Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Be Careful With Family Trees

For many years, family trees have been readily available on many genealogy websites, whether free or via subscription.  When using the information please heed the following warning:

IN MANY CASES THE INFORMATION IS WRONG!

Often the information has no source information or no citations.  Many inexperienced family history researchers will go ahead and add the names to their own tree and post it online.  This compounds the problem.

If one is serious about assuring that their own data is accurate, then they will not willy nilly add the newly found information to their own trees UNLESS they verify that the information is correct and adding sources and citations.

However, there are three big potential bonuses that can be achieved with these suspect family trees:

  • You can connect with the author of the tree and find that even though the data is not verified, they might be a relative!
  • You can at least help the person with the suspicious information get the facts straight, so that their tree can be updated with accurate information and reduce the number of faulty trees out there.
  • Even if you can't connect with the author, you might discover some clues that will help you find names of relatives that you didn't know existed. Then using your own verifiable search techniques, you have the ability to source and cite the information that they provide, or it might lead you on a path to do so.
So as they used to say in the TV program Hill Street Blues, "Be careful out there"

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