25 August 2010
The one hobby that I have had for most of my life is genealogy. I think the blend of history and discovery are what hold my interest.
I'm becoming more and more disappointed with information I find on the internet. I recently checked a popular genealogy site and found someone took information from my family tree and added things that are wrong, blended it all together and re-published the information. The tree actually cites sources, but the sources are all trees other people have mashed together as well. The result is a huge mess.
And, there is my own family that uses incredibly poor scholarship in piecing our common lines together. It's become a run-away train. I'd blame the evil black box of the internet, but the problem really lies in people's willingness to take what the internet says as gospel. Their own genealogical version of sola scriptura.
Ages ago when I lived in Seattle, I used to spend hours looking through rolls and rolls of microfilmed census data at the National Archives (I believe it's was God's plan to move me away from the archives because children were in my future...I don't think my kids would see much of me if an archive was nearby ;)). When records started to become accessible on-line, it was a huge time-saver. It was also very dangerous because it relied on the accuracy of the saintly, but fallible, transcriber. I've still had to go back to the original mircofilm because of transcription errors when I know for certain an ancestor should be on the microfilm.
As much as I'd love to jump at the break-throughs in my remaining genealogical brick walls, I don't want to connect my tree to an ancestor that's not my own. Though picking a name off the internet that kinda-sorta-almost matches is tempting and makes life easy, the self-deception is kinda-sorta-almost always painful.
Primary sources, not the internet or someone's interpretation of the sacred genealogical scriptures, is still required. No analogy intended.