We frequently find genealogy purists looking askance at some of the genealogy published on the Internet. The other day rethinking this idea and decided that I'm grateful for anyone who takes the time to make family information available.
If you look at the Internet as the world's most gigantic library, then the contents should not be a surprise. Haven't we all been to a genealogy library and found an old book about some branch of our family only to discover that no sources were mentioned for any of the information? I don't know about you, but I burn up the photocopier anyway, not wanting to lose anything that made it into print about those elusive inhabitants of our family tree.
Of course there are books written, both now and in the past, that contain excellent source citations. But that does not necessarily make the book any more accurate than the one with no source notes. It just gives us a better roadmap for checking information. And that book without citations makes us work a little harder to verify the information, but the presence or lack of citations does not make it true or false.
The same thing is true for the Internet. There are people posting genealogy who wouldn't recognize a source citation if they saw one and others who are meticulous in their documentation. We have no guarantee that the first is not based on accurate oral tradition or that the second is not based on misrepresented facts in the sources cited.
So what to do with all the genealogy we find on the net? Just like any other resource: we need to verify the information in as many ways as possible. Did the author claim the family lived in a particular locale? Look for them in the census and tax books or city directories. Are the names of prior generations given? Search for any materials possible about those mentioned. Did you get a book on interlibrary loan that takes your family back six more generations, complete with source documentation? Follow the author's trail and verify the facts by looking at the same documents yourself. It is always possible that your interpretation may be different.
Then when you find a juicy clue in someone's Internet posting, send him or her a thank you e-mail. After all, no matter how complete or lacking in documentation, they have done you a huge favor by sending your search in a direction you might not have otherwise gone. One of the most valuable and trusted sources of genealogical data is a family Bible. But while you are photocopying the pages of the birth, marriage and death records, be sure to photocopy the title page of the Bible and the year of publication.
A few pages of information without documentation could be from anywhere and all good genealogists want to be sure to identify their soruce. Bible information should also include who has the original bible and where it can be found.
Southeastern Colorado Genealogical Society, Inc.
P.O. Box 1407
Pueblo, CO 81002
Our monthly meetings are held on the first Saturday of the month with a Genealogical Studies class at 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm and our Program from 2:00 pm - 3:00 PM
You do not have to be a member to attend - Everyone is welcome.
Call 719-250-5782 for more information or to schedule a ride.