Monday, May 14, 2018
The Saga of Francis Cooke on the FamilySearch Family Tree
One of my ancestors is Francis Cooke who was a passenger on the Mayflower. He is what I call a revolving door ancestor. I am watching him on FamilySearch.org Family Tree and every week I get an update of the changes made to his entry. He currently has 57 sources listed and 50 Memories. There are few people who were born in the 1500s that are more completely documented than the Mayflower passengers. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants or Mayflower Society has an extensive set of books called the "Silver Books" documenting every one of the accepted Mayflower passengers. Every statement about every passenger has been evaluated and compared to original documents and records. There is very little controversy about any of the entries in those books. If any new information is discovered, it is carefully reviewed by the Society's genealogists and added to the books. It takes years to get an alternative theory accepted.
You would have to dedicate years of your life and perhaps thousands of dollars to even get to the point where you could begin to find any new information about any one of the Mayflower passengers.
That brings us to the situation that exists with Francis Cooke in the Family Tree. Every week someone has made changes to his entry and someone else has to go through the changes and reverse the unsupported information added.
There has been some talk at the FamilySearch about requiring a source before making any changes to the Family Tree. With entries such as Francis Cooke and other individuals who are extensively documented there is no question that sources have been added. I do get unsupported changes to my ancestors almost constantly, but in this case, these individuals need to be evaluated and either made Read Only or some other step taken to avoid the colossal waste of time that it takes to maintain these well-documented individuals.
Another possible solution has been suggested that someone from the family be appointed the official gatekeeper for some of these people. The gatekeeper or gatekeeper committee would be the only ones allowed to make changes to the individual.
Some mechanism needs to be put in place to stop these revolving doors. The integrity and credibility of the Family Tree is really what is at stake.