I remember the joy of years ago when new family history data became available online. Being able to search online was a breeze, much easier than planning vacations around trips to libraries and historical societies. However the joy was dampened whenever I came across an online pedigree that was either foggy or completely incorrect. Nearly ten years ago I became so frustrated with online genealogy mistakes that I started my own surname website (Tennessee Pryors). Starting a website might not be your cup of tea, but there are three things you can do now to fix bad data online and create a cleaner path of inquiry for future genealogy enthusiasts.
1. Enter your details – Many of the best genealogy websites give you the option to post your data. The LDS FamilySearch.org website allows visitors (no church membership required) to submit their family data. Subscription websites such as Ancestry.com offer the user the ability to add multiple family trees and even post records, photos, and other documentation. Genealogy.com also offers space to post your genealogy and family tree. All community areas and dashboard areas of genealogy sites also allow you to post not just queries, but your data and recent genealogical discoveries.
2. Request information to change– I’ve communicated with other researchers with mixed results. Some are willing to change their pedigree or published data when new data supported by good source information is provided. Others rely on information passed down from relatives, misinformation from accepted stud books or other authorities, or in rare cases are unable to log in and access data to make changes.
3. Add comments– My favorite is to comment wherever the opportunity arises. The good news is that comments are allowed in a multitude of places on the web. Ancestry.com understands that users have something to contribute and allows comments: add a comment to a census record, put a note on the family tree, and identify name variations and clerical errors. Book reviews on Google Books or Ancestry.com are also a way to attach your opinion and alternative information.
The Internet is continually increasing the opportunities for an interactive genealogy experience. This means that whether you are an expert or a beginner you can get involved. Now is the time to take advantage of opportunities to participate and help increase the accuracy of online family history data.