Wednesday, January 30, 2019

My Philosophy Regarding GEDCOMs

With apologies to Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II and their wonderful “I Won’t Dance, Don’t Ask Me” ditty, I publish this manifesto:

“I Won’t GEDCOM, Don’t Ask Me!”

I have seen way too many family history files corrupted by the dreaded IACs, to coin a term—the Indiscriminate Ancestor Collectors. These are the people who seem to have the idea that he who dies with the biggest pedigree, wins. They download GEDCOM after GEDCOM from and, putting them into their own genealogy software files, and creating family history abominations where, as the great Dwight Latham and Moe Jaffe song goes, “I’m My Own Grandpa!” In these files, mothers are born after their children; fathers become potent at age 6 to sire their litters; and family groups are neither family nor a group.

Now, of course, these pedigree files never have sources, never leave clues as to how another researcher can follow up on their investigations to verify a fact independently. So, I declare that I am going to be a different sort of source for other family researchers who are tracing the UNDERWOODs, AHERNS, McCORMACKs, and STAPPs. I am going to cite my sources to the best of my ability so that my kissing cousins can say, “Well, at least I know where Christy came up with that fact.”

So, that leaves me with my manifesto:  "I Won’t GEDCOM, Don’t Ask Me!" I will not provide a file which someone can download to increase their ancestor collection: Sorry to tell them but in fact, size does not matter. What I WILL do, however, is leave footprints and breadcrumbs to help you in your search. I will share with the world whatever I find out. And I will do so knowing that somewhere out there is another family history hunter, happy to find what I have to offer and willing to put in the work to type or copy/paste my tidbits into their genealogy software program so that the family groups which I have worked hard to recombine will live on, without the click-of-a-button GEDCOM combining that so many people seem to do without thinking. I know that if I had found a site giving me clues to my ancestorsinstead of doing it all myselfI would have been thrilled. I'm banking on it that at least one other researcher feels the same way.

I wish you happy hunting and hope that you will share with me your favorite finds so that I may share them on this blog. Together we can find out more about the UNDERWOOD—McCORMACK clan than we ever could have done apart!


Coming Up Next: Of Census Predictors and Custom Facts

Coming Up Soon: The Census Extractor

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