Got Sources? Was Great Grandma Born There, Or Not?

Recently a great dialogue developed between a Facebook friend and myself. I hadn't realized she lived in the city where one of my great grandmothers was born, or so I thought...

Allow me share a bit of background ~

Several years ago I was given contact information from my (step) aunt, for one of my mother's cousins whom I had never met. She shared his researched family tree chart with me, which I promptly entered into my genealogy program. After this, I wanted to know what other bits of treasure my cousin might have to share.

He lived only a few hours from me so it wasn't long before a date was set when I could meet him and his wife. They lived in the most unique, wonderful house I have ever seen, which was very intriguing on it's own. My cousin's (first cousin once removed) wife was very sweet and included me in their lunch plans. I may not have given her much choice about that though as I was at their home for several hours.

At that time my cousin wasn't currently working with his genealogy, but had been active with it in the past. I was so thankful he willingly dug out his genealogy research box of our family. I spent most of the day scanning photos, writing notes and taking lots of pictures. It was an amazing experience. I remember being very impressed with my cousin's research and all of the information he shared. 

 Back when I received the copy of his family tree chart, I wasn't aware I should verify the information in it! I loved his work and trusted that it was complete and correct. So, when I entered his family information into my tree, I never thought to source the information. If only we had been informed we needed these habits upon starting this hobby...I'd venture to guess most of us learned this the hard way. 

I remember the visit with this cousin and his wife vividly, their unique house and welcoming personalities. I remember emailing with another person, not related, regarding this family line also. Early on in my research, I  was changing information in my tree as soon as I heard or saw something new, never adding a source. 

Back to the present day and time ~

Today, I look at my family tree not knowing when, where, or who I received the information from that my great grandmother was born in Bergen, Norway. It just says so in my tree.

As I shared earlier, a couple of weeks ago my Facebook friend who lives in Bergen, Norway and I were chatting. She did some research on my great grandmother and forwarded it to me. In the database, from a census report, she learned that my great grandmother was born in Skein, Norway, not Bergen at all! 

Now, I am not sure where I originally received the information that great grandma was born in Bergen. I remember a lot, but certainly not this particular thing. We can't possibly remember every little detail. I need to pull out this family's binder and try to make heads or tails of the information in it! I remember that I have worked with at least two other people in this line, but where there more? Did these people have the same information that I entered in my tree, or did I change things on a whim? What did I have stating great grandma was born in Skein? Right now, I really don't know. Until I pull all of the paperwork and sort through things I won't have a clue. Maybe even after that I won't have a clue, I don't know. I do know there will be a lot of wasted time resolving this. The sad thing is, more than likely I will run across more of these types of issues over time. At least I am working to fix them now and not another 10 years from now.

You may remember that this year I started my brand new family tree on Roots Magic. This tree is going to have every single thing in it sourced! I have not worked on this line in my new tree yet, but surmise that will be happening very soon. 

In Conclusion ~

If you are new to genealogy let this be a lesson, start now! Make sure you have done your homework and verified any and all information you have have entered into your genealogy program. Do you have back up for this information? Can you prove it? Have you sourced everything you have entered? I know it seems like a lot of work to you now if you haven't done this, but I highly recommend making sure this has been completed. You don't want to have to go back and re-research your tree several years from now. By then you would have added a substantial amount of new family members to your tree, and you could be looking at an awful lot of updating! 

You can purchase this pin and many other great items at the GeneaBloggers Store!

My Facebook friend, Siri in Bergen, I thank you so much! 

We became friends because of genealogy and have since found a couple of genealogical similarities. I have learned several new things about my family from her. She has shared a couple of amazing stories with me regarding her fabulous life. I love having been privy to learning about my new friend and am very grateful she took the time she did researching MY family!

This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as what I have learned. I will be sharing more in future posts.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Copyright © 2011 By Cheryl Palmer All Rights Reserved


  1. This story sounds so familiar. I think that is how we all start out.

  2. I enjoyed reading this post, and while I have always sourced my entries (BA in English), I change sources, or sometimes add to them, giving priority to primary documentation. If it starts out word-of-mouth, it's a tertiary source...if it's substantiated by something in writing after the fact, it's a secondary source, and if it's by an eye-witness, it's a primary source. I keep the prior sources as notes or comments on the entry.

    My goal is to eventually have primary sources for every person in my tree. It may take most of my life, and a bucket full of bills, but that's my goal.

    I hope to read more interesting situations on your blog in the future. Keep up the good research!

  3. Words of wisdom, Cheryl, and well said. Your friend in Bergen sounds like a real gem!

  4. I spent a great deal of this winter scanning and sourcing every document I have. You've given some great advice. Sourcing also helps when you have a relative who insists on something you are (reasonably) sure is wrong :)

  5. You are not alone. At least we all are starting to document as much as possible. Nothing my much loved grandmothers and aunts handed down to me had one single source. Not one.

  6. Cheryl,

    Thank you for my Beautiful Blog award! I also have Scandinaviaa bloodlines and my great grandparents were also not born in the "general" spot they mentioned time and time again....I am do thankful for the a great source for Norwegian records!!!!! My eyes are terrible and I cannot decipher any of them, but I have made many friends in the Scandinavian world! :) Sandy

  7. I'm learning the hard way, too. I am not proficient with citing sources but at least now I make notes as to where I found the information.

  8. Hi Jennifer!
    I agree with you. I don't think there are many who start out doing things perfectly.

    Hi Debra!
    So nice for you to have the head start!I am glad you enjoyed this post and I certainly hope you make your goals come true. I'll be paying attention! ;-)

    Hi Shelley,
    Thank you, I have been very lucky indeed finding new wonderful friends and relatives!

    Hi Sarah B!
    Don't you just love it when people think their information is correct, but you have proof saying otherwise? Sometimes you have to let them down gently though. :)

  9. Hi Susan,
    I suppose you should feel lucky you had some genealogy handed down to you! I started from scratch. It is great we are all doing our best to have our work as proper as possible.

    Hi Sandy,
    You are so welcome!We are both lucky to have friends to help us.

    Hi Debi,
    I am not proficient either, but I am doing my best! The more you do the better they get!


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