Top Scariest Things in Genealogy

There are plenty of things that scare me in life: the economy, politicians, the press…earwigs. This is the time of year we see all the horror shows coming on TV, people decorating their homes with various Halloween decor…none of which is that scarey.

I guess for a person who spends a lot of their time looking for dead people and hanging out in cemeteries, the thought of ghosts does not scare me much.  If one showed up, I would pull out a pad and pen and ask them for some help with their lineage.  

Zombies are again, just more dead people, vampires are technically undead, but again having been “alive” for so long, I still think they might be a good source of genealogical information… excuse me Edward – but do you recall the name of the woman you bit and what county she came from?

No, my idea of what is seriously scarey is slightly different and the terror is present year round. Here is what makes me scream:

1. Evidence unExplained! Going through my genealogy information from my early years I find notes and information written down with no source citation. ACK! Where on earth and all-that-is-terrifying did I get that information from? Going back and looking for a source citations decades after it was written down is truly, horribly terrifying! Cite your sources on even that scrap piece of paper you grab to record a conversation with Aunt Erma. You will not remember to do it later!

2. “For of all sad words of tongue or pen the saddest are these;
it might have been.” John Greenleaf Whittier  Not only is it sad, it is scary to not take the opportunity to talk with those who are living and have the keys to the past. How frightening to not cherish those we love today. We can remember the departed, but not at the expense of those who are living today.

3. I have begun organizing, purging, digitize and filing over 20 years of genealogy research – mainly because I am tired of the terror of not finding what I want, when I want it! Being organized can calm many a troubled heart.

4. One of the worst fears is having the internet or computer down for any period of time. What would I do with out my Pinterest (follow me at, my social network, my online resources? shudder…the horror is to great to contemplate!

I think I will stop at four, I am too freaked out to consider any more frightening things. Maybe I will go watch a horror movie to calm my nerves…


  1. Cute presentation and oh so true!

  2. My name is Jenna and I too have evidence UNexplained! Why do we do that to ourselves?? We know it’s going to haunt us later!! Great post Valerie, I agree all of those items are mighty scary!!

  3. Oh, Valerie, you are a hoot and I love your “so-true” comments about our fears. I have way too many paper files with no sourcing on them.:( (oh dear,oh dear,sob,sob) Way back when I was stupid it wasn’t important; I just wanted the facts without the proof. oh oh oh

    I am now the “old one” who has the stories to tell and I am trying to get on paper/computer but I so regret that I did not visit and listen to some of my great aunts when I had the chance.
    Thank you for this post. Will keep up with your blog from here on.

  4. Thanks everyone for the nice comments. Had fun writing this post, but unfortunately these things still scare me! lol

  5. What a fun post. You have a great sense of humor.

    I love your pinterest boards, especially the wedding images (which I wish I’d seen before our daughter’s wedding last Saturday) and your family history ideas. Fabulous! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Great post, sister. I love your sense of humor!

  7. “Evidence Unexplained…” OMG, I just snorted coffee through my nose!

    Next time, please put up a “NO COFFEE during this post warning!” 😉

    Great post, Valerie!

  8. I had to laugh at the broken computer sign… the only reason I got some filing done today is that the power was out for an hour…. Great post!

  9. I too have looked back recently at my early work and was terrified over the lack of source citations. If I had only known then….. Great post. Made me laugh!

  10. I think having Evidence unExplained is a curse that every genealogist has to endure. How else do learn? Glad you got a tickle from it, it was fun to put my horror stories in a different light.

  11. Valerie, I feel your pain. I came face-to-face with the horror of Evidence unExplained every time I looked at my data and said “hmm … I wonder how I know THAT.”

    I can proudly say that I (mostly) defeated that demon this weekend when I was digging through a box in my closet and found an old correspondence binder from 1985-1999 that held a plethora of sources. I spent the entire weekend entering citations, so at least now it’s not QUITE so scary.

    (Incidentally, I ran across a 1996 letter from a cousin who is also researching the family who said “ALWAYS write down where you got your information!” Must have skipped that part the first time I read it.)

    Great post!

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