Five Reasons You Should Collaborate with Other Genealogists

Five Reasons You Should Collaborate with Other Genealogists

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Genealogy is a lonely sport.  You spent hours at a computer searching a database for a single relative who lived a hundred years ago.  You sit in some musty, dusty room in the back of a library going through roll after roll of microfilm hoping to find at least one obituary.  And, then when you find that long lost document, it is just you.  Wouldn’t it be great if there was someone you could share with?

One of the pleasures of genealogy, especially in the internet age, is the ability to collaborate with others.  What?  You aren’t collaborating with other genealogists?  Let me give you five reasons why you should collaborate with other genealogists:

  1.  You miss out on having someone to work on genealogy problems with you when you aren’t collaborating.  Two heads are better than one.  Sometimes a fresh research perspective is all that is needed to solve a brick wall.
  2.  When you work with others, you have someone to bounce your hypothesis off of.  I spend a great deal of time contemplating the “what ifs”.  What if great grandfather was married before he married my great grandmother?  What if that child in the photo is one I wasn’t aware of for this couple?  What if Albert in the census is really Bertha?  We need others to mull these things over and poke holes in them.  Genealogy is about proving things, but it is also about disproving them.
  3. If you aren’t collaborating with other genealogists, you are missing out on finding new cousins.  Sure, we all want to find dead people.  That’s what genealogy is about.  But, finding new cousins who share your DNA and who can add to what you know about your family history is a wonderful thing.  And, you know what?  Those new cousins have photos you’ve never seen.  Now, that is something to think about!

    Sharing makes genealogy more fun
    Sharing genealogy is more fun! (Source:
  4. If you aren’t working with others, you miss the opportunity to learn new ways to research.  We often go about things in the same way.  When you work with other genealogists, you learn different ways to research.  You also learn about resources that you didn’t know were available.  I know a heck of a lot about Hawaii, but very little about Massachusetts.  I’ve learned so much from a Massachusetts cousin who is working on the family from that end. I find out about records I did not know existed.
  5. This is the biggee.  When you collaborate with other genealogists, you have someone who will share the thrill of the hunt and get excited over your discoveries.  Let’s face it.  Most of our family members have barely a passing interest in our family history endeavors. To be able to share discoveries with someone who is just as interested as you are is priceless.  Only certain people will get excited over the fact that you just found your great great aunt in the 1930 census which means she didn’t die after all.  Okay, she eventually died.  Just not when you thought.

In the summer of 2015 I spent quite a bit of time working with a cousin on our joint Azorean lines.  The work we’ve done has move our tree from Hawaii and Massachusetts to Canada.  If she hadn’t reached out to me, I wouldn’t even know that their were cousins in Massachusetts.  Without collaboration, neither of us would have expanded our trees to multiple states, multiple migrations, and multiple countries.

I know that a lot of genealogists hold their research and findings close to the vest.  Personally, I prefer the “throw it out there and see who sniffs” method.  I’ve gotten great pleasure collaborating with others.  Don’t cheat yourself out of that same joy.  I really mean this.  If you aren’t collaborating with other genealogist, you really are missing out on the fun!

7 thoughts on “Five Reasons You Should Collaborate with Other Genealogists

  1. I noticed you have knowledge about Hawaii , boy could I use some help with that ! My family are the Robinsons and my knowledge of their life there is limited . I do have an invitation from the last Hawaiian Queen to my great grandfather, Thomas Richard Robinson . I have been told that the family was of some importance in the islands, but nothing really concrete.
    If can give me any help, it would be very welcome.

  2. Gail, Thanks for your comments! I am wondering if Thomas Richard Robinson is of the Robinson family that ran the Gay and Robinson Sugar Plantation on Kauai? They owned a considerable amount of land at the turn of the century and the family was connected.

    If you can post more details about Thomas Richard Robinson’s parents, wife, siblings, and what research you have done so far, I might be able to point out some avenues of research. If it is the same family, they are no doubt, included in the histories of Kauai.

  3. Thank for your reply Melody. My search is very tangled in that I have many clues, but they don’t get me past my brickwall .
    Other than following my great grandfather’s life, I am trying to find his father, Henry Robinson 1809 IOM – 1886 Liverpool, his father- Thomas’s grandfather. I know Henry was a bookkeeper, as was Thomas, as was his son-my grandfather, Richard Philip. I have proof of who Henry’s uncle was, John Robinson 1763 Liverpool – 1839 IOM (who was well known on IOM), but no knowledge of who his father was ?
    My question is why did these three Robinsons go to Hawaii, half a world apart ? It would seem logical that there could have been other Robinson relatives already there ? I think Thomas Richard was employed by Theo H Davis as a bookkeeper in 1890 – as to the sugar plantation ? – maybe relatives ?
    my 2nd great grandparents – Henry Robinson and Catherine Curphey 1813-1882
    my great grandparents – Thomas Richard 1852 Lancashire-1925 Honolulu and Marian Rigby 1853 Lanc.- 1886 (childbirth)Lanc.
    known siblings – Catherine L. 1882-1949 Henry Maxwell 1885 -unable to trace Richard Philip 1886-1947
    Possibly – Violet Robinson maybe more?
    There is more confirmed information, but even to me this is a lot ? If you think of how I can start researching, I would be so happy!

  4. Thanks for suggesting collaboration. I’m just feeling my way along in the genealogy world and could use the help of someone who knows what they’re doing. I’ll work harder at forging relationships.

    Most of all, as you say, it would be fun just to have someone who gets as excited as I do when I finally find proof that a suspected ancestor really is my great-great-great grandmother.

  5. Gail, I’ll have to look into these names more. However, I was curious if you knew about the Hawaiian State Archives website. They are slowly putting records online. I happened to be looking through the land records and found mention of Henry Robinson. Here is the link to the land records for Robinson. These aren’t actual records but transcribed notes from records.—0landinde–00-1–0-10-0—0—0prompt-10—4——-0-1l–11-en-2000—100-about—00-3-1-00-0011-1-0utfZz-8-00&a=d&cl=CL1.22

    The state archives is a good place to start. I am intrigued as to your ancestors’ migration. I know why the Portuguese came. They signed sugar plantation contracts. They came for work. It would seem in your case they might have come over for the increased opportunity. As the Hawaiian Kingdom opened up to outsiders, those outsiders gained more power. They were many changes to buy land, open a business, and prosper because of the growing plantation system. It could be your Robinson’s were taking part in the growing business sector.

    What year did they arrive in Hawaii?

  6. Magda, That is another good point! I have 25 years worth of research on my lines stored on my computer and in binders. Now that my tree is online I know these people won’t be forgotten. Who knows? Some teenager fussing over homework today may be tomorrow’s future family historian. All this work will be out there waiting for them.

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