Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fixing Online Family Trees - One Person at a Time on

Since I have contributed a number of profiles to many online family trees over the past 15 years, I need to try to correct erroneous relationships and information that have been added by myself and other researchers over time.

One example of this process is the profile on for my immigrant ancestor, Robert Seaver (my 9th great-grandfather, 1608-1683), who came to Roxbury, Massachusetts in March, 1634 aboard the Mary and John.  He married Elizabeth Ballard and two other spouses, had seven children, and thousands of descendants.  I have been unable to identify parents of Robert Seaver in my 27 years of Seaver research.  He was born in England to unknown parents.

Here is the profile for Robert Seaver (1609-1683) on (two screens below):

A careful look at the relationships shows that this profile has parents, Thomas Seaver and Mary Woodrorke, several siblings, three spouses, and seven children.

The profile for Thomas Seaver (1572-1674), the purported father of Robert Seaver (1608-1683), is shown below (two screens):

Below the profile information on every profile are tabs for Overview, Media, Timeline, Discussions, Sources and Revisions.  I wrote a Discussion item several days ago, and it is listed under the Discussions tab.  Here is the Discussion item expanded:

On the Discussions tab, I wrote on 23 February 2015:

"I have found no evidence in 26 years that Robert Seaver of Roxbury (1608-1683) was the son of anyone, let alone a person named Thomas Savory (how did it get to be Seaver on Geni??). There is none to my knowledge, but I have not looked at every parish register in England for it. Robert Seaver came in 1634 on the Mary and John and settled in Roxbury Mass.

"Did Thomas Savory leave a will that names Robert Seaver as a son? Are there parish records in England for the birth of children of Thomas Savory?

"IMHO, the relationship of @Robert Seaver (1608-1683) to Thomas Seaver/Savory and Mary Woodrocke should be deleted."

There were several responses by Curators, who keep good tabs on discussions as they occur.  The most useful was by Ben M. Angel, who wrote:

"Severed the doubtful parent connection and replaced with an Unknown Parents cap. There is one child that probably needs to be researched as most secondary sources (SmartMatches) seem to indicate that Savory was the name given to him. So far, that individual and his wife are not MPed."

Ben's actions severed the relationship of Thomas Seaver/Savory with his purported parents, but not the relationship of my Robert Seaver with his purported parents.  

The only information in the Overview for Thomas Seaver/Savory is a Plymouth Colony record summary that calls him Savory throughout, based on an online genealogy report that lists only one daughter for Thomas Savory and his wife.  

I made another comment today asking:

"Ben, My issue was really with Robert Seaver (1609-1683) being the son of Thomas Savory/Seaver and his apparent wife Margaret Woodrorke.

"Perhaps I should have written the discussion on Robert's profile. Can you sever the very doubtful parent connection for Robert Seaver's parents and replace it with an unknown parents cap?

"Thank you -- Randy Seaver"

I think this will work out well, because I've found the Curators to be responsible and logical persons, and good judges of sources, records and evidence.  I appreciate the efforts of the Curators to respond quickly to Discussion items.

I know the goal of and other online connected family trees (where anyone can add, revise or delete information) is to be as accurate as possible.  Those of us that have contributed to these online trees have the responsibility to review the information in the person profiles and collaborate with the profile managers and the curators using the Discussion tools provided and hope for agreement among those concerned with the profile based on sources and records.

I am late to this effort - I have not paid close attention to the profiles for my ancestors on and other online family trees over the years.  But with the proliferation of "relationship calculators" on these trees, it's become important to get them as correct as possible.  I will add some sources and more notes (Robert Seaver already has my notes someone copied from my website) to my ancestors on a regular basis.

I'm not picking on here - I will look at the other online trees to see what they have for Robert Seaver and his wife (I did a Discussion item there on too) and try to make the profiles as accurate as possible for posterity records.

If my readers have added profiles to and other online family trees, they should review the information on those profiles, add sources and notes, and use the Discussions tool to collaborate with other interested parties.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Ashley said...

It's good to hear you've had good experiences with Geni Curators!

One of the consequences of some genealogists pooh-poohing Geni and other collaborative trees for so long is that their voices and knowledge were -- obviously -- left out of the building process. We've been busy working with 85,000,000 profiles and some haven't gotten quite as polished yet as they should be. I feel like that's understandable. More hands always makes lighter work.

But the good thing is, as more and more skeptics accept that 1) collaborative genealogy *is* the future and 2) the other sites have no way to compete, people are finally joining Geni and helping fix up the errors they find. I've always contended that it takes way more time to complain about a mistake on a profile than it does to click "Edit," fix it, and save. I suspect that as you yourself are working on Geni, you're finding that to be true; it's a pretty simple process.

So I invite everyone to bring your wise minds, experience, and sources on over to Geni and at least try it out. I'm always willing to help new folks out, as are all other curators. And most non-curators in the Discussions area are just the same. :)

I'm really glad you've gotten more active with our tree, Randy. Let me know if I can ever help with your lines.