Breamlea, Victoria

Breamlea, Victoria

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Ancestry pitfalls

Hello everyone!
Today I was so excited to receive my Legacy 8.0 Deluxe software so I can transfer all my Ancestry gedcom files onto my computer for access offline.

When I started Ancestry I was quite naive about other people's family trees and the information on them.

I thought that everyone would be as honestly diligent as I was trying to be. What I didn't realise was that there were a lot of novices clutching at any record to make a bit of a story.  Some of the things I have seen  are so obviously wrong it would make your hair curl.  But I didn't realise this when I started using Ancestry.

For example, on one Ancestry family tree, I found a photograph of my mother with my uncle at my own wedding, and the title was something like "Jack with his wife?"   I know my Mum gave that photo to her brother Jack, and the photo has obviously been passed down the line and someone has had a wild guess.

But seeing it was taken at my wedding, I think I ought to know.  And despite me telling them, twice now, they still haven't changed it.

Another problem I saw was that a father and son had the same names.  The person doing the tree presumed father and son were the same person and yet amazingly still had the son married to his own grandmother!  This is really not good enough.

Like all things, Ancestry can be a fantastic tool.  You get access to records which can be a wonderful start for establishing your family tree.

One of the features of Ancestry can be very helpful.  Ancestry can be a third party conduit to correspondence between different tree makers.  This is a no risk way of communicating with strangers.  The information they hold could be a great clue in your search.

However a word of warning.  I have seen some dreadful cut and paste jobs where tree makers have accepted all hints from another tree without evaluating each hint individually.  This includes where someone cut and pasted my tree into their family.  Later I discovered I had made a massive mistake.  I felt really dreadful about it.  How do you fix that?  Well I couldn't, except for telling that person about my mistake.  It did teach me a very hard lesson. Now I don't put anything on Ancestry that I am not "sure" is true. Or if I am speculating, I have the tree's privacy settings make it unavailable to the general public.  I treat other people's information with a healthy dose of scepticism now.

So here are some rules I have made for myself for using Ancestry.

1. Use the information from other family trees as CLUES to your research only.
2. Try and establish if the tree maker has RELEVANT PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE.  Are they writing about their aunt who they knew well or purely from the documents they have found?
3. CHECK and CHECK  again.  I bite my tongue when I hear someone say to me "oh yes my nephew did all that" like it was over and finished with.  We are all human and make mistakes.
4. There are many levels of proof in Genealogy.  Something that might satisfy a newbie at Ancestry  wouldn't be enough proof  (by itself) for more experienced genealogists.

If anyone else uses Legacy 8.0, can they please post a comment.  I would love to hear what your experience of the program is.

Historically yours,
Valerius Copernicus

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