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Archiver > ESSEX-UK > 2003-06 > 1056439467

From: Ruth Aylett <>
Subject: Re: chyrch church family essex england
Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 08:24:33 +0100
In-Reply-To: <>

Holly has made some excellent points there. I know from my own experience
though that the difference between primary, secondary and tertiary sources
has to be learned - nobody starts off understanding this unless they have
studied history professionally, and most of us haven't. When I started on
Aylett history, I found a lot of information on the IGI and it took me more
than a year of checking sources to understand that a large part of it
relating to families of the 16th-17thC was nothing more than (wrong) guesses
by LDS members, and worse still, another chunk was based on a set of early
20thC forged letters.

I'm not sure if it's as true in the UK, but a minority of those interested
in family history in the US (and I am _not_ referring to our recent visitor)
are _so_ keen to be associated with ancient and/or glamorous ancestors that
they swallow rumours from any half-baked - or even unscrupulous - source. My
Aylett study showed this was particularly true in Virginia in the 19th-early
20thC: the forged Aylett letters I just mentioned gave the local Ayletts a
set of glamorous knighted ancestors instead of the merchants they were
probably descended from. The family of the day believed these letters deeply
and implicitly, and those few remaining still do. They did not want that
belief challenged either. The web is a great communication medium but it
communicates rubbish just as well as good information, and it takes a while
to realise this and become more sceptical about what you read.


on 24/6/03 7:42 am, Holly McKenzie at wrote:

> While the brevity of her visit and unorthodox approach to grammar left me
> shaking my head, what I did find to be upsetting were the comments she had
> made about hiring a professional genealogist to do her research. Surely a
> skilled professional would be able to identify Castle Camps as in
> Cambridgeshire -- I did check Kelly's Directory for 1929 and, while it
> mentioned some land was transferred from the parish of Helions Bumpstead in
> Essex to Castle Camps in Cambridgeshire, it did not say that Castle Camps
> had previously been part of Essex.
> I was also concerned about the reliance upon Ancestry: "how i listed this is
> from ancestry .com so I apologize in advance for mis spellings or wrong
> areas", "sorry for spelling thats how it is on my paper from ancestry. com",
> "the documents that i have is from birth records, church
> records..." and "the townships that they were from was from ancestry and
> other professional genealogists that i have hired and who has helped me".
> Ancestry can be very helpful as a guidance tool, pointing out possibilities,
> connecting users with other researchers where they can then discuss their
> source material (which we have all copied down religiously since the time we
> started!), but perhaps it could be made clearer to newbies the difference
> between primary, secondary and tertiary sources -- not to mention those
> source-less leaps of logic (flights of fancy?) made by researchers of every
> era. I'm not condemning Ancestry, just aware that very much of what is
> there should be taken with a grain of salt. As for professional
> genealogists who are unable to do geography, I guess it's the same as with
> every service and you should check credentials before hiring. Despite her
> being in the USA and needing to hire a UK genealogist, my family history
> magazines are frequently listing e-mail addresses and websites both for
> checking credentials and for contacting the genealogists. It's not
> impossible to do from overseas. Everything in this "hobby" requires careful
> consideration.
> Oh well. It's a shame she unsubscribed. She was getting a lot of good and
> helpful information. No one had taunted or insulted her, just asked
> questions about the quality of the records she was relying upon for her
> family tree. Family trees become a gift to pass along to future
> generations. I can remember my excitement at finding a family diary from
> the early 20th century; I can imagine the excitement a descendant of hers
> may feel to find a family tree stretching back to the 14th century. But
> once that descendant starts to look at it in detail and investigate further,
> will he/she be grateful to gggg-grandma for writing it all down? Or will it
> take years -- and money -- to sort out the reality from the guesses?
> Hopping down off my soapbox
> Holly
> Cambridge, UK
> (north-west of Castle Camps)

Ruth Aylett Professor of Intelligent Virtual Environments
Centre for Virtual Environments, Business House, University of Salford
Salford, M5 4WT, UK Tel: 44-161-295 2912 Fax: 44-161-295-2925 "Life is beautiful"

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