Re: Citation of Ancestry family trees (actually, I think they're unproven)

 
 
 
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Donnagwd
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Re: Citation of Ancestry family trees (actually, I think they're unproven)

Another descendant of my great grandfather has uploaded numerous family photos and other documents on Ancestry, and her family tree and many others identify him with a first name that I consider to be undocumented. (This name is not used in any document she has uploaded, or anywhere else I have ever found.) When writing about him, I am only stating that a family researcher has identified his name as _____   ________ and that numerous Ancestry trees have recorded it as such.

How do I footnote the search of the Ancestry trees and the prevalence of the name? 

EE
EE's picture

Donnagwd, this would be a straightforward citation to an Ancestry page/database/article/whatever—followed or prefaced by a statement such as the one you've made above. If you have EE's QuickSheet for Ancestry, just use the "Basic Template" on p. 1.  If you have EE itself, almost any Ancestry citation is adaptable.

There's also a long thread on this at https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/citing-ancestry-member-tree.  More recently, Ancestry has reconfigured its URLs for trees, as a result of which we can cite the tree more precisely to make it more easily retrievable. In a recent published article of mine, I used the following format:

In my working file for the man who was the subject of this article (John Watts), you'll find a number of other examples. A copy is posted at https://historicpathways.com/download/WattsJohnRevJPResNotes070316.pdf.

The Editor

Donnagwd
Donnagwd's picture

Thanks for the example - but I was hoping to cite the numerous Ancestry trees without pointing out one in general. Is that possible?   Perhaps I should model your general comment "Many online tress assert...." without singling out one that might belong to a relative I don't want to offend? 

I can handle a citation to a specific tree. 

BTW, an honor for EE herself to weigh in on my question. I'm having such fun trying to work out citations these days. 

 

 

Donna White-Dropkin

Donnagwd@gmail.com

Donnagwd
Donnagwd's picture

I think I've ended up here: 

See, for example, Ancestry "Public Member Trees," ,<i>Ancestry.com</i> (http://www.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1030), Sidney Treesdale

(Sidney Treesdale is ficticious name for this example.)

 

This is similar to the footnote two you provided in Watts article in the summer NGS quarterly.

Donna White-Dropkin

Donnagwd@gmail.com

EE
EE's picture

Donna, your concern about singling out one person is understandable. It's an issue every reliable researcher is conflicted over. Certainly, in this forum where we are discussing citation in general, there is no need to single out a specific tree with a negative label attached. You've handled this well.  On the other hand, there are circumstances that do justify citing a specific example. For instance:

  • When we research a specific person or a specific family unit for which a number of public sources allege something that is unproved, we have to address what we perceive to be the error and explain why we are challenging it.
  • As with the snippet I used in my earlier reply, those trees may make an undocumented assertion for which we've found some indirect evidence that deserves to be pursued. Making that point in a reference note and identifying at least one representative tree lays a foundation for that future work.

The Editor

Donnagwd
Donnagwd's picture

Thank so much for your comments, you've given me lots to think on.

Donna White-Dropkin

Donnagwd@gmail.com

ACProctor
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I must have missed this post when it first appeared.

Just a short while before it appeared, I had cause to mention selected Ancestry Public Member Trees in a blog-post (http://parallax-viewpoint.blogspot.com/2016/10/more-on-george-hearson.html) because they were all wrong, they were obviously copies, there was no citations or source links at all, and they had no other form of proof justifying their claims.

I wanted to highlight their presence as refuting them was quite easy, but I didn't want to single out just one. Also, I had briefly been in touch with one of the "creators" who didn't seem to have any concept of source or justification. They simply recoiled and went quiet when I suggested that they were not directly related to the main subject of my research. People can easily become offended when your research overturns their "clear" picture of their family's history.

I did try to create a query that could be cited to enumerate all the guilty trees, but it proved to be a bit messy. In the end, I decided not to cite them at all, but simply copy their erroneous parts into my blog-post for comparison. Thay way, no one would be directly criticised, and my blog-post would not be impacted by them actually correcting their trees -- if they were so inclined.

Tony

 

Donnagwd
Donnagwd's picture

I just read your blog post, Tony, very nice job of laying out the evidence.  Thanks for sharing your dilema.

 

Donna

Donna White-Dropkin

Donnagwd@gmail.com

ACProctor
ACProctor's picture

Thanks Donna, you're very kind.