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Open Thread Thursday – Conflicting Versions of Family History

open thread

These week’s topic for Open Thread Thursday is:

Have you ever had your family history research challenged or questioned at your blog or website? In the past few weeks we’ve heard from a few readers who were dealing with either family members or other researchers who disputed the research posted on the site.

Understandably, for many of us we are protective of our genealogy research due to the effort we’ve invested in it. At the same time, naturally we would want the best information about our ancestors even if it meant correcting what we have listed.

There are many elements involved when handling a challenge to what you’ve posted publicly on your blog in terms of your family history: what is the genealogy experience level of the person making the challenge? were they friendly when they contacted you or did they take personal offense at what you had posted? Did they contact you privately or did they post a comment or even counter-post at their own site?

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Please either post on today’s topic of “genealogy conflicts” at your own blog and then post the link here in the comments or simply add your two cents in the comments section:

  • Have you ever been challenged or questioned by another family member about the genealogy research info you’ve posted? How about by a complete stranger?
  • What was your first reaction (true confessions here!)?
  • Did the person make the challenge in order cover up a delicate situation or to expose a previously covered-up situation?
  • How did the person contact you? Were they friendly?
  • What was the genealogy experience level of the person making the challenge? Did their experience level have an impact on how you handled the challenge?
  • And how was the matter settled if it was settled?

This is a great topic for this week’s Open Thread Thursday! And please, if you have a topic you’d like to see discussed among your genealogy blogging colleagues, please contact us and we’ll take it under consideration.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

6 thoughts on “Open Thread Thursday – Conflicting Versions of Family History

  1. There is someone not related to us who has lots of stuff online about our family and others that is wrong, wrong, wrong. I have documentation for my stuff.When I asked him about his info, he said he just does it for fun and what difference does it make? I have had several people question my research because they first got things from him. Hate to put someone down, but he is doing more harm than good.

  2. No, I have never been challenged, but I wish someone would. I think it would be fun to compare the research in question with another person and perhaps, together, seek out an answer as to where and why I or he/she may have went wrong.. For me, it would be a good learning experience.

  3. Hi Everyone, I have experienced both the good and the bad side of “challenges” to my research. The good came from the extended family of my paternal grandmother who kindly offered a correction about the date of death of her brother Frank. I ended up meeting with them when I was in Ireland, had a fantastic visit with them, and now keep in touch. On the other side of the coin, I received a vicious letter from someone (whom I will not identify) berating me for sharing family history online (“where all the perverts are”, to use his wording). In truth, and despite the personal attacks in the letter, I feel sorry for him because he does not recognize what a wonderful tool the internet can be, both for communication and education. I believe every experience and interaction, both the good, and the not so good, in doing family history research and writing offers an opportunity for learning. Whenever I feel uncomfortable about any aspect of my family history, I simply keep in mind the following: “Keep Calm, and cite your sources” (Thank you Thomas). It is impossible to please everyone all the time, but if you record your family’s history with the greatest respect, and accuracy, I truly believe you cannot be faulted. Happy Researching! Jennifer

  4. I’ve only been challenged once, so far, and it was long ago. I had information regarding my William Graves (1820-1908) of Princeville, Illinois, online. The exchange went something like this:

    She: I see you have information on my grandfather online. You need to make a correction – he was born in 1920, not 1820. And he would not appreciate having his information online, by the way.
    Me (thinking): Hmmm.. all of William Graves’ grandchildren and great-grandchildren are LONG dead…
    Me (wrote): Which of his children do you descend from?
    She: You are a terrible at this… his wife was MARTHA, not Rebecca, and he never set foot anywhere near Illinois!! It’s bad enough that you won’t respect our wishes for privacy, but if you insist on keeping this information online, at least GET IT STRAIGHT!!!
    Me (thinking): I’ve got to quit laughing so hard or I’m going to have an asthma attack! Lucky for me I didn’t hit my head when I fell off my chair!!
    Me (writing):
    Nothing. What can you say?? lol

  5. I have not been challenged, except for challenging myself. When I first started I included information that was not correct – wrong ancestor, etc. Later, as I became more familiar with my own family history and gathered more data, I realized my errors. You get attached to that information and sometimes don’t want to let go of it. I think I have matured however and now am very concerned about accuracy. I just wrote a post about this subject at my blog at

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