There are several common genealogy myths that you are very likely to have heard. Understanding these myths will help you to be more accurate and thorough when you are completing your own genealogy research. At Heritage Consulting, we are passionate about providing you with the resources and guidance you need to effectively undertake a genealogy research project. Here are a few common genealogy myths that you should be aware of.
Surnames were Changed at Ellis Island
Many people have heard the rumor that the officials at Ellis Island frequently changed the surnames of immigrants to “Americanize” them. However, it was not actually the officials at the island that changed the names. These officials simply compared notes when processing these files. The immigrants themselves were the ones that changed their surnames to blend in or to make it easier for their friends and coworkers to pronounce their names. It is also important to keep in mind that the spelling of surnames may have changed over time, as well. So a minor difference in spelling may not mean that the person you are researching is not your ancestor.
All Genealogy Records are Available Online
The internet is quickly becoming an essential resource for your genealogy project. However, many people are under the misconception that all genealogy records will be available online. Only a fraction of existing genealogy records are available on the internet. When you are completing a genealogy project, you may need to visit physical locations to gain access to physical records that are not yet available online.
Online Trees are Always Accurate
It is easy to check a relative’s online tree and assume that everything is accurate. However, these online trees aren’t independently fact checked. They may be inaccurate due to incomplete research or mistakes. While these online trees can be a great place to start, it is often beneficial to do your research independently and fact check your relative’s trees for yourself.
The Same Last Name Means you’re Related
Many people assume that having the same last name as someone else automatically means you’re related. This is largely due to the desire to find some ancestral connection to celebrities or famous people in history. However, having the same surname does not automatically mean you’re related.
You Don’t Need to Cite Sources
It is common to believe that citing sources only has to be done by professional genealogists. However, when you spend time citing your sources, you will be able to ensure that you are getting accurate information. If you want the true story of your family’s history, it is extremely important to cite your sources.
Your Ancestors Were Much Shorter
One common belief is that your ancestors were much shorter than you are today. This misconception is often due to the prevalence of lower ceilings, smaller doorways, and other smaller factors of older homes. However, height hasn’t really changed dramatically over time. Average heights have only really changed by a matter of inches. The smaller fixtures were due to architectural differences, not the size of the occupants.
These common genealogy myths can hinder your research if you are unaware of them. If you are having difficulty with your genealogy project, we offer a broad array of services to help you. To learn more about common genealogy myths to be aware of or the genealogy services that we can provide, contact us at Heritage Consulting today!