A wise friend, Tamura Jones, wrote an article titled Genealogy without Proof is Mythology, attempting to trace the origin of the phrase. No, I don't think the man is tilting at windmills. His study is a "type" for how we should conduct ourselves as genealogists -- attempting to find the source of information, rather than perpetuating a myth.
Tamura worked through his article's content, attempting to report occurrences of the phrase on the Internet, including time-qualified Google searches from 1994 to the present. Because I know Tamura, I trust his citations and quotes are accurate. However as a responsible researcher, I should spot check his searches to see if they can be duplicated. (If there are discrepancies, I'd have to work through them, wouldn't I?) Tamura also contacted numerous individuals who may have personal knowledge of, among other things, the supposed first expression of the phrase "Genealogy without proof is Mythology", including Ol' Myrt here. He was seeking information about the supposed originator of the phrase.
As I write this now, it occurs to me to suggest Tamura look through PERSI (Periodical Source Index) to see if the phrase is found in genealogical publications that are part of the Allen County Public Library's extensive genealogy department magazine and journal collection, some of which date back to 1847 publication dates. This might bring additional light to the subject, but I digress.
Basically, Tamura reported his findings, leaving them for all to evaluate. Some may have additional insights not known at the time he published the article. One advantage of the Internet is "putting it out there" for others to peruse and evaluate, possibly inspiring collaboration.
Objectively reporting findings and "putting it out there" are precisely what genealogists and historians must do when nailing down the origin of any idea, thought, or "factoid" about a historical figure ~ in the family or otherwise. Sadly, few quick-fix genealogists do this and so myths are perpetuated.
Sometimes phrases become so main stream, that they are just accepted as universal facts. Take for example:
- "The world isn't flat."
A second example might be:
- US President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald.
"Mom liked to lick butter from the butter churn."
isn't nearly as informative as:
"Grandma Frances told us how her daughter, our mom, used to get 'lost' at about 3-4 years of age. She said you could be sure to find her out on the back porch sticking her finger in the butter churn, licking the residue from the morning's work."
Didn't take much to include the informant, and her relationship to our mom, now did it? And it sure explained who told the story (our mom certainly didn't!) and set the story in the context of time.
As always let's CONSIDER THE SOURCE and be sure to mention it in our work.
Happy family tree climbing!
Your friend in genealogy.