RootsTech 2014

Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, June 27, 2011

What I forgot about evidence in the last post

What I forgot to mention in my last post about evidence was what is in New.FamilySearch.org about the other Mayflower passenger, Richard Warren. Please take a second to read the quote about Richard Warren in the last post. OK, if that is too much of a bother let me summarize. After about 300 years of research, in 2002, researcher Edward Davies found the will of Richard Warren's wife's father where Richard Warren's name is mentioned. That's it folks. No one yet knows the name of Richard's father.

But all those countless Mayflower genealogists have just been given their walking papers. All they really had to do was look in New.FamilySearch.org. Not only do they have Richard Warren's parents but the line goes back 39 generations. Yes, you read correctly, 39 more generations to Mr. and Mrs. Fornjotur in 0135 in Finland. Oh, there is an alternate wife, he could have been married to Gonnor Gorrettsdotter. King Fornjotur was the first Kvenland king born in 160 and died in 250. Oh, well what are a few years off in the dates when you can go all the way back to the first king of Kvenland which I suppose is really Finland in its older form.

All of this without one shred of evidence. Not even so much as a passing nod to evidence. Perhaps if the people who have submitted this lengthy ancestry for Richard Warren had bothered with the first element of the Genealogical Proof Standard, they would have stopped and not spent all that time copying out old Finnish kings.

Now, we have quite a bit of information in New FamilySearch but not a lot of evidence. By the way, I am not picking on New FamilySearch, there is nothing wrong with the program that dumping all the bad data wouldn't solve. By the way, in the interest of fairness and equal time, there are literally hundreds of Public Member Family Trees in Ancestry.com with Richard Warren and his wife Elizabeth Walker that do not show any parents for Richard Warren. But, they have their share showing generations of ancestors for Richard Warren, but what do you expect?

Now, we get to the second element of the Genealogical Proof Standard, complete and accurate citation of sources. The Ancestry.com Family Trees are notable for the preponderance of trees completely lacking in any sources at all. But the underlying question is more important than a simple lack of sources, even if there are sources cited, are the sources evidence for the facts they supposedly support? I am sure that there are sources for the Finnish Kings line, but just because there is a source (i.e. a set of data or facts) does not mean that the data or facts are evidence for the claims being made.

Let me jump back to the chain of research or proof; information to data to facts to evidence to proof. Moving up the line is not an automatic proposition. Information only becomes data under certain stringent circumstances and the same thing can be said about each step. The lowest level of the legal standard of proof is a preponderance of the evidence so that supposes that there is evidence to have a preponderance of. (Ignore my bad grammar please). Likewise, evidence is made up of relevant and probative facts, neither or which are automatic attributes of facts themselves.

So what is lacking in the family trees? Facts. Evidence and of course, proof. Why is there so little proof of the family trees? Stay tuned for another exciting episode.

1 comment:

  1. To be fair New Familysearch had to bring in all the records from Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource file and IGI. While some of Ancestral File records do have sources the electronic version that they pulled from did not have sources. As for Pedigree Resource file or IGI I can not remember if they pulled the sources for them.

    The good news is in newer revisions(To Come) the sources will be revamped to allow to attach images. In addition to that all the old records will still be preserved but given lower importance level to items that are to be sourced will better provide. Sourced based genealogy in New FamilySearch will come over time and with the work of the current and new generations verifying previous generations suggestions and previous research.

    You might find the following article interesting. It is a whitepaper on what they plan do with NewFamilySearch.

    https://help.familysearch.org/kb/guides/en/The_Case_for_Our_Tree_FamilySearch.pdf

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