How many sources?

5 November 2015

Over the past year, FWL have had some interesting cases which have not, shall we say, conformed! On various occasions, the Bonavacantia list is not kind, giving us false information about the marital status of the deceased, their birth date etc. or giving details which are of similar use to the proverbial chocolate teapot. Born in England? Well, that narrows it down – not! Today, Eileen Colin (widow)…. you’ll never guess what her husband was called? Mr Colin! Good to know the GLD staff have a sense of humour!

The team often tell me that I have inspired moments. I hate to say that they are wrong, but it is more accurate to say that I have, over the years, acquired weird and wonderful ways of searching. If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying (or try, try, try again!). So, we can’t find a Curtis birth? The deceased had three first names and, no matter which order you put them in, the birth date came up with no returns on FreeBMD, Ancestry or FindMyPast. Because the gentleman’s birth was registered in the surname Kurtz!

We are working on another historical case at the moment where the birth name of a deceased spinster doesn’t quite tally up with her name on decease, and heaven alone knows who her parents are …. hoping the birth certificate will arrive soon before I lose my sanity there! She did feature in the 1939 Register but the information served merely to complicate things rather than assist!

Our work relies heavily upon knowledge and sources. If the sources aren’t there, it is certainly more challenging to make conclusions based on anything more than opinion/conjecture. How many sources are needed to prove a point? One? Two? Three or more?

Many genealogists (hobbyists, amateurs and some who purport to be professionals) rely on too few sources before accepting their assertions as fact. We all start somewhere but sometimes the online trees leave a lot to be desired in terms of being well outside the realms of possibility. You know the trees I am talking about….

So, a recommendation: cite your sources for every record you collect and ask yourself, “If I explain my theory about this family to someone else, would they comprehend the evidence I have used to support my conclusion?” I think, more often than not, the answer would be “No”!

Food for thought!

© 2024 Family Wise | Privacy Policy | Website created by: stellasoft