Sunday, April 24, 2016

Three Thoughts About Genealogists' Recent Comments

Over the last 6 weeks I’ve spoken with several other professional genealogists and three conversations are continuing to resonate in my mind.  This is a matter of opinion and as I highly value these individuals knowledge, experience and practice, I want to share their views because I see the world a little differently. 
  1. “No tree containing over 2000 individuals can be accurate.”  Hmm, accuracy in identity of the folks we include in our tree is paramount.  If we don’t have the evidence to support that the “John Doe” we have is the father of our “Adam Doe” than we are barking up the wrong tree.  The repercussions are serious – wasted time, the error keeps being repeated ad nauseam by others who don't check sources and we’re not adhering to the standards.  That being said, I don’t believe there is a finite number that insures accuracy and when the number is reached, it’s over. Genealogy is not a game to win; it's not "I got more peeps than you do!"  Genealogy is quality.   As genealogists we need to be open and accepting that our work can radically change direction at any time.  As one of my relatives likes to kid me, “So, you really can guarantee that gggggrandma’s children were biologically ggggggrandpas?”  No, but that’s where dna can help.  We need to use all the tools available and dna is definitely one where I need more training and experience.  Learning and growing are important in every field.  Setting a threshold is not. 
  2. “I stopped working on my own tree 10 years ago because there was nothing else to be found.  I totally understand that when one begins to take paying clients time is limited on personal tree research. I feel that pain!  My New Jersey to Ohio Coles keep popping up but I put them aside for everybody else.  I don’t believe, though,  there is ever a time when one can say there is no more information to be found.  We don’t know if there’s a record or photo in someone’s attic, basement, garage, antique store, historical museum or even misfiled in the National Archives.  If you don’t look I can guarantee you won’t find anything!  I’m still hopeful that someday the misfiled Pennsylvania probate records I’m searching for will be discovered.  That newly found document could alter the line so I keep open the fact that my tree is never done and there is always something out there waiting to be discovered.
  3. “I make my online tree private so only serious genealogists will contact me for specific information.”  Perhaps my background in the education field and my early experiences in genealogy influence me to share openly.  My view is that serious genealogists most likely already have what you have.  If they don’t, they will have no qualms about reaching out to you to collaborate, irregardless of whether your tree is public or private.  For those that aren’t “serious,” everyone must start somewhere and if your work is well documented then I’d rather have a newbie take off and run with my work than not.  Making a contact can be intimidating to some; I don’t want anyone to have to reinvent the wheel.  I understand that much time, effort and possibly cost was involved in accumulating your research.  If you want to recoup some of your investment then publish your work. Creating an e-book is easy and inexpensive.  
Happy Hunting and now I'm back to Spring Cleaning!

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