Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How Do I Set the Record Straight... (Part 1)

In 1988, I went to a family reunion for my Mom's side of the family. This reunion also was a celebration of my great uncle Frank Rueff's 90th birthday. Uncle Frank's family put together a biography of the Rueff family starting with our immigrant ancestor, William Rueff. This was the most information I had ever come across in regards to my maternal lineage. It was a small book roughly 80 plus pages with a pedigree of the family listing all the descendants up to 1988.

Biographies of the key members of the family were written. The person and/or persons who wrote the biographies explained that the biographies were written over a decade from "conversations" with family members, family letters, encyclopedias, chronicles and almanacs. While these biographies were nice to read I believe that most of what I was reading was supposition. Then the questions started bouncing around my head, who had they interviewed? where were the recordings? who had them? My biggest question was where had they found the information on William Rueff?

The book listed the sources that were used to compile this information such as cemetery records, newspapers and court house records which I have corroborated with my own research. However, my dilemma now is key pieces of their research which were recorded conversations, letters, and family Bibles. How do I corroborate this information in 2014? The letters that are referred to are from those who died prior to 1988 and those that were interviewed are now deceased. How do I determine the validity of what I consider to be is lore because I have been unable to find the evidence to prove or disprove their research? 

I began researching my Rueff lines again trying to find what I may have missed over the years. By 2009, more than 20 years after this family celebration I was still unable to corroborate a lot of the information in this small history of my Rueff lines. How do I set the record straight without hurting family members whose research may not be entirely accurate? It is not my intention to hurt anyone's feelings or to declare their research invalid I only want to set the record straight for the future generations. 

Now in 2014, new collections from Europe on both Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org and more European records added daily I am hoping that I can finally find answers to my questions.


  1. Another resource that has just "opened up" in a big way is genealogy books in ebook format.

    Amazon recently introduced its Kindle Unlimited program, which allows you to borrow and read as many Kindle ebooks as you like, for $9.95 a month. I wonder if genealogists have grasped what a godsend KU may be. Here's why:

    In the genealogy section of the Kindle ebook store on Amazon, along with the how-to-climb-your-family-tree books, there's a huge number of reference and raw-data collections, from histories of specific families to ships' records, newspaper abstracts, etc. The problem with such books in the past has been that you didn't know until after you purchased one (whether a print or a digital copy) if it contained information relevant to your own research.

    With Kindle Unlimited, this pig-in-a-poke problem vanishes.

    Here's what you could do to further your research without gambling on books that may or may not have anything of use in them (to you). With a Kindle Unlimited subscription, you could borrow ten genealogy ebooks (the maximum allowed at one time). Then you could flip through them, or use your Kindle device's search feature, to find any information of use to you. If you don't find anything, then you can simply return them and borrow ten more.

    I know that these days, there are tons of information for ancestor hunters available for free or for a subscription fee at the dedicated genealogy websites such as Ancestry.com.

    But there's still a lot of data locked up in various small-press books and books by individuals writing their own family's story. Kindle Unlimited gives us genealogists a virtually cost-free way to unlock those books -- at least the ones that have been committed to ebook format (and you might be surprised how many there are).

    By the way, you don't even need a Kindle device to read Kindle books. You can download a free Kindle reading app for your smartphone or laptop that will do the trick. (Also BTW, I do NOT work for Amazon.)

  2. Hi Steve,

    Thank you for your comments! I didn't know about Amazon's Kindle but I do know that Nook is doing something similar. I have downloaded several family histories from Nook regarding my children's paternal line and those were free.

    Take care,