Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Monday, May 29, 2017

A List of Symptoms of Poor Health in the Family Tree

Actually, I spent most of my early years eating all the foods shown above (except not beer if those icons are supposed to be beer). Anyway, the idea here is to build on my extremely long analogy in the last post on the Family Tree and give a list of the major symptoms of poor health practices in the Family Tree.

I have them organized in order from fatal to mildly annoying.

No. 1 Of course, the first things on the list are the fatal red icons. 

The red icons are called "Data Problems." They should be called dead end fatal errors. Of course, the error may be as simple as a typographical error in the date entered. But when you look closer, you usually find that the first red icon is really just a symptom of more serious errors.

What do I mean by fatal errors? As Miracle Max says, they are only mostly dead. You either have the wrong person or the wrong parents. It is also possible that the dates have been incorrectly recorded. Whatever the reason, the information basically ends that particular line and may also indicate further serious errors. There is a very small chance that careful and realistic research will revive the person.

This person was also born after his mother died. Any entries concerning his parents or the rest of his lineage (which in this case goes back at least another nine generations is pure fantasy. This is where the train jumps the track folks (to mix my metaphors and analogies). By the way, it is against the rules to simply go in and change the date to "fix" the error. That is pure cheating. This is a good entry for pointing out errors because there are several more. Oh, remember, there is a whole list of these Data Problems and they are nearly all categorized as No. 1 fatal errors.

No. 2 Really bad name errors.

These aren't always fatal but as far as the Family Tree program is concerned the people with this error are invisible. Here is an example of a classic error.

Did you notice the list of red icons? Well, the issue here is the way the name is recorded. Here is a screenshot of just the name.

Hmm. This entry shows the next major error also, but right now we are looking at the nearly fatal name entry. Is this the person's name? The name field should contain only characters that are in the earliest recorded name for the person. That is it. Nothing more and nothing less. This brings us to another error with this entry that is nearly always fatal.

No. 3 Place names should be entered from the smallest to the largest jurisdiction as the place was known at the time the event occurred. Extraneous characters should never be used. 

I know this is probably three rules, but they are really about exactly the same thing: accuracy. Identifying the places is crucial to identifying the people. In this particular pedigree line, it is never quite explained how the poor Welsh immigrants became related to the royal line of England. But here the place is in these old angle brackets which used to mean the place was a guess. Here they are just plain fatal. Any entries past this point in the family tree are nothing but fantasy (drivel, junk, etc.)

No. 4 Missing sources means what follows is unreliable fantasy, not just fantasy. 

Oh well, I could give you about a thousand screenshots of entries without any sources. Some descendency lines look like a long string of purple icons because none of the entries have sources. If you don't record a valid, evaluated source for your entries, just keep doing research until you can substantiate your entries. This is a really simple rule. If you can't find a source just forget putting in the name. For example, let's suppose that you just feel that John Jone's father was named Mr. Jones. Hmm. Guess what you might or might not be right, but before you add in Mr. Jones and his wife Mrs. Jones, do some research for their names and some events in their lives.

No. 5 When the child was born the mother was there. (This is really the first rule of genealogical research, but here it means that the places where the people lived have to be realistic for the time period involved and consistent. Any inconsistencies must be resolved with source records.)

Do you really imagine that your great-great-great (etc.) grandmothers ran around from county to county in England having babies? The same rule applies to the rest of the world also. This is another fatal error for those who believe in teleportation in the early 1800s and on back in time.

Am I through with fatal errors? Oh, let's see. Making stuff up is always fatal. Claiming you have a source but never providing the source to anyone challenging your entry is not only fatal but unfair and verges on cheating.

No. 6 We are finally to something that is not quite fatal but may be on occasion. That is extending the teleportation rule to immigrants. Just because the U.S. Census record says your ancestor was born in Germany does not mean that you can stick on the first person with your ancestor's name you find in German records. 

This is a fairly common error. One of the most challenging issues in genealogical research is discovering the origin of an immigrant. It might be as easy as finding one connecting record or may take years of research. It doesn't help the situation to make believe that you have found the place of origin and stick in the first likely name. All that does is make less skeptical researchers spend time doing unnecessary research and add on more fantasy.

No. 7 Place is not standardized.

It's too bad they didn't use a different color icon for this notice. A non-standardized place name is not a fatal error. It is more like eating junk food. Most of the non-standardized places and dates in the Family Tree are inherited from paper genealogy when there were only a few limited spaces to record information on the forms. Today we are trying to create a master file of every place on the earth where an event occurred, including their historical and sometimes lost names. This aids the computers in finding the right people and helps us to make sure the places actually existed at the time of the events. Take the time to check and double check the places.

No. 8 A list of Birth Names.

This error is like have a seasonal allergy. Here is a rather short example.

By definition, the birth name is the name we find on the earliest available record for the person. This list in the "Other Information" section has been automatically generated by the program and indicates the number of variations of the person's name that have been submitted by the earlier contributions to FamilySearch and its predecessors. This is basically excess fat and these names need to be deleted. They serve no purpose. If there is a genuine issue with the name of the person, you can add an alternative name, a nickname or an "also known as" with an explanation and a source or sources to explain the issue. But unless they add information, they can be and in most cases should be deleted and the "real" birth name is the one that is recorded as the primary name on the detail page.

Well, there are certainly a few other ailments that are worthy of notice or mention, but this list might give you a good idea that we need to be very aware of the health of our portion of the Family Tree and probably our own health also.

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