WHEN THE SOURCES ARE WRONG!

By Henry Z Jones, Jr.
Fellow, American Society of Genealogists

Post Office Box 261388
San Diego, California 92196-1388


I.  INTRODUCTION.

  A.  The will of William Shakespeare and its relevance to genealogical sources.
  B.  Genealogy is a testament not only to the strengths, but also to the fallibility of man.
    C.  Erroneous sources are "part of the game."


II.  SECONDARY GENEALOGICAL SOURCES IN GENERAL.

  A.  Inherent risks in using them.
    The kids' game of "Telephone" and its importance.

  B.  "Record Source Failure: Some Implications For Analysis," by Dean L. McLeod, in Genealogical Journal, June 1978.

  C.  Errors in some specific secondary printed sources.

  D.  Examples of errors in basic printed "Palatine" sources.

III.  ORIGINAL, PRIMARY SOURCES CONTEMPORARY WITH THE EVENT.

  A.  Churchbooks and their organization: wonderful examples to be found in
          Kenneth Smith's German Churchbooks: Beyond the Basics.

  B.  Bringing a 20th century mind to an 18th century problem.

  C.  McLeod's examples of non-registration and under-registration as to completeness and accuracy.

  D.  Original sources that are just, plain wrong!

 
IV.  WHAT THE GENEALOGIST SHOULD KEEP IN MIND.

  A.  Remaining alert to the possibility of altered sources.

  B.  The sources may be "right": our perception of them may be "wrong!"
    Milton Rubincam's wonderful examples in Pitfalls in Genealogical Research.

  C.  Under what conditions was the record made?

  D.  The possibility that an ancestor didn't know his own vital statistics.

  E.  Gravestone errors.

  F.  Each of us will be "A Source" someday!

  G.  The humanity of ourselves and our ancestors.

 
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