Genealogy Friday: 3 Negatives of Published Family Histories

Last week I shared about the positives of published family histories and how important they are in providing clues.Family-History-Title

This week, I want to warn you about family histories.

Don’t get me wrong—they are great!  Last week, I gave you three reasons why they are great.

However errors can be made in publishing these family histories.


  1. The compilers of these histories were human. They made mistakes. They had their own lives to live.  Maybe they were in a hurry and couldn’t check every source and record.
  2. Don’t take everything that is published as the gospel truth. The compiler could have been given inaccurate information from others.
  3. Take the time to do the research and confirm the facts.

Recently, one of our families decided to update the published family history.  This included over 100,000 people.  One of the biggest complaints was that there were so many errors.  I’m not sure why they had so many but I heard this complaint time and time again from family members.

So take the time to check the facts.research

The three easiest ways to do this are:

  • Either with the individual in question {if possible}
  • Using census records {available from 1790-1880; 1900-1940}
  • Through obituaries

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