There is a raging debate on whether private or public trees are better. You would think that it wouldn't matter either way but there are some pretty heated arguments on both sides. I follow James Tanner's, Genealogy's Star and Kerry Scott's Clue Wagon, both of which have touched on the same topic.
Usually I'm a good sport but when those of us with public trees are portrayed as the unwashed masses, I take offense. While I won't respond on other blogs or leave a comment that is less than polite, this is my blog where I get to say what I want.
I have public trees so others who are looking for the same information can find me. That is how we found 7 of my husband's missing siblings. If I had done a private tree, we would not have connected. That's a pretty big deal and a whole story by itself.
I don't say my trees are correct. The Rhea/McCollum is pretty clean but once in a while I am surprised. Not because it's wrong but because new information surfaces that makes me rethink my research. That recently happened on my Yeakley/Jones tree. A book written long ago and used as a source by many has been discredited. I contacted the Historical Society in Cocalico, Pennsylvania who confirmed the sources in the original document were not verified. Back to square one.
So here is my response to those who think I am poluting Ancestry.com and the other programs out there with my public trees. Clarification here: not everyone feels this way and I acknowledge those who don't share for personal reasons.
1. I don't care if you think my tree is incorrect. This is my journey for the truth. If you are looking at my tree and find an error, I am more than willing to correct it if you can provide the source. If you have information but don't want to share it, don't write to me.
2. I share. Letters, pictures, notes and stories are all out there for anyone who wants them. If someone copies them, so much the better.
3. My trees are a work in process. I add a person on Ancestry.com and view all the trees on member connect. I read each one and note the differences. I check for sources. If there are no sources, I might add it anyway. Here is where we differ. My research is public. If I find I'm wrong, my tree changes. I am not ashamed to say I have it wrong and I am really happy when I find I have it right.
I just found a missing great grandfather. Is the info correct? I don't know. More research will need to be done but it's out there on my tree until I decide yes or no. You shouldn't be concerned about how I do my research or what my tree shows. After all, it is my tree, warts and all. When they come up with a program (with public trees) where I can identify information as preliminary and leave it there until it is verified, then I will be quite happy. Right now, it doesn't work that way.
4. Family history is not alway about genealogy. I did my husband's tree before we found his biological parents. I didn't delete his adoptive parents, aunts or uncles. They are his history. I added his biological last name and started research on that side of the family. His tree looks wrong but from his standpoint, it's exactly right.
The debate is stupid. We're after the same thing. I wanted to understand what made my great grandmother tick. While doing the research, I was blessed to find cousins who were looking for the same thing. Together, we reconstructed her life and in doing so, found her soul. Isn't that why we're all working so hard?
Rant over, now back to our regular scheduled program of my fascinating ancestors and family friends.