Tuesday, February 18, 2014

We Are All Related

Ever wonder why when you attend a genealogy conference everyone is friendly. You can easily start a conversation with the person seated next to you at a lecture. You strike up a conversation in the library with total strangers. You step into an elevator and everyone treats you like a long lost relative. Well, the reason is because you probably are. Related, that is!

But are we and can we prove it? And when I say prove it, I don't mean because Aunt Emma said so.

A really great concept came into being a few years ago. It was the idea of cluster or sideways genealogy. Personally, I believe this is the only way to successfully trace your family. Yes, you have to trace your parents to parents to parents, but eventually if you are going to have to go sideways to break down those ever present brick walls. And this is when your family expands.

I have noticed lately that there are efforts to really expand our families into  one big colossal, ginormous family tree and just connect everyone. Granted, the further back you go, the less people you find. So eventually you are going to run out of ancestors and your family trees are going start overlapping. 

We all know that there is a lot of undocumented information out there online. We come across it every day. It can be as blatant as someone's 4X great grandfather who was born in 1772 and died in1775. The problem is that when this information goes into a worldwide family tree, that branch of the family is totally worthless.

Please understand I am not against this concept of the world wide family tree. I think it could be a great way to tear down brick walls. To cross the ocean back to the old country. It is just that there is such an opportunity for misinformation and we all need to be so aware of it. 

I encourage you to contribute to these worldwide family trees. But please verify the information you find on these trees. It goes back to the basic rule of an application to a lineage society. Do not enter any information that is not on the document you have in your hand.

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