I frequently find an interesting dichotomy in genealogy work. While most folks focus on producing high quality, documented work, there many folks who focus on “quantity” over “quality”, which in my book is a very poor approach to genealogy for several reasons.
First, genealogy without documentation and proof is merely fiction. While family legends and lore can often lead us to the facts, without facts to back up the stories, legends, and myths of our ancestry, they remain nothing much different than a good episode of Star Trek: fun ideas, potential, but fiction nonetheless.
Second, our work MUST be done to stand the test-of-time! I highly doubt in 100 years anyone is going to look back on my work on my family tree and judge my efforts on the basis of how many names there are. Rather, if they are truly interested in a specific branch or person, they are going to look for the documentation and proof that this person was truly a blood or marriage ancestor. Yet, time after time, I see folks focus on how many names there are in their tree and poo-poo the need for any documentation, since ‘my tree is so big, I simply cannot attempt document it’. Size is NOT an excuse to leave your family ancestry work unfinished!
Third, our work must be as complete as possible. Again, in 100 years, when that person looks at my work, I believe they are not going to be impressed if it is half-arsed and sloppy. If they have to go back and do the work I was too lazy to do, then what good am I REALLY doing them? If we are going to take the time to add a name to our tree, we should provide some documentation to show that it belongs there!
Fourth, our work is history. Family history. Like any history, we should do our best to ‘tell it like it really was’ and not just place something out there for future efforts at historic revisionism. As we all know, the farther away from the person we get, the harder it is to fully explain them, understand the times they lived in, and what the fabric of their lives was woven around.
I am sure by now you get the idea I am talking about …. or simply tired of me going on about it, but I am a huge believer in documentation and proof!
When I was first starting out in genealogy I wasted hours, hours, and way more hours following what I thought were good leads from non-documented trees. I rue the loss of those wasted days of chasing a listing that turned out to have more in common with the white rabbit in Wonderland than any ancestor of mine.
So in this age of counting everything ….. remember that as genealogists we need to focus on quality work, not simply compiling numbers of names.
Thanks for reading and now …..
Onward To Our Past!