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Need advice on dealing with local historical/genealogical society...

Need advice on dealing with local historical/genealogical society...

Posted: 25 Jan 2008 9:00PM GMT
Classification: Query
A local historical/genealogical society has information posted on their website that appears to be inaccurate. This information was provided by the referenced individual's daughter, and I've seen this information cited multiple places including ancestry.com. It was also included in a history of the county this society represents.

I came across some documentation showing what I believe is the accurate information. The documented information makes much more sense from a geographical perspective and additional research resulted in additional sources with this same new information.

I had previously emailed the directors of the organization with some questions about the family to which this individual belongs. I had explained I am relatively new to genealogy and they were very friendly and helpful. This society has a dedicated page on their website where they claim to be open to corrections or suggestions of new information so I felt comfortable sharing what I had found. When I very politely provided a portion of the documentation I found to them for their evaluation they stopped responding to me. Two follow-up emails over several weeks went unanswered.

This has bothered me for several months and I have no idea what to do. I am relatively confident the documentation I've found is correct and the misinformation is simply an innocent error on the daughter's part or the person taking her statement. I realize the printed history cannot be corrected, but I hate that current/future researchers will continue to access undocumented and very probably inaccurate information when researching this family.

I welcome any ideas on what I can/should do in this case...

Re: Need advice on dealing with local historical/genealogical society...

Posted: 27 Jan 2008 4:37AM GMT
Classification: Query
I understand how misinformation can be annoying but in my opinion, move on. You've done what you could to try to convey the correct information and the support behind it. That's all you can do. They are probably a volunteer run organization with varying skillsets and limited time.

I cringe when I see illogical and/or erroneous information posted on family trees. But I also know that it happens to me too. I'll run a Family Tree Maker error report which points out potential discrepencies and wonder how I could have made those mistakes and wonder how many more might be in my database that aren't detectable by the error checking process.

As you pointed out the lady who posted it probably made an innocent mistake. It happens to all of us. That is the nature of data that is sometimes based on illegible or poor records, memories, or is subject to common errors like transposition of numbers.

Be proud of your own thoroughness and happy to convey the correct information in the future to someone who may inquire why your data is different.

Re: Need advice on dealing with local historical/genealogical society...

Posted: 25 Mar 2008 6:07PM GMT
Classification: Query
I'd also add that another approach could be joining the local organization as a volunteer, and helping to get a system in place for annotating existing data. There are many positive aspects of offering monitored annotations of a public record, including helping to bolster membership by encouraging the public to return to an online posting.

Inspired by the tools at Ancestry.com to annotate their online records, I sent an email to the main historical society in Wisconsin to request corrections to a state government index. I was amazed by their positive response; they were happy to make the changes because I included proof of inaccuracies in the published index - which is different than claiming inaccuracy in the records themselves.

Having said that, in later submissions of corrections, I successfully argued that the original interpretation of the spelling in a hand-written record could easily be reinterpreted.

In the local genealogical society, I've recently come across the attitude by a board member in charge of research services that the concept of spending time to offer corrections to posted information was outrageous.

I really do think of it as a personal ethics question.

Gary Rebholz
Milwaukee Wisconsin

Re: Need advice on dealing with local historical/genealogical society...

Posted: 5 Jan 2009 6:40PM GMT
Classification: Query
Have you considered posting the material someplace online yourself?

Re: Need advice on dealing with local historical/genealogical society...

Posted: 7 Jan 2009 6:27PM GMT
Classification: Query
I have. And I should.

I may be one of the few remaining humans that don't have their own web or blog page on which I could post such info. =) It would be good for me to learn and I hope to do so within the next several months.

Re: Need advice on dealing with local historical/genealogical society...

Posted: 10 Jul 2010 4:01PM GMT
Classification: Query
Perhaps the information/documentation you have could be posted to the appropriate county genweb archives or genweb site.

Re: Need advice on dealing with local historical/genealogical society...

Posted: 15 Jul 2012 7:11PM GMT
Classification: Query
Have there been any further developments in this matter?

Re: Need advice on dealing with local historical/genealogical society...

Posted: 15 Jul 2012 10:53PM GMT
Classification: Query
No, I haven't pursued it further, and I still haven't posted my documentation online either. As my dad would say I've been putting out fires elsewhere.

I did notice recently there seems to be another individual on Ancestry researching this individual, where before it looked as though I was the only one. I may contact them to see if they have anything relevant.

I've also considered joining the organization, as another poster suggested, but their meeting schedule conflicts with my work schedule. I'd never be able to attend.

Obviously, I need to get off my bum and do something!

Re: Need advice on dealing with local historical/genealogical society...

Posted: 19 Jul 2012 4:38AM GMT
Classification: Query
Not sure actually joining the organization would really make them more open to accepting the information you have. Posting it online would probably be the best way to go.
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