Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's been a while

Well, I started this blog in response to a post (somewhere) about family Christmas memories. But I haven't touched it since. Thought it was about time I did. I have certainly been involved with family history research this year - so much so that I am beginning to suspect my husband is right and I have developed RSI in my right arm. Something is certainly giving me curry, and I hate the thought it might be the computing, meaning I should cease and desist for a while.
I have really got into lately. I've been a member for a few years, but really only used it as a source for information. I hadn't uploaded a family tree. But then I became intrigued by the adverts promoting the notion of 'hints' so, as the ad said - I typed in a few names and up popped a little leaf....! I soon made connection with lots of other trees which contained the same people I was researching, and in many instances I was able to add new people to my tree.
But I also found a) it was too easy to become a name collector - I was adding people so remotely connected it wasn't funny - did I really want these people in my tree, did I need them? I'm still in two minds, because they ARE connected. But b) I was also finding obvious errors - even in families of which I had no direct knowledge. But certain facts just didn't 'jell'. And there were lots of cases where people had obviously added the information from a 'hint' without really reviewing what they were adding. For instance,my great grandfather was shown in a couple of trees as having a total of four wives - one (correct) married in England and then moving to, and having children in, Australia. But at the same time as the Australian children were being born he was supposedly in Canada, marrying (at different times for each) three other women, and having children, in Canada, with them. A jet-setting bigamist in the late 1800s - I don't think so! There are many other cases where the wrong place of death or birth has been recorded - the real event might have been in Newcastle, England, but a hint has shown Newcastle, USA, or because someone of the same name died in the same year but in a different country they have assumed it is the same person. I fear for the future of online genealogy when these sort of mistakes are being perpetrated and more worryingly perpetuated as people add incorrect and unchecked information to their own trees. The internet is a blessing for family historians in so many ways, but it is also a trap for the unwary. Thank goodness allows Comments to be added to individuals in trees so at least others can be alerted to the errors.

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