Saturday, July 21, 2012

Weekend Wonderings: Debunking?

This week the New England Historic Genealogical Society email publication Weekly Genealogist (July 18, #592, not yet in the archive) reported on responses to a reader survey question: Have you ever debunked a family myth? Editor Lynn Betlock quoted one that involved a diehard relative who maintained against the evidence of the 1900 census and an obituary that a male ancestor had deserted his family.

Now that's impressive. I have an undying fascination with how people can continue to believe in the face of evidence. How do they do it?

Harold Henderson, "Weekend Wonderings: Debunking?," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 21 July 2012 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]


Michele Simmons Lewis said...

I have debunked a couple of minor family myths. I have to say that in all of the cases I thought something was fishy and I specifically went out to debunk them. Knowing that the stories sounded fishy in the first place gave me a head start :)

Harold said...

Agreed, Michele. It definitely helps to have a good "fishiness" detector, and the more experience we get the better that detector gets. Did you get any serious pushback, or did people generally agree with your debunking?

Judy G. Russell said...

Oh yeah... when DNA disproved a Massachusetts origin for one of my ancestral lines, one cousin kept trying to insist the DNA must be wrong. People get emotionally attached to stories and don't want to let them go.