Thursday, October 09, 2008

Cooking the books


Just what sort of family history are you cooking up?

Years ago it was Enron "cooking the books" by under-valuing losses and over-valuing stock, just so the big bosses could sell and make millions. Those are the exact millions many Enron inventors lost when reality caught up with such illegal activities. More recently, the outgoing AIG boss asked that last year's bonus calculations wouldn't include the losses that took place in the same time period. (Gosh, the rest of us must work on a net profit/loss basis.)

In addition, that AIG boss left with a 15 million dollar golden parachute, unfortunately too late to participate in this week's $440,000 luxury get-away (including some $23,000 in spa treatments) enjoyed by AIG insurance salesmen just a few days after a multi-million dollar government bail-out was received. I heard late last night AIG is getting another $85 million. The numbers are mind-boggling. No wonder the world's markets are facing unprecedented losses, with banks and mortgage companies being nationalized by their respective governments in an attempt to stabilize our global economy.

Let this world-wide chaos be a lesson to family historians who must avoid "cooking the books" at all costs.

Let us not throw ingredients into our family history stew that will sour the result.

Good family histories are more likely to remain palatable if these simple guidelines are followed:

  • Avoid jumping to lineage assumptions too soon.

  • Never take a website's compiled genealogy as truth.

  • Interpret a surname book as merely a list of clues to finding source documents that may or may not prove familial relationships.

  • Forget about believing everything found in a county history or an 1880-1920s "mug book".

  • Cite every source checked.

  • Resolve conflicting evidence source documents may pose.

  • Consider taking advice from more experienced cooks, err.. genealogists, by attending seminars and conferences, and asking for a professional review of your family history stew.

You don't want to end up with a mish-mash of goulash.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

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© 2008 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved. This and previous blog entries are fully searchable by going to Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to
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