Rather than use an ancestor's name that I know has dozens of submitted trees, I searched the Public Member Trees for less popular names. My first search was for my maternal grandfather, Harold Morgan. I immediately found 10 member submitted trees listing Harold Morgan including one submitted by my daughter. One of the many helpful features of Ancestry.com is the fact that they list the number of attached records, sources and photos to each entry, so it is a simple process to see whether or not any sources have been attached or not. Looking down this short list, I find the following:
- 10 sources
- 11 sources
- 7 sources
- 1 source
- 1 source
- 1 source
- 2 sources
- 3 sources
I have to admit at this point, that I have not put a lot of my genealogy online in publicly available family tree programs and no reflection on Ancestry.com, but I am putting some information into WeRelate.org. I do have a limited family tree in Ancestry.com for my Tanner family, but had not added any of my maternal relatives. So I decided to see exactly how much time it would take to add sources for Harold Morgan.
I added my mother and her father Harold Morgan in about 30 seconds. Immediately, Ancestry.com came up with the little green leafs that show documentation is available. They showed Harold Morgan with nine matching public member trees (what I had already found) but also a list of other available records. Within another few minutes I found the following with documentation:
1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 U.S. Census Record which included all of the family members living at home at that time.
Salt Lake City, Utah Cemetery Records
Utah Cemetery Inventory
World War I Draft Registration Card
4 Public Member Family Trees
That took me less than 10 minutes. So in about 15 minutes I added 8 source citations. At this point, I decided not to add any more duplicative family trees, so I ended up with fewer citations than my daughter.
What is the point? The point is simple, going back to the opening statement of this post, there is a vast gulf between the knowledgeable genealogists and the public interested in family. Even when citations are readily available, the time to add them is trivial and you don't have to worry about format or anything else, some people will still not add any sources. So whatever we are doing as genealogists, we are not communicating well with the general public about the need for citations.