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

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Genealogical Research is always Genealogical Research

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Technology has changed some of the methodologies of genealogical research, but the core objectives and processes remain the same. For example, I can travel along on a freeway at a high speed, but travel is essentially the same as it was in antiquity. It is travel and you have to keep alive, eat, sleep, and maintain a daily routine despite the method you use or the time involved to move from one place to another.

Genealogy has its routine activities that will never change. No matter how fast I obtain the information I will still have to go through the processes of evaluation and incorporation.

What happens if we ignore our essential living activities? If we fail to eat, sleep or do other things that are detrimental to our well-being, we will begin suffering rather quickly. I don't know of anyone who has been injured by genealogical deprivation, but our genealogical work also suffers when we fail to do the basic things that assure us of a healthy and accurate family tree. What are those routine genealogical activities?

One of the most basic is evaluating any entries to the extent possible. Here is a randomly chosen example of an entry that is far from complete from the Family Tree program.

In this particular case, perhaps this is all we know about this person. Why is the entry incomplete? The reason for this may not be evident from a cursory examination. Well, let's have a look to see how accurate and complete this entry really is.

This entry has six sources listed. All of them spell his name as "Rutherford." Only one has two "o" letters. In addition, here is the list of his children.

The spelling of the name is not a trivial issue. It is entirely possible that at the date reflected, the person's name was not spelled consistently. But if there were, in fact, two different spellings of the name, that should be noted in the Other Information section. Here is what that section notes:

This entry for the supposed "Birth Name" is an artifact of the Family Tree program's incorporation of records from previous submissions of the individuals to FamilySearch and its predecessors. Here the birth name should be changed to "Also Known as."

I would also be inclined to change the person's name to "Rutherford" and use the alternative spelling of "Rutherfoord" as the alternative. I would only do this because there was one record with the name spelled differently.

The children listed is a more serious issue. The Ritchie children were apparently born in the United States, while this family is definitely from Scotland. It appears that they have been added without any sources or explanation as to why they have parents who lived in Scotland and when the mother would have been quite old. There is no reason at all as to why they are included in this family and they should be removed.

All of the entries in the Family Tree and elsewhere for that matter need to go through the same evaluation process. No matter how much technology changes the methodology of genealogy, the basic research functions of evaluation and incorporation need to be carefully observed.

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