The Golden Rule in genealogy

Every April people from around the globe commemorate “Golden Rule Week.” It’s a chance to celebrate the idea to treat others the way you’d like to be treated. It’s a rule that has been shared in different ways in diverse cultures for thousands of years.

The Golden Rule and genealogy

Smiling woman with eyeglasses using laptop at home.There are lots of chances to give back to others through your family history research. You just need to know a few of the basic rules and then make sure the information you’re offering to others is done to the level you would want to include in your own family tree.

Sherri’s Golden Rule

Genealogy best practices start with what Genealogy Librarian Sherri Camp calls the “Golden Rule of Genealogy” – start with yourself and work backwards adding one generation at a time. This is what Family Search calls “Work from the known to the unknown.” By starting with yourself and those family members closest to you, you’re building a family history foundation on correct information. Then you can share with others to strengthen their research.

Right wrongs

Have you ever looked at a shared family tree in or Family Search and thought “that is totally wrong!”? What may seem obvious to you – a misspelling of your uncle or grandpa’s name, or the wrong birth date – may have been a stretch for a distant relative to make. When you correct the information you’re strengthening your whole family story.

Give back

Did you know Family Search has online volunteer opportunities? Even taking just a few minutes to help them improve accuracy will benefit you and everyone else on the platform. One current volunteer activity is helping to improve place names, and there are many chances to help!

Start putting the Golden Rule into practice in your own family history work and you never know what good can come of it!

Genealogy resources

Check out all the genealogy resources you have free access to with your library card. We also offer online classes and in-person help in the Baker Genealogy Center.

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Debbie Stanton is the Public Services Manager at the library. She coordinates services for the Readers Team, Information & Learning Team, and Youth Services Team at the library and develops the library's relationships with community organizations.