Sunday, August 3, 2014

Debunking Misleading Records webinar by Tom Jones

The webinar Debunking Misleading Records is available from Legacy Family Tree Webinars free until Aug 10, 2014.  The presenter is Thomas W. Jones, certainly a well known name in genealogical circles.

I strongly encourage you to take the hour and watch this for yourself .  Here are some things in the webinar I found most important in the webinar:

- ANY record could contain false information. This was no surprise to me, I have previously written about my own birth registration which contained various lies.

- He states that he really thinks writing out research problems in prose helps get over brick walls. Again, this was no surprise to me, I find writing a blog post or proof argument on some research question often helps me to solve something.

- Something is likely incorrect if we can not corroborate it after thorough research.  Again, little surprise to me, one of my first experiences with this was looking for a HAPINSON, who was listed in a will transcription.  Turns out there are no HAPINSON people...anywhere...ever...Viewing the original will showed the name was HAGERMAN, a common surname in that area at the time, which revealed a huge collateral line on my HASKILL family.

- it is not unusual to have 16 or 18 sources for a birth date.  I'll confess I was a bit taken aback by this, at least until I considered it more carefully.  I suppose I *do* have that many sources for many people in my files.  He is counting records which do not directly state the birth date (ie. likely born after the marriage of the parents, so parents marriage record is one source etc) 

- 27 footnotes is a small number for a 12 page proof argument! Like above, I was a bit taken aback by this as well.  I find writing proof arguments difficult.  I often feel when writing that I am stating the obvious. This causes me to write much shorter arguments than I should.

- 12 page proof argument and 70 footnotes in one case. Wow! Again, it seems like a great big huge number.  As the years go by, I find that I am using far more sources than ever before.  Part of this is because I know more now, about which sources I might consult on a research question, and about how/where to access them.  Part of this is also because many sources are easier to access now, with so many records being online in indexed with scanned image form. Not having to spend $50 on a single record and instead being able to spend 5 minutes looking at a record online that is free or part of a subscription service I already have means I can investigate even slight hunches or suspicions on which records might contain valuable insight to the research problem.

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