the stories that genealogy “newbies” do not often look for, and why more scientific methods of discovery are important – not just the simple pedigree line of inquiry.  Be sure to click on the highlighted green words to see their definitions.

Anthropology Methods

Using anthropology research methods is very effective in discovering ancestors’ stories, as well as writing their personal and cultural histories.  Anthropology research most often begins with a hypothesis, which eventually is proved or disproved; whereas genealogy research begins with a question.  Who are my parents?  Who were my grandparents?  Who were my great grandparents? Questions like am I Hispanic or Native American?  Did my ancestors come from Italy, as oral history tells? If I have completed a DNA assessment, what do my DNA results mean?  In other words, who am I?  We are all made up of different threads of DNA, but our whole self is made up of many cultural threads as well.  Through exhaustive research, these questions are answered positively or negatively, using the GPS System.

GPS commonly refers to the Global Positioning System of satellites, which makes it possible for us to find our geographic location, wherever in the world we may be.  However, in genealogy research, GPS refers to the Genealogical Proof Standard, highlighted and defined above.

Anthropology methods adds depth to genealogy research because anthropology methods searches for living arrangements, relies on extensive interviews, and collects vital statistics.  In addition to recording pedigrees, anthropology research methods focus on ancestral descent, successions of persons, and inheritances.

Anthropology research uses censuses, settlement patterns of populations, and relies on primary field research from scholars of many other genres.  One important anthropology concept is that genealogy is a cultural form; and in today’s world care must be taken to eliminate gender bias, which affects genealogical written records.  Ethnography is especially likely to have such bias if not carefully edited.  An article on this website explains more about Ethnography Methods.  It is also helpful to watch the Ethnography PPT Presentation.

Genealogy GPS system standards also applies to anthropology research except when anthropologist’s research covers time periods more distant than ancestral research.  In such cases, research may be ongoing over decades or even centuries; and the answers may change as new technology and/or cultural artifacts are discovered.

With ancestors, they are either yours or they are not yours, according to the GPS system described, and/or DNA analysis.  Once proven, they never change.

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