I think I am getting worn away by all the really bad genealogy I see almost every day. I feel like I am bailing the ocean with a teacup or maybe only a spoon. I realize the people who are wearing me away aren't even vaguely aware of blogs, genealogy blogs, this genealogy blog or much else in the world, but I am hoping, with a small glimmer of hope, that someone will help these poor unfortunate people overcome their really, really bad genealogy.
What set me off on a rant this time? A combination of factors. Surprisingly, the non-announcement of a New FamilySearch Beta test. I started to get notices from a few people that had received invitations to participate with promises to keep the rest of us informed. Maybe things seem darkest when you can see that glimmer of hope at the end of a really long tunnel?
Here it goes, today's picks for things that drive me crazy.
1. Entries on family group records without a semblance of using the shift key. Either the entries are all in capital letters or there is no capitalization at all, the entire entry is in lower case letters.
I am trying hard here not to be an elitist and scorn those who do not measure up to my standards. But come on, let's be a tiny bit consistent. Anciently, back in the days of 11x17 inch paper family group records, we went through a phase where the standard was to put the surnames in capital letters. I assume this was to make the surname standout from the rest of the typing and make identification easier. Recognizing this old standard, many genealogy programs have a provision for allowing all caps or change the case to regular sentence structure. With today's programs, there is no longer any need to have surnames in all caps. If it is necessary, the surname can be marked with forward slashes. But having the entire entry in all caps or all lower case is just plain sloppy. But how can I trust someone with accurate dates and information, that can't pick up on even this small detail? OK, so do I have to make allowances for the e. e. cummings of the genealogy world? USE THE SHIFT KEY!!! Get the idea. In today's online world, all caps is equal to shouting.
2. Please do not show me another entry in your genealogy that says "Mary, abt 1900." This person must of had a birth date and a birth place. I don't mind having people put in guesses or entering the given name when the surname is unknown, but why do these people feel compelled to publish their genealogy online with incomplete or inaccurate entries? Keep your speculation and bad research to yourself. If you can't find someone born in the 20th Century don't tell me about it. (Really, I would be glad to help especially if you are just learning, but come on, the 20th Century?)
3. Copying verbatim the above problems. Not only are there people who don't care enough about detail to have very sloppy genealogy, there are those who copy it all without making even the slightest effort to check the accuracy or even correct the bad typing.
4. Thinking that the only source for genealogy is the U.S. Census. I have written about this recently. You cannot believe how many people, who have supposedly been doing some kind of research activity for years, have never gotten beyond Ancestry.com and the U.S. Census. Last week I helped a patron at the Mesa Regional Family History Center find her father and grandfather on the U.S. Census. This week she came back and asked me to show it to her again, because someone who was helping her couldn't find the same entry. She thought I was magic or something because I could find her father and grandfather under their names in Ancestry.com. There was no spelling issue, they were right there under their names with wives and children listed. Let's move on folks. Start using all of the millions of other records available.
5. OK, here's today's worst. Because I swim in a sea of New FamilySearch, I have to deal with it almost every day. The issue is people who think they are doing "research into their genealogy" when they are copying user submitted family trees, without doing even a modicum of verification.
My last comment for today; don't claim to have a real "brickwall" until you have read every edition of every small town newspaper in the area of your research. I have a friend who brought me a stack of research including a copy of an obituary in a small town newspaper. This person is trying to find out about the person in the obituary. When I asked her about where the obituary came from, since I have yet to find it online, she replied, someone gave it to me. That wears me away just a little bit more. She wants suggestions about where to look for more information. Here is the suggestion, look in the newspaper that had the obituary.