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Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back to Back to Adam

I can't believe it, I had another of my friends relate his experience in tracing his genealogy "Back to Adam" using FamilySearch.org's Family Tree. This issue is sort-of like reruns of old TV shows, they never seem to go away.

Warning: the following is full of my opinions and a lot of obscure references. Proceed at your own risk!

It bears repeating, here are some good sites to start with:
I have quoted this before, but here it goes again. Quoting from ProGenealogists, Great Britain - Genealogy Research:
Most records of genealogical value dating from prior to 1500 concern only a small percentage of the total population, namely the nobility, royalty, and land-owning or merchant classes.
The primary sources for genealogical research in the British Isles is church and probate records. The earliest church records in the British Isles date back to 1538. Prior to that limited probate records, tax lists, population lists, court records, land records, and manorial records exist, however they contain much less genealogical information and are difficult to research, generally written in Latin. This is also true for most of the countries of Europe whose earliest church records begin in the 17th century. ProGenealogist
 So how do all these people who claim to have pedigrees back to Adam get their information? Here is another quote I have used in the past:
In an article in The Ensign Magazine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for February, 1984, Robert C. Gunderson, Senior Royalty Research Specialist of the Church Genealogical Department wrote a short article entitled "I've heard that some people have extended their ancestral lines back to Adam." He states,"In thirty-five years of genealogical research, I have yet to see a pedigree back to Adam that can be documented. By assignment, I have reviewed hundreds of pedigrees over the years. I have not found one where each connection on the pedigree can be justified by evidence from contemporary documents. In my opinion it is not even possible to verify historically a connected European pedigree earlier than the time of the Merovingian Kings (c. a.d. 450–a.d. 752). Every pedigree I have seen which attempts to bridge the gap between that time and the biblical pedigree appears to be based on questionable tradition, or at worst, plain fabrication. Generally these pedigrees offer no evidence as to the origin of the information, or they cite a vague source."
Gunderson gives the opinion that "I would recommend that no one undertake research prior to a.d. 1500 without first checking with the Genealogical Department, and then only after all avenues of research for more recent generations have been exhausted."
 But in contrast to this educated opinion, I still find a number of websites that give pedigrees "back to Adam." Here are a few, in case despite what I have to say, you are so inclined:
I could go on and on. The tragedy of the "back to Adam" issue is that it diverts resources, time and effort from legitimate research and give novices a very unreasonable expectation. One of the common questions asked of me is "How far back have you done your genealogy?" Not how well have you done your genealogy, not how valid are your conclusions, but just how far. Genealogy is not a competition sport. 


4 comments:

  1. Thanks for this! I'm a Family History Consultant and I've personally heard this claim by someone I know. I've been skeptical about this claim, so thanks for the info.

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  2. We have to understand the time period when some of this research was done. It was important for the upper class to show to the people why they where select to rule or even a region to boost its self image that they where selected.

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  3. Thank you, James. Thank you also for pointing out other question we often get, "How far back ... " --GeneJ

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