26 March 2012

What to do with False Information

Our lives produce a lot of documents. This is helpful when researching our family history because we can use these documents to rebuild the facts of these people's lives. But what is really true?

A few weeks ago I discovered the Taylor Family Association website which includes an extensive family tree. As I was adding this data to my own database (I made sure to cite where it came from) I found a few errors.

If you'll remember, I really didn't have much information about the Taylor line so most of what I copied was new information. I did however already have some information for a John Ammon Taylor. Here's what was listed in the online database:

My own records showed his death date as 19 Feb 1921 and his burial date as 22 Feb 1921. So, I had to ask myself - Where did my information come from? Who was more correct, me or the online database?

The source for my data was John Ammon Taylor's own death certificate, which was made on the day of his death. I have no idea where the information on the online database came from, so guess what I did....

I still added the information to my database! Why? So I know that it's wrong! See how it's crossed out?

I use RootsMagic5 and I can enter multiple facts for the same event, in this case Death and Burial. I added the incorrect dates from the website database and cited that database as the source. I then changed the "Proof" field to "Proven False" so that it would cross out the event. I also added a note saying "No source for this INCORRECT DATE in the database. I believe the death certificate." Later, I went back and checked the "private" box so that I could choose if I wanted it to print on reports I may want to share with others.

This will be helpful for me in the future when I may run across information for a John Ammon Taylor stating his death date incorrectly. I can compare it to what I've already researched and know why I don't agree with that conclusion.

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