(+) Is Your Genealogy Database Insane?

The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

I’d like to make a bet with every reader of this newsletter: I’ll bet five bucks that you have errors in your genealogy database. Keep in mind that I am not a gambler; I only bet on “sure things.” In this case, I am sure that I could win at least 90% of the bets, guaranteeing that I could then afford a vacation on some sun-drenched tropical isle.

I get to see a lot of genealogy databases and a lot of online genealogy information. Almost all of the data I see has errors. Luckily, many of these errors are easy to find with just a bit of electronic assistance from your computer.

I am not talking about subtle errors that require extensive genealogy research to resolve. Instead, I am referring to obvious errors. They can be called “crazy errors:” claims of mothers giving birth at the age of three, men fathering children at the age of 85, children being born before their parents, and other such “facts” that defy logic.

Not all of these errors are caused by sloppy genealogy research. They can be simple typo errors. For instance, I suffer from a disease that I call “dyslexia of the keyboard.” While I know how to spell most English words and almost always know the correct dates when I am entering data into my favorite genealogy program, what appears on my computer screen often has two or more keystrokes reversed! The most used key on my keyboard is BACKSPACE! Yes, I have created silly errors in my genealogy database in times past, and I am a bit embarrassed at how long it took me to discover and correct those errors. Looking at other genealogy databases, it looks like I have plenty of company!

Most of these errors can be identified within a very few minutes. The only complexity involved in checking your data is the number of facts involved. If you have 1,000 people in your database, then you probably have at least 10,000 facts. Today I will tell you how to quickly and easily identify the more flagrant errors.

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