Want to keep incorrect birth and death dates and misattributed relatives out of your family tree?
Before you’re lured in by the excitement of a new genealogy discovery in a family story, an Ancestry.com hint or an online family tree; take some time to ensure that those “facts” are safe. These measures will help:
- Examine the sources attached to the information. Do they support the researcher’s conclusions? If not, or if you don’t find sources associated with the event in question, research the claims.
- Determine the validity of the source. Is it an original record, such as a passenger list? An index that points to the record? A transcription? The further you get from the original record, the more likely errors have been introduced. Try to find primary sources for the information you’ve discovered.
- Evaluate the time between the event and when the source you’ve found was created. People relying on their memory of a date or place may not remember it accurately. A passenger list is likelier to have the correct immigration date than a census record created decades later. A birth or baptismal record made soon after a person’s birth is likelier to have his correct birth date and place than a biographical sketch written in their 50th year.
In Family Tree University’s four-week course on Becoming A Family History Detective, you’ll learn skills to assess records and build a sound understanding of your family history. Case studies and practical applications help you put your analytical skills to use. Learn more about the Become A Family History Detective.