Genealogy or Mythology  

Posted by Abba-Dad in ,

Miriam Robbins Midkiff commented on my previous post, about the validity of online family trees, by saying:

Amir, there is a well-known quote in the genealogical world: "Genealogy without sources is mythology."

Even if you have researched all your information carefully and have the documents to "prove" it, if you don't list your sources with your information when you publish it or post it online, it must still be considered mythology.

Good sources allow another family historian to retrace your steps through the same documents.

Thomas MacEntee responded to my question on the Genea-Blogger Group discussion thread along the same lines:

Amir, for me, none of the Ancestry tree data - be it One World Tree or others - is reliable unless there are source citations. I am a stickler for that.

Sometimes I will use the data in my database but place a citation of UNSOURCED with it so that I know I have work to do down the road.

And Bob Franks concurs as well:

I concur with Thomas about this. I treat unsourced data as research hints only until source material can be obtained to verify the data. I've also seen a lot of online trees where the source is listed as other online unsourced trees. It seems these spread like wildfire.

I have to agree with all of them. For one thing, they've been doing this for a while and I bet they know what they are talking about. But also, as I started drowning in a sea of ahnentafels, I was able to find some GEDCOM files that contained actual source references. Not a lot, but I guess that's better than claiming your ancestors are the Kings of Asgard.

I have decided to add this kind of information and tag the source as 'questionable'. This will help others who might come across this information in the future as well as allow me to return to these parts of the tree and continue a more thorough research at a later time. I find it kind of ironic that while researching the past you leave behind clues for people who might come across this research in the future. Kind of cool.

I found a great little Civil War story to tell, but I will just post it separately later. Thanks for the help and comments. Keep 'em coming!

This entry was posted on Saturday, August 9, 2008 at 4:06 PM and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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