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Sandra Rumble
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So many questions posed .. so many thoughts in response .. so I will stick with the one that is the most immediate for me "If you could tell someone new to genealogy that there are “standards” to follow, what would they be?"

My starting list ..
1. beware the door you open .. you may not always like the answer you find on the other side ..
2. keep an open mind and view the past thru the lens of the time period .. understanding the community your ancestors lived in is crucial to understanding the events and choices of their life.  Something that sounds cruel today may have been a very practical, good choice when viewed with regards to the culture and environment of those times ..
3. no one has all of the answers in genealogy and very little is certain except, of course, that people lie

For the practical ..
1. record dates in a standard format as in 11 Aug 1841 vs. 08/11/41 or is that 11/08/41?
2. always record women by maiden name, and use something to indicate an unknown maiden name, be it Unknown or my personal favorite LNU (Last name unknown) or FNU (first name unknown)
3. source everything! .without a source a fact or assertion becomes a hint at best.  follow the templates provided by many software packages.  balance the need to document your sources with the time needed to do so. 
4. document everything you can .. picture, jpg, photocopy/scan, etc.  don't forget the front matter to a book or collection, and always know and record where you found it
5. an index is like an entry in a card catalog .. it is a summary of a few pieces of information used to identify the person a record is speaking about .. it is only an index.  always attempt to secure the original record the index entry is describing .. in its original language if the record can be found.
5. personal knowledge can be a source .. but it only has value if it applies to someone you knew very well .. and then should, rightly, be viewed with some skepticism.  backup your personal knowledge with other "more concrete" sources
6. question everything and then verify, repeatedly

My lists will grow .. my Introduction to Genealogy class being offered at the Delaware Valley College, Center for Learning in Retirement begins on September 10th. 

I could provide answers or more accurately, my perspective, on many of the other questions, but I'm not sure how welcome my perspective would be ..

Sandy
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That is cool.  Glad to know someone's kids are interested :-)
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