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There are a number of reasons researchers might want to check out compiled genealogies CDs:

  • The information found may not have been published elsewhere.
  • The information may lead to related researchers.
  • The information may provide leads to other resources and starting places to research.
  • Sources of the data might be included, indicating a dedicated researcher who has left a road map for you to follow, and making it easier for you to locate primary sources and original records.

Just as important to consider, there are a number of faults to keep in mind when viewing a compiled genealogies CD:

  • Not all research is equal -- what one researcher might consider to be good research practices may fall short of another researcher's expectations, and people have varying levels of skills and expertise.
  • Genealogies compiled in the 19th century and before are often less than accurate due to weak research and researchers' biases.
  • Data submitters may no longer be alive, or they may not be reached at the contact address given, thus negating a valuable resource.
  • Most important of all -- the data may not have been thoroughly verified and sourced.

The key to using a compiled genealogies CD successfully is to tackle it with a reasonable research strategy:

  • Treat the CD as you would any other resource by following the basic precepts underlying good genealogy research -- in other words, the data should be treated as unverified until you have sourced it thoroughly.
  • Use the information as a guideline to locating other information. Even if the data is incorrect, make note of the locations and sources listed (if any) and use that to make a research plan of your own. For instance, if I had a World Family Tree that had my Abington, MA Benner birth information incorrect, I could make note of the locations listed for the family and check into town records to see if I couldn't locate the correct data myself.

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