I've noticed something over the past 6 months as I've been blogging about family history and helping people start theirs.
Most of you don't see the value in building your tree. And I'm not talking about a tree house!
I was where you were last year. I gathered documents from family, searched for more and plugged in new information as I found it. The process was slow and ofttimes unfruitful.
Then I bought a subscription to Ancestry.com. But I STILL resisted building a tree! I would login and pull up the search screen, enter names, dates and locations and press "search". I can't express clearly enough the frustration I'd feel when people I KNEW were somewhere in the system failed to show up in the search!
I almost gave up and threw in the towel thinking I had very difficult lines to trace.
But one day I was playing with some of the tools there and figured, "Why not start a family tree? At least it'll be there for me to add to as I get more info," It took about 10 minutes to add my name and info, what I could remember of my parents and grandparents, and some bits and pieces of their parents, aunts and uncles. I didn't want to get all of my records out, so I did it from memory.
Then the little green leaves started popping up near their names! I didn't know what they were doing there but I clicked on them and was pleasantly surprised. The system had taken the data I'd entered and searched for possible record matches that I could then review and research to see if they fit that person. If they matched I could add the record, if not I could ignore it and move on.
Whenever I get stuck in my research I start looking at aunts, uncles, siblings and children of my direct-line ancestors. I research THEIR documents for clues about the one I'm researching or trying to find.
Stop resisting building a tree on Ancestry.com or any other site you're using that has the tools to help you find documents! And if you visit my account you'll see how many trees have been started by me or other people who use my account.
Even if you only use it once in a while, it's better than going it alone. Email me and I'll send you the login info. If you're new at family history the best thing you can do to get jump-started is to build a tree.