Murphy’s Law of Genealogy

1. The public ceremony in which your distinguished ancestor participated and at which the platform collapsed under him turned out to be a hanging.

2. When at last after much hard work you have evolved the mystery that you have been working on for two years, your aunt says, “I could have told you that.”

3. You search ten years for your grandmother’s maiden name to eventually find it on a letter in a box in the attic.

4. You never asked your father about his family when he was alive because you weren’t interested in genealogy then.

5. The will you need is in the safe on board the Titanic.

6. Copies of old newspapers have holes occurring only on the surnames.

7. John, son of Thomas the immigrant whom your relatives claim as the family progenitor, died on board ship at the age of 10.

8. Your great grandfather’s newspaper obituary states that he died leaving no issue or record.

9. Another genealogist has just insulted the keeper of the vital records you need.

10. The relative who had all the family photographs gave them all to her daughter who has no interest in genealogy and no inclination to share.

11. The only record you find for your great grandfather is that his property was sold off due to insolvency.

12. The one document that would supply the missing link in your dead end line has been lost due to fire, flood, or war.

13. The clerk to whom you wrote for the information sends you a long handwritten letter which is totally illegible.

14. The spelling of your European ancestor’s name bears no relationship to its current spelling or pronunciation.

15. None of the pictures in your recently deceased grandmother’s photo album have names written on them.

16. No one in your family tree ever did anything noteworthy, owned property, was sued or was named in a will.

17. You learn that your great aunt’s executor just sold her life’s collection of family genealogical materials to a flea market dealer “Somewhere in the city”.

18. Ink fades and paper deteriorates at a rate inversely proportional to the value of the data recorded.

19. The 37 volume, 16,000 page history of your county of origin isn’t indexed.

20. You finally find your great grandparents’ wedding record and discover that the bride’s father was named John Smith.

Tagged with 

2 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law of Genealogy

  1. All very true especially number 15. This is what I am facing now. Glad my father and aunt are still here to work out who some of the people were that are in the photos.

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Murphys Laws, Gould Genealogy. Gould Genealogy said: how many can you relate to?? Murphy's Law of Genealogy http://bit.ly/fzFU1y #genealogy #familyhistory [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *