Friday, March 8, 2013

Reliable Sources???

I recently received this original newspaper clipping of the death of my dad, which was in June 1979. A very close cousin sent it to me after discovering it in one of her father's Bibles. Her dad and mom had also died recently, and their kids were sorting through some personal items. I am blessed to have a cousin who fully appreciates my quest for my family history! As a genealogist, I have read this new item many times; each time going through it with a different purpose in mind. The first time was a quick read simply to read through it from a family perspective, being that I am his first-born child. The next few times reading through it, this time much more carefully, and as a genealogist, was to glean every single bit of information contained in it.

Not surprisingly, I found the usual typos and spelling mistakes. When considering the inclusion of data from any item or document, we must first determine the original sources of that item. For example: this clipping has a few sources. 1. The person who provided the information, 2. The writer/newspaper employee who interviewed that same person in number 1., 3. The writer/newspaper employee who wrote the article., and lastly, 4. The newspaper editor.
When you consider all of the above people who are involved in or had a hand in gathering this information, then presenting it in this format, before automatically accepting all or even part of it, you must examine it with a questioning eye.
The first item I found as an information error, was his residency status. Looking in the last 2 sentences, in the 2nd paragraph, it states, "Mr. Guerin resided in Troy for the last three years, and in Watervliet for about 26 years. While in Watervliet, he was a communicant of Sacred Heart of Mary Church." Most people would read this and accept all that it says. Only very close, immediate family members, and other insiders, like very close friends will recognize the flawed information from those 2 statements. First of all, we left Watervliet shortly after I turned 7 years old to go live out in the country. We moved to a house with a fair amount of land located on Dunnsbach Road in West Crescent, N.Y.. We lived there for several years before moving down the same road to a bigger house with 20 acres of land. Secondly, my dad was never a "communicant" of Sacred Heart of Mary, or any other church. Both of my parents only went to church if there was a wedding, baptism, confirmation, or death. They were not regular church goers, nor did they drag any of us kids to go. We had one maternal aunt, (the mom of my cousin who sent me this clipping), who strongly believed in the Catholic Church. She was the one who came every Saturday morning to pick up me and my brother to go to Catechism. 
So, in closing, a word to the wise. The next time you come across, or receive any item of genealogical value, "Always consider the source!"

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