The above screenshot is from FamilySearch’s Family Tree. James Simmons happens to be my 4th great-grandfather. I always take a look at Family Tree and Ancestry.com’s public and private member trees to see what all is out there. That doesn’t mean that you start copying everything your find into your file willy nilly. Anything you see is merely a clue.
You notice that James has birth and death dates. That is pretty impressive considering how far back in time we are looking at. Where did this person get these exact dates? There are no sources listed. The first thing I would do is I would e-mail the submitter and ask them where they got the dates. In this case I already know the answer to the question because I am the submitter. So why didn’t I include the source information? I was using Legacy to interface with New FamilySearch (the predecessor to Family Tree) and uploading sources was not possible. I do need to go back and fix that though. I have his exact birth and death dates because those dates are recorded in his son’s Bible which survives.
Even if the entry is sourced, you still have to verify that source. If someone cites a marriage certificate you want to see that marriage certificate yourself.
Tomorrow we will look at an example from Ancestry.com where the information is not correct and many people have recorded that incorrect information in their trees. That is why there is a big red “but” on the slide.
Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis