Thursday, January 18, 2018

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Two Wrongs Don't Make it Right!

treegenealogymidI had a discussion not long ago with a client and something came up that I thought all new genealogists should be aware of. I often see family trees posted online that 1) do not have any sources & 2) that have been copied from other family trees without sources.

It is first important to note that you should NEVER copy information from another family tree & put it in your own tree until you have verified all the information by locating all the documentation to prove it. 

In the instance of my conversation with the client, he asked if I take information from other family trees in the course of my research for clients & I told him no. I proceeded to explain to him why I do not do that. I will use it as a reference or guide if I have encountered a brick wall so I can locate & acquire the documents to support it. He said he had taken information from other family trees & accepted it as fact if dates & other information matched what he had. In both cases there is no source from either his information or the other tree. I explained to him that it does not matter if information matches because a person has no idea where the information came from as it could have been acquired from another unverified source.

To put it simply, without sources, just accepting information because it matches yours is not proof that the information is accurate.... Two incorrect pieces of information will not make it correct. VERIFY ALL INFORMATION! Genealogy research does not happen overnight and takes a lot of work so why take a shortcut that could cause you to end up further researching a line that may turn out not to be related at all. You will have spent all that time in vain & will cause you or someone else to have to start all over again. If you think you are in over your head, then you may want to consider hiring a professional.

Genealogy without documentation is mythology!!!

Classes are available at genealogy conferences to help you learn how to do genealogy research properly, take advantage of that and learn. Rootstech is the largest genealogy conference in the world that takes place in Salt Lake City every year in February where thousands of people go to network & learn and I highly recommend it, but there are many local conferences that you can attend. You might consider joining a local genealogy society and or join the Conference Keeper Facebook group.
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Comments 9

Guest - Rose Mitcham on Thursday, 26 January 2017 04:26

Thank you p, I been trying to tell my students that all information mush be documented and verified. And some family stores or just family stories .

Thank you p, I been trying to tell my students that all information mush be documented and verified. And some family stores or just family stories .
Tim Firkowski on Thursday, 26 January 2017 04:48

I can not emphasize enough how important this is.

I can not emphasize enough how important this is. :)
Guest - Lynne Serewicz on Thursday, 26 January 2017 07:48

"Polish and American-Canadian Genealogy". That's very interesting to me since my father is Polish/Lithuanian and my mother is French Canadian!

"Polish and American-Canadian Genealogy". That's very interesting to me since my father is Polish/Lithuanian and my mother is French Canadian!
Guest - Roger Chauvette on Thursday, 26 January 2017 07:52

Even then, sources can be deceiving. Census information is often unreliable in terms of spelling and ages of the people mentioned. Might be good to have a "credibility" list indicating Most Reliable to Least Reliable. Family geneagraphy can be filled with prejudice as well. In my experience, name changes at the border can also be a challenge... so dates are important. BTW, Church records indicate Baptismal records, not birth records; back then, in Catholic parishes, every attempt was made for same day baptism, but that was not always the case.

Even then, sources can be deceiving. Census information is often unreliable in terms of spelling and ages of the people mentioned. Might be good to have a "credibility" list indicating Most Reliable to Least Reliable. Family geneagraphy can be filled with prejudice as well. In my experience, name changes at the border can also be a challenge... so dates are important. BTW, Church records indicate Baptismal records, not birth records; back then, in Catholic parishes, every attempt was made for same day baptism, but that was not always the case.
Tim Firkowski on Thursday, 26 January 2017 11:29

Documents that have birth information are only guides if you do not have the original birth/baptismal information. I have a Blog Post referencing that…. do a search on my site with the term "Sources". A census still can still be used as a source & guide you to the correct information (the birth record).

Documents that have birth information are only guides if you do not have the original birth/baptismal information. I have a Blog Post referencing that…. do a search on my site with the term "Sources". A census still can still be used as a source & guide you to the correct information (the birth record).
Guest - Roger Chauvette on Thursday, 26 January 2017 07:54

Sorry... the captcha code printed at the end of the title.Title should read "Reliable Sources"

Sorry... the captcha code printed at the end of the title.Title should read "Reliable Sources"
Guest - Martin Brown on Sunday, 29 January 2017 21:59

Genealogy expert Tamura Jones came up with a fantastic word for genealogy/mythology: geneathology :-)
http://www.tamurajones.net/DoNotCiteMythology.xhtml

Genealogy expert Tamura Jones came up with a fantastic word for genealogy/mythology: geneathology :-) http://www.tamurajones.net/DoNotCiteMythology.xhtml
Guest - Val SG on Monday, 30 January 2017 07:18

Even original birth certificates can be wrong. My father's birth certificate, has his own name as his father. If that certificate is obtained by other family/genealogists in the future, they'll be mislead by it and yet will swear by it being true, when it isn't. I have no clue how any will disprove it. DNA is the only thing that will keep it proven as being wrong. Can't attach a DNA sample with it, even if I had it. [can't get the DNA either, both men are deceased now.] ;~/

Even original birth certificates can be wrong. My father's birth certificate, has his own name as his father. If that certificate is obtained by other family/genealogists in the future, they'll be mislead by it and yet will swear by it being true, when it isn't. I have no clue how any will disprove it. DNA is the only thing that will keep it proven as being wrong. Can't attach a DNA sample with it, even if I had it. [can't get the DNA either, both men are deceased now.] ;~/
Guest - Susan Posten Ellerbee on Saturday, 14 October 2017 08:41

I agree with your statement about using unsourced family tree as a guide, not facts, when you hit a brick wall. Information must be confirmed by other sources. I often email creators of the family trees and ask for their sources. Unfortunately, most never reply or reply with 'I got the information from another person/ family tree.' I found a name on an unsourced tree and, subsequently, found sources to confirm the name of my great-great-great grandfather, Thomas Ostrander.

I agree with your statement about using unsourced family tree as a guide, not facts, when you hit a brick wall. Information must be confirmed by other sources. I often email creators of the family trees and ask for their sources. Unfortunately, most never reply or reply with 'I got the information from another person/ family tree.' I found a name on an unsourced tree and, subsequently, found sources to confirm the name of my great-great-great grandfather, Thomas Ostrander.
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Thursday, 18 January 2018

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 T he long awaited day has arrived. The series of books that are guides to researching docments in other languages is complete. For awhile now, the translation guide books for Polish, Latin & Russ...

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