It might not hurt if genealogical researchers knew some basic geography and history also.
If this sounds like the beginning of another genealogical tirade, it is. I just spent the last two days untangling two family lines that had much, much worse than my understated example of an unbelievable conglomeration of impossibility on the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. The most bothersome aspect of this whole experience is that a modicum of common sense, logic and consistency could have prevented the entire mess for occurring.
I need to start off by stating unequivocally that FamilySearch.org is the solution not the problem. I often say that I don't do crazy and I don't do stupid, but in the case of genealogy, I end up dealing with both in copious quantities. The only saving aspect of this situation is that the FamilySearch.org Family Tree finally gives me the tools to sort out this nonsense. The tragedy of the situation is that so many of the users of the Family Tree go blissfully along without even becoming aware of the chaos that lives under the seeming veneer of respectability they inherited from their inconsistent, illogical and senseless relatives. Not to mention the current crop of who apparently never learned north from south or picked up everything they know about England from Harry Potter books.
At one point in time as I worked through the morass, one of my relatives had between twenty and thirty bright red warning icons like this:
That was one person with all this kind of drivel. At this point, I return to my constant theme that Americans don't seem to be learning anything in school.
I am not just talking about the common same name, same person syndrome, this issue goes much deeper. For example, the problem arises from the simple genealogical fact that in the parishes I was dealing with there were sometimes nearly a hundred people with the same name born within the same four year period of time. In this case, I had to identify the house my relatives lived in and track their occupations carefully so that the carpenter could be differentiated from the groom or wagoneer. Really simple, basic genealogical research that seems to be entirely lost on any of my distant relatives.
The common solution in the past when looking for a specific ancestor was to create a new family, with new dates and spellings to accommodate the variations in the information from the historical records rather than making an effort to understand what was going on. In the last two days, I have merged more than a hundred copies of the same individuals. Thankfully, the Family Tree lets me sort out all this mess rather than providing a cozy isolation like the other large online family tree programs where each person can wallow in their own inconsistency and build their own imaginary ancestral castle.
Finally, it turned out in one very complex and frustrating tangle, that I wasn't even related to the whole mess I fixed because my own relative was an illegitimate child and his father was not identified and so that whole line floated off into its own obscurity. Apparently none of the dozens of researchers who had tagged on this mess bothered to investigate what the birth record meant when it said that my relative was "base born" and assigned him a father without any supporting documentation.
If this were an isolated problem, I wouldn't bother with the frustration, but it is pretty generally the case across the board.
Well it's time to move on to the next equally as frustrating conglomeration.