Sustainable Genealogy: Separating Fact from Fiction in Family Legends
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Media: BOOK - paperback, 132 pages
Author: R. Hite
Other: b&w photos
Publisher: Genealogical Publishing Company
There are a lot of textbooks that describe how to find your ancestors; this new one by Richard Hite clarifies how NOT to.
In short 'Sustainable Genealogy' explains how to avoid the traps many family historians can fall into. Whether it's a proud family legend, a venerable publication or the claims of an Internet family tree, the unsubstantiated genealogical source is like a house of sticks before the Big Bad Wolf - it won't stand up. As Mr Hite demonstrates in this collection of case studies, many are the "oral traditions that have fallen by the wayside under the lens of careful research in primary sources and more recently, DNA testing."
Here are just a few of the lessons from Sustainable Genealogy that can protect you along genealogy's primrose path:
- Recognizing when identical surnames conceal different nationalities
- understanding when and why death certificates can be "wrong"
- Knowing when ancestors' middle names are not family names
- Respecting the role of geography in establishing ancestral ties
- Taking the genealogies in 19th century "mug books" with a grain of salt
- Accepting that all relationships must be chronologically plausible
Please Note: This is a US published book, so does have samples that are US orientated.
1. Recurring Patterns in Oral History
- "Written" Oral History
- Both Those Awful Names!
- Whom Did They Know?
- It Even Creeps into "Primary" Sources
- Every Family Has Stories
2. Ethnic Origins of Family Names
- From Deutsch to Dutch
- Not to Mention Two World Wars
- Consider the Neighbours - And the Given Names
- Right Name...Wrong Place
- Another Ancestor was Dutch - Netherlands Dutch, not Deutsch
- Same Name, Not Necessarily Same Nationality
3. Maiden Names of Female Ancestors
- The Married Name of an Aunt?
- No Male Relatives to "Claim" Her
- The Name May be in Your Lineage - Just Somewhere Else
- When Middle Names are Not "Family" Names
- Death Certificates Can Be Wrong
- Who Was the Informant?
- Expand the Search
- Did My Grandmother Date Her Cousin?
- Marriage Records Trump Death Certificates
- Follow the Trail til its End
- It May be the Wrong Grandmother
4. Relationships to Someone Famous
- Were They Neighbours?
- DNA can Prove or Disprove It
- Proximity: Clue, Not Proof
- Famous on a Smaller Scale
- They Were Rich - We Were Poor
- Nothing in Common But the Surname
- It Even Happens with Common Names
- Disowned? Not Likely
- Giving Up the Ghost - Don't Waste Time
- The Truth is Out There...Sometimes
- Losing the Popularity Contest
- Why Deny Truth?
- Eminent Scholars Trip Up
- The Connection May be More Distant
- Not an Uncle...But Related
- Don't Miss Out
5. Relationships to Royalty, Nobility or Wealth
- We're All Royalty Somehow
- But Finding Proof is Usually Just Pure Luck
- And its Probably Not a Recent Descent
- The Least Likely Explanation - Someone Was Disowned
6. Birthplaces of Ancestors
- It Was Just a Grocery Store
- People in the Know
- Right Place - Wrong Generation
- Beware of Published County Histories
- Authenticate the Immigrant Ancestor
- Again - Beware of Death Certificates!
- It was Wrong - But it Led to What Was Right
- How Far Away I Could Have Strayed
7. Military Service of Ancestors
- From Private to Major
- The General's Right Hand Man...
- ...Who Only Served Two Months!
- Suspicious Sign - Wrong Given Name
- Talk About Wild Goose Chases!
- Too Common a Name
- It Could Be True, But...
- Nothing to Joke About
- As Always, Rely Upon Primary Sources
- Postscript: It Was True After All!
8. Two or More Brothers as Immigrants
- Were They Ever Neighbours?
- How Close in Age Were They?
- It's in the DNA
- The Case of the Missing Brother
- Would 5th Cousins Really Resemble Each Other?
- Coincidental Arrivals
- Are They Even From the Same Country?
- When Brothers Did Emigrate Together
- How Common is the Surname?
9. Associations or Encounters With Famous People
- Is it Even Chronologically Possible?
- Half Truths and Pure Fiction
- Again - Chronology is Everything
- There Are Risks Involved
- When the Evidence Isn't There
10. Native American Ancestors
- The Tallest of Tales
- Daddy's Little Princess
- An Unusual Names - But Still English
- Fighters, Not Lovers
- There Was A Connection to the Trail of Tears
- Political Overtones - And Not Just For Politicians
- She Looks Like an Indian!
- But Her Parents were German Immigrants
- Elusive Maiden Name? She Must Have Been an Indian!
- Mixed Race Children - In Native Society
- Rejected by White Society
- Perhaps it was an Aunt by Marriage
- Were They Actually African-American?
- A More Common Canadian Phenomenon
- How the Popular Media Bolstered the Legend
- Some Want the Benefits
- DNA Can Help - Up to a Point
- An Early Feminist, Not a Native American
11. How Much Misinformation Can Be Crammed Into One Paragraph?
- An Inaccuracy Every Twenty Words
- There Was a Tory - Just Not Him
- A Local Rivalry
- A Neighbourhood Bully
- Their Memories Were Imperfect, Just Like Ours
- They Didn't Ask for Documentation
- What Might I Have Missed?