A few weeks ago I joined a group called the Geneabloggers. Great group of bloggers who all blog about genealogy. Gee now that's a surprise eh? Anyway someone in the group suggested that we blog about mistakes we've made, so maybe someone can learn from our mistakes.
My biggest mistake is the FIRST mistake I made when I started genealogy. I didn't source my material. And here I am 20+ years later still regretting that dumb decision.
So what's the big deal you ask? It's really quite simple - I can't compare new info & old info and adequately make a decision on which is more correct.
Without knowing the source of the information in my file, when I find a piece of new information that conflicts with what I have I really can't say for sure which is the more "likely" to be the correct one. When I didn't source my material I set myself up for all sorts of dilema's. Sourcing is not rocket science. Its as simple as "who, what and when". Remember those guys from middle school? If you need guidance check out Elizabeth S. Mills book, EVIDENCE! - I have several copies of her book on my shelf, both in hardback and paperback and I highly recommend that you find and use a copy too!
Sourcing is about being able to make a good decision about the information you collect, its about peace of mind, about being able to go back at any time and look at that source again if needed.
I found lots of good stuff and alot of it I am still trying to go back and find the sources for. But its been 20+ years. Will I ever get it all sourced? Hopefully! But until then everytime I find a date that doesn't agree with what I have I found out it really is true, your mistakes really do come back to haunt you...