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

Saturday, December 16, 2017

1 Out of 5 Children in the United States are hungry and genealogy

As I am currently driving across the United States from my home in Provo, Utah to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Maryland, I have been noticing the billboards claiming a huge number of children in the United States suffering from hunger. In the past, I spent years serving in a local charity that feeds the homeless and others who need food. Also, members of my family regularly volunteer in food programs to feed school-age children. The Church is also heavily involved in humanitarian services. See These services are supported by the members' voluntary contributions and fasting from their meals on one Sunday a month.

As a result, I have had very personal interest in the problem of both homelessness and hunger in the United States and elsewhere. But I am also a former trial attorney and a genealogist and therefore I am acutely aware of the need to support anything we say or record with adequate sources. Just as I would not go to court without evidence to support my case, I would not put any information in my family tree that I could not support with documentary historical records.

Now, what about the signs I am seeing along the road? They are simply and easily proved to be false. Finding information to contradict the statements is extremely easy. See Forbes, November 20, 2011, entitled "Are One In Five American Children Hungry?"

Now, unfortunately, the same types of statements are commonly made in online family trees and other genealogical publications. One of the most common is the statement, which I heard quoted again this week, about the popularity of genealogy as either the most popular or perhaps the second most popular hobby in America today. I have posted many times about my efforts to substantiate this claim and have shown over again that it is unsupported by any valid statistics from any source whatsoever.

There are a myriad of programs including school lunches, food stamps, and other similar programs as well as private charities that provide food the hungry, As the Forbes article concludes the greater problem today is juvenile obesity, not hunger. This is not to say that juvenile hunger does not exist in America. But exaggerating the problem does not help cure the situation. Before you contribute to a charity that uses false statistics to support its fundraising, you might investigate other more forthright and deserving charities and churches that are addressing the needs of our children realistically and at the very basic level.

Going back to genealogy, it is imperative that we do not pad our family trees with publically broadcast but unsubstantiated information. If we wish to speculate, do so in privacy and don't publish your speculations online.

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