Tanner, Maurice, and George C. Tanner. Descendants of John Tanner: Born August 15, 1778 at Hopkintown, R.I., Died April 15, 1850 at South Cottonwood, Salt Lake County, Utah. [S.l.]: Tanner Family Association, 1942.
This is the "basic" Tanner family book that I have been shown since I was a child as the "authority" on the Tanner line. There is a major problem with the book. It has little or no citation to any sources for the information. It relies heavily on the work done by George C. Tanner and published in two books:
Tanner, George C. William Tanner of North Kingstown, Rhode Island, and His Descendants. [Minneapolis, Minn.]: Pub. by the author, 1905.
Tanner, George C. William Tanner, Sr. of South Kingstown, Rhode Island and His Descendants: In Four Parts. Faribault, Minn: G.C. Tanner, 1910.
As pointed out recently in a blog post by my daughter, Amy Thiriot, in some instances, the information is neither sourced nor accurate. See John Tanner: Greenwich and Argyle, New York. But this information has been copied over and over again in books and thousands of family group records. There are many examples of the types of errors that have been perpetuated.
As I look at FamilySearch.org's Family Tree today, I see the entry for John Tanner's first child, Elisha Bently Tanner, with incorrect information. Despite the fact that I have literally tens of thousands of relatives who are descendants of John Tanner and further despite the fact that a huge number of them are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, apparently, until my daughter and I have decided to scrutinize the records has anyone made an attempt to correct the information.
What is particularly interesting to me is that representatives of FamilySearch are using the Tanner family, my ancestors, as examples as they do presentations in person and online about Family Tree. So I see the same incorrect information being referred to constantly.
FamilySearch Family Tree has the potential to resolve this never ending repetition of inaccurate information by adding sources and documentation for all of these disputed dates. But the real question is will it happen? Will people take the time to question the existing status quo of inaccurate information and correct it? The program has made it as simple as possible to add accurate source information. The program has now been online and available to my extended family for almost a year. But as I go through the information on the Tanner line, as an example, I find virtually no sources added by anyone other than me and my daughter.
If this type of inaccurate information exists in my family with all the books and family members, what is the status of the rest of the "accepted" and unsourced family information in Family Tree and a thousand other family trees online? Well, my assessment is pretty miserable. I use the example of the Tanner family because of the relatively large number of books printed on their ancestry.
Now is the time to start to break this repetitious cycle. Let's start adding sources to Family Tree (and any other online family tree files in other programs) and get busy with the work of genealogists and not perpetuate another generation of copyists!