Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Genealogical Truth . . . and Nothing But The Truth!

Just an FYI: I've posted an interesting item at my new website, High-Definition Genealogy, which relates a recent legal case in Ohio involving a lawsuit and one family's history.

I won't go into detail of the legal proceeding - you can read more here - but I think the situation highlights what can be a problem especially for beginning or novice genealogists.  As a researcher I always follow the Genealogical Proof Standard in documenting family history whether it is my own or that of a client. As long as you can stick to the facts and be able to substantiate your conclusions with source citations, you should have no fear of any legal proceedings.  If someone - a colleague or a family member - disagrees, then let them prove their own theories and conclusions using the same process and standards.  This become scholarly dialog - not a reason to go to court.

However, if as part of writing a family history, you take family folklore or mythology and make it appear as fact, you are treading down a murky path.  At the very least, if you feel the need to include such stories then make sure you label the source, as in "as told during the 2009 family reunion in Funks Grove, IL by Aunt Susie Silvertongue" or something along those lines.  I would also make certain that I got the story correct and check with Aunt Susie - it also doesn't hurt to ask permission to include the story.

© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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