Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A good quandary

I have a quandary as to how to proceed with a friend of mine who is very excited about her new-found Swiss ancestry.

She knew that her grandfather was a missionary born in Switzerland, his approximate birth date, his spouse's name, but little else. I gave her the www.familysearch.org web site to search in hopes she could find several more generations.

On Sunday at church, she ran up to me after the service and gave me a big hug and kiss, just radiating happiness, and said "thank you so much for helping me - I found my grandfather's birth and marriage record, my great-parent's names and where they lived. And my great-great-grandfather's name too. But I think my great-great-grandfather was from Germany."

Needless to say, I encouraged her to keep looking, and that she should download Personal Ancestral File and put her family data into the database so that she could organize her data and write genealogy reports for her family.

Today, I went searching in the IGI and found 8 generations back from her grandfather in his surname, all in two parishes. I doubt that there is a German connection after 1600 or so, at least in her grandfather's surname. Perhaps there is in one of the collateral lines.

Some of these records are extracted church records and are probably reliable. Some are records from LDS member submissions - inherently unreliable, but there are several generations in some instances, with dates and places, so they must be based on some source.

I want to encourage her enthusiasm and curiosity - I don't want to tell her everything, I want her to discover it herself. She really needs to have some basic genealogy education so that she can broaden her search and perhaps prove the relationships found in the IGI.

So it's a "good quandary" - how much should I help her with this? When should I tell her to keep looking in the Swiss parishes and not go off on a wild goose chase in Germany?

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