Grand Pockets’s Blog

Genealogy, Family, Poetry and Peeves

Free genealogy Updates

I have been busy updating the genealogy pages – quite a few additions and I’m soon going to revamp the whole page setup by renaming everything in an alphabetic hierarchy – should make finding anything easier since there are over 100 pages of info now. I also added trees on world connect (file id = grandpockets”) and I’m looking into a genealogy website.  I’ll update the files on each monthly as I make new additions and corrections to my master file. Meanwhile I want to get back to those deed transcriptions!

I found a major error in a classic Family Genealogy on the Durbin family by Betty Jewell Durbin Carson that had me sidetracked for a bit until I gathered the proof that she had made an error. Her book is well received by Durbin family researchers and she is an excellent painstaking researcher herself, so this isn;t meant to be a blast at her but a reminder that in genealogy EVERY “standard” work has errors – when compiling a book with several thousands of persons and families it is impossible to get it all right. Time is the enemy. Even with computers, tracking down and inputting the research to “prove” every person in a genealogy would be impossible. What genealogists do is create “anchor” persons – the beginning person, his children and spouses and prove them as exhaustively as possible. The same for prominent family members who have achieved some fame or notoriety. The far flung cousins and downlines are almost always derived from correspondence with families, donated registers and ahnentafels and bits of lines from other works. The best screen these for improbabilities and use as direct a correspondence with those families as possible but is every person thoroughly researched? NO. If the writer’s primary research on their anchors is thorough, if they filter and use secondary sources from other known-to-be-good researchers, and get direct correspondence from family members who actually witnessed events, a book may be surprisingly accurate for the number of people it contains. I guarantee you it will still have some whoppers imbedded in it somewhere.

The tricky thing is that the best works have errors that are very hard to detect (because they spot the real improbabilites and implausibilities and get them corrected – the errors left are the ones that fit the facts and make sense but they are still wrong. Trust no one else’s research or conclusions until you see the evidence and can weight their position. I’ll buy another of Ms. Carson’s books should she publish one because what is right is far more valuable to me than the few mistakes – even the lollapalooza that almost threw me. Trust yourself! If you’ve done the primary research then just as likely to be right as any expert.

Think of books as the rough trail that you have to lay the firm pavement on. Books are secondary sources, by themselves all they prove is that someone printed some information. It may be the wrong info but its in print. Magazine articles, news clippings, books, gedcoms from the internet, ahnentafels and registers. All of these are simply shortcuts if they got it right – they get you to the right area, the right records, a lot faster. When they’re wrong though they can make a search frustratingif you’re not willing to assume they’re wrong until the proof is in front of you.

Ah hell, enough already! Happy hunting!



January 9, 2009 - Posted by | genealogy | ,

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