When you’re doing genealogy research, it’s easy to stumble on facts you’re not looking for. Let’s say you’re researching your great grandfather. Ancestry gives you all sorts of information about his brother. Do you take the time to carefully document the information on the brother?
This isn’t exactly hypothetical. This happened to me this morning. Five years ago, I would have skipped that information and kept my focus on my great grandfather. Now I know better.
After about ten years of genealogy research, there’s one thing I’m pretty sure about.
Every documented fact is relevant. Or might be some day.
Why should I bother to document the marriage certificate and draft registrations for Garry Jeffries (brother of my great grandfather James E. Jeffries)? Here are a few reasons that pop to mind:
- I get a clearer picture of my family.
- I might be able to help one of his descendants, a cousin of mine, one day by including this information in my family tree.
- Down the road I may learn something about the relationship between my great grandfather and his brothers and this information might help connect the dots.
- As commenter Marcia Philbrick said, “Those brothers, sisters and their descendants may be the clue to break through brick walls.” (Thank you, Marcia!)
I’m sure that’s just the beginning. Basically, I’ve come to the conclusion that since I can’t see what puzzle pieces I’m going to need in the future, it benefits me to take the time to record and download all the documents I come across, even if they’re not for my direct line ancestors. (Here’s how I process that information.) It can feel tedious and also feel like it’s taking me away from my “real” research. But I think it’s worth it.
After all, genealogy research is a marathon, not a sprint.