A record worthy of all acceptation means a genealogy that presents a correct and truthful interpretation of family history as found in existing records.  Unfortunately, due to poor record keeping systems, false information by nefarious individuals, or simply the inadequate skills and education of those collecting and recording data, the vast majority of genealogies fall short of the mark, resulting in a general loss of historical and family memory.  Such a loss multiplies with each generation, and in just one or two generations the record of whole families can be lost to the memory of society.

Millions of family lines translate into billions of records.  Yet there is only one rule that genealogy researchers need to remember as they gather the names of ancestors:

“Accurately identify and cite the sources for the information you record.”

There, class is over.  That’s all you need to know.  Yet somehow this message doesn’t often get across.  Genealogy information passes from book to paper, or like from mouth to ear like a form of gossip; titillating to hear, but no one can quite remember where it came from.  With each telling and each recording the story gets better; imaginary details are added, and the trail back to the source gets dimmer and dimmer.  Many years ago I coined what I call “Petty’s Paradigm on Prevaricated Pedigrees.”

Simply put:

Petty’s Paradigm on Prevaricated Pedigrees©

If you have an idea, It’s a possibility;

If you write it down, It becomes a probability;

If published, It becomes a Fact;

And if quoted, It becomes Gospel Truth.

The practice of documenting research and citing resources, or “sourcing” as some prefer to call it, is a concept that has existed in scholarly research for centuries.  Our eighth grade teachers tried to drill it into our minds as a “bibliography” when we first learned to write themes and research papers.  Today, genealogy events (names, dates, and places) should be documented and cited, so there is a specific description detailing the name of the record, the type of record it is, and where the record can be found with sufficient clarity that someone else can access it if need be.  Documenting your genealogy makes it possible for those who come afterward to continue the research without having to start all over. (Part 3 to follow)