I decided to choose an arbitrary number (ten) of areas I commonly see as needing attention. Many of these areas are ignored by those working on the program and can and will cause problems in the future. Each of these areas are details that need to be "cleaned up." It is significant that all ten concerns are illustrated in this one entry. I will be splitting this post into two parts with the first five concerns in this post and the next five concerns in a second post to come. Here is the list:
Concern Number One
This screenshot actually shows the first four areas of concern. But, first, comes the name of the ancestor. It took me only a few seconds of clicking on my pedigree to find this example. The problem her lies with adding in extraneous information to the name of the ancestor. The Family Tree search engine will consider the part of the name in parenthesis to be "part of the name" and will not find records for this person. The extra name is intended to be an "Alternative Name" and should be added to the Other Information section. There is a pull-down menu of suggested other information categories that can be chosen. This is not a trivial issue. In addition, the name here in the Vital Information section should be the actual birth name, i.e. the name given at birth. Any alternate names adopted by the deceased person should be put in the Other Information section. There are exceptions to this rule. For example, there is a possibility that the person actually changed their name during their lifetime. In these cases the additional names may be added in. My Great-great-grandfather's name was Charles Godfrey DeFriez. He changed his name to Charles Godfrey Jarvis. All of his children went by the name of Jarvis. To avoid a search for another father, we reflect that change by putting the Jarvis name at the end of his name, i.e. Charles Godfrey DeFriez Jarvis.
Concern Number Two
There really a lot I can say about this second type of entry. Initially, abbreviations are unacceptable. Again, the Family Tree search engine is not going to recognize this particular abbreviation. I could write an entire book about the rest of the problems with this entry. For example. the date is 1674. West Virginia, Shepherdstown, and Berkley county did not exist. Where was this person born? Additionally, an invalid, but very common assumption has been made that because a person's name is associated with a particular place, that person was born there. This entry is an admission that there is no information about this person. Abbreviations need to be expanded into complete place names, but more importantly, the correct place needs to be identified. There is no way to tell if this is the correct person without more specific information. Hint: West Virginia did not become a state until 1863.
Concern Number Three
Dates can be slippery. This is especially true of the date here: 1674. In about 1752 the Gregorian Calendar replaced the previously used Julian Calendar. Does this change affect the date? We cannot know or tell because the date is listed as approximate. This is another admission that nothing is really known about this person. There are online calendars that will calculate the difference in the dates. See timeanddate.com. Less obvious, is the fact that children of this person are shown being born as late as 1745 when Jeane Cheverill was 71 years old. This is really another concern that I will write about below.
Concern Number Four
The death place is shown as "Frederick, Virginia." This is a county formed in 1743. By this time, Jeane Cheverill would have been 69 years old. This age is not impossible for the time period, but very unlikely. Of course, there are no sources substantiating this advanced age or place. The real issue here, however, is that without a death date, it is nearly impossible to tell where this person actually died. Here is a quote from Wikipedia about Frederick County, Virginia that illustrates the problem:
Frederick County was established in 1743 from parts of Orange County. (At that time, "Old Frederick County" encompassed all or part of four counties in present-day Virginia — Shenandoah, Clarke, Warren, and Frederick — and five in present-day West Virginia — Hardy, Hampshire, Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan.)
That is a lot of territory to cover trying to research a death place and date.
Concern Number Five
This list of Alternative Names is misleading and inaccurate. She did not have all these names at birth. Additionally, the real birth name, if it is known, should be in the detail section shown above in the first screenshot. What do we do about all these supposed birth names? This is a difficult issue. Some of them are obviously wrong. She was not called "Mrs. Jane Morgan" or "Unknown (Morgan)" when she was born. These can readily be deleted with a comment about the fact that they are simply inaccurate. Taking that step, in this case, actually removes all of the names from the list. The name "Jane" might be re-entered as an Alternative Name if there are records to show that she used or went by that name.
That is all five of the first concerns. Stay tuned for the next batch.