This week I will be mostly working on a family tree for a friend....
Hooray! The start of a new tree is always completely fascinating. New names, new stories, all exciting (if you like this kind of thing!) However, it has reminded me of something which happened when I first looked at my own mother's side of the family.
My friend had shown me a photograph - a Victorian family grouping. She knew the names for one or two of the people shown but was hoping that I might identify some of the others in the course of my research. It is a classic picture of three generations all posed in a garden.
Whilst searching on a genealogy website, I came across a "public member tree" - a family tree that has been created and shared on that website by a member - which appeared to have a copy of the same photograph attached to it. Even better, it had names attached to all of the participants! I had a brief "struck gold!" moment before I remembered my previous experience with such trees....
Whilst researching my mother's family tree, I came across a number of public member trees which included members of my granddad's family. He had a number of siblings so this was not surprising.
What was surprising was to discover that my own mother had emigrated to the USA and had died in Iowa or some other US state that I had barely heard of!!!
There was no way of knowing which of these public tree creators had first picked out this American with the same name as my mother and attached them to their tree but clearly a number of people had found this first one and decided to copy it, for ease.
And the funny thing was that even though I knew that my mother was safely at home, doing the crossword with my stepdad most probably, it really gave me quite a jolt! There in black and white, a death date! A very very weird feeling, I can tell you.
So although it is wonderful to be able to share our findings, please beware! Beware of what other people have attached - make sure that you do not use other trees as your one and only source. And beware of what you put out there. As in all internet and social media situations, once it is out there, you can't take it back.