Even if you use an online tree for a “clue” and never intend on publishitree-ggmang that fact unless you can find separate documentation, you should still cite that clue–at least so that you personally know from where the clue was obtained.

It’s hard to know how much time should be devoted to following up on a clue if one does not know from where the clue was obtained.

Clues from thin air are difficult to use.



4 Responses

  1. I would simply say: “This is a clue from ( [place],[person], [thing], [etc.]; and then include enough of the surrounding information that I can understand the context/content of the given clue.
    I hope that makes sense to others.

  2. If it comes from an online tree and no source is cited, your source is the name of the tree, the owner and the web address of the tree page which contains the information. If a source is stated but you cannot access it, your source is as above plus the stated source with a note “Not Verified”. If the source is stated and you can access it, go to the source, verify the information and then quote it as your source. To acknowledge the other tree owner’s contribution add a note “Reference to this source was found on xxx tree yyy owner zzz web address”

    • I don’t add anything to my tree as fact that I can’t prove or the originator of the info can’t prove or provide a source. Instead the info is relegated to the a folder of interesting but unsubstantiated info. I regularly use clues to help search for info and find them very helpful and a theory may come of clues and I may state that theory but I’m careful to add that it’s unproven and no source has been discovered to support it. Family stories and urban legends fall into this category for me.

      I do like to give credit to other researchers and often add info to pictures such as “courtesy of so and so” or found here and then give a web address or other info. In my profile on ancestry I give thanks to all the researchers that took me by the hand and feed info to me as I was getting started some 20+ years ago. That said, my experience says this is not a common practice.

      People take docs I’ve spent hours looking for in dusty old courthouses and add them to their trees with no mention of me… oh, yes, on ancestry if you do a direct add, ancestry gives you credit but, if the person downloads and then uploads the info they get the credit for adding the info. Now, I really don’t care, I am more than willing to share anything I make public but, I know some people do care and can even get hostile over a document or picture.

      I’ve been contacted by people who said I used a death record without their permission and it turns out the great great grandmother is both of ours and I have as much right to the record as they do. And, they have no way of knowing if I borrowed/took their copy or got a copy on my own. Same with pictures, I’ve had people say I took their photo when in fact, the photo or a copy of it was in my family’s possession as well — people often made duplicates of pictures for the purpose of sharing.

      What interests me most in this discussion is the genealogy etiquette; acknowledging another person’s work is the polite and right thing to do. It’s, also, a smart thing to do for the longevity of your work. Akin to the idea of sourcing all the info we use on our trees, we need to recognize, these docs we find in repositories are public information and belong to everyone. Even some of the docs a family has held dear are most likely public info and only ever belonged to the institution that created the document; personal letters and journals are the exception and even these can be found in repositories as a collection of work.

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