Documentation in Genealogy

A genealogy without documentation appears careless and someone who is careless with authorities can be just as careless with facts and family lineages.  The accuracy, and the integrity, of a genealogy statement is acceptable only if it can be verified–that means someone else can find it.

This is the axiom.  And  most genealogists subscribe to  it.

A second rule is that a credible genealogy will distinguish between proven facts that are documented with source references, conclusions drawn by matching conflicting evidence together, and family tradition which is still uncorroborated.

Begin with what you have…

Reality is that as  a genealogist seeking a lineage,  you take what you are given as a starting point.  For example, a biography of Maude Adams published in 1907, when Maude was at the peak of her theatrical career, includes the sentence:  “…is by ties of blood the kinswoman of two Presidents of the United States, a fact that she has modestly hidden but which attested and authentic records of genealogy prove.  One Joshua Adams was the cousin and boyhood chum of John Quincy Adams.”

The Barnabus Lathrop Adams family (Maude’s grandfather) has the consistent tradition that they are related to the Presidents, although the exact relationship had eluded their researchers.

There is no documentation for the comment nor is there any additional genealogical information in the book. The statement is a classic example of the tidbits of genealogy tucked into biographical accounts.

The sentence itself, however, is useful.  And the generations can be checked. Locations of the families can be checked. Ages of the boyhood chums can be checked.  Sources can be checked to determine if the lineages are the same.  And the relationship can be proven.

Now, although I have not cited any source in this blog for the information on the Adams family or for my own knowledge about them, there is enough here to follow up on to prove the lineage, if the family happens to be yours.

What often happens is the acceptance of the tradition without any attempt to determine if it is true.  And in this case, there is another item that you will want to know.  Joshua Adams was descended from Loyalists who moved to Canada before the Presidency of John Adams and stayed there until John Quincy Adams had served as President.

Is the connection true?

The identified connection may not be true.  Yet, the two families may share the same ancestors.  Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  Check in with my regular posts on Facebook.  My first research tip appears today.

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