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Beware of those who want to add information to your online family tree

I hear the complaint over and over again: People are putting incorrect information on their online family trees.

In some cases, well-meaning people give that bad information to others, sometimes overriding the true facts. Most genealogists are amateurs, and many don’t know how to evaluate a source — primary vs. secondary vs. hearsay.

So what should you do? If you’re using Ancestry.com, you should always be very careful when accepting a leaf or “hint.” If you know your genealogy well, or have done the research yourself, you should know if the hint is the real deal. But you can also refuse it. Ancestry now allows you, if you have opted into its new system, to leave a comment on a family tree disputing or amplifying the information. This is under “Tools.” Anyone looking at that entry can see your comment.

You can also leave a message for the owner of the tree, letting them know your take on the information, whether they accept it or not.

I hear complaints people changing the information on the Find a Grave website. You need to contact the site administrator there and learn how to counteract this. I have found one of the best ways to put the correct information in the public domain (that is, the internet) is to write a memo about whatever you are trying to straighten out and add citations from actual records. You can also share this memo with other researchers for their review to see if you have made your case. The memo will also remain in your files to be updated as you learn more, or to be found by your heirs. Creating a free blog is another way to get the facts out. You can place a copy of your documented memo there. You cannot expect the correct information to be found by everyone, but you should try your best to rectify the matter.

Tennessee Archives has new resource for genealogists

The Tennessee Library and Archives recently launched the all-in-one “Genealogy Index Search” that includes over a million names from its records. Go to sos.tn.gov/tsla and the index link is right there, along with separate links to Tennessee maps, Supreme Court cases (1809-1850), the Tennessee Virtual Archives on this great site for Tennessee research.

DNA scam, fake kits for sale

A recent DNA alert reminded people to NOT be lured into purchasing kits from companies that are not reputable. Stay with the well-known companies: Ancestry.com, FamilyTreeDNA.com, 23andMe, LivingDNA and MyHeritage. For more on the issue see https://7ny.tv/2xi7Z2s from WABC’s 7 On Your Side Nina.

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Contact Kenneth H. Thomas Jr., P. O. Box 901, Decatur, GA 30031 or gagensociety.org.

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