What are these Ancestry.com databases or record collections mentioned in the previous post about early New England ancestors? I mean the databases with files on New England ancestors who are sometimes shown as born in Massachusetts or Connecticut before 1620.
Ancestry.com has a “hint” system that points its users to an array of resources including census records; birth, marriage and death records, and contributed family trees. Hints also point to records such as the following, where I have found problems:
> Family Data Collection – Individual Records
> Millennium Files
> American Genealogical-Biographical Index, or AGBI
What are these?
Ancestry.com describes Family Data Collection – Individual Records as a “database containing 5 million genealogical records (20 million names) that were saved from destruction after being rejected from scientific studies. The Family Data Collection records were created while gathering genealogical data for use in the study of human genetics and disease. Compiling data for genetic research does not require the same type of documentation as traditional genealogical research. Use this database as a finding tool….”
Given this source for the Family Data Collection, it is no wonder that there are so many cases of early New Englanders shown as born in Massachusetts towns before 1620 and in Connecticut towns before 1633.
Ancestry describes the Millennium File as “a database created by the Institute of Family Research to track the records of its clients and the results of its professional research. It contains more than 880,000 linked family records, with lineages from throughout the world, including colonial America, the British Isles, Switzerland, and Germany.”
The description also states that “one of the things the Millennium File focuses on is linking to European nobility and royalty.” It says as well that source information “is also provided in this database, making it easier to verify the accuracy of the research done.” However, I have not found that to be true. The source listed is simply Heritage Consulting. The Millennium File. Salt Lake City, UT, USA.
As noted in Part One of this series, some Millennium File records contain births of early New Englanders before the arrival of the Mayflower.
Ancestry describes the American Genealogical-Biographical Index, or AGBI, as “one of the most important genealogical collections… the equivalent of more than 200 printed volumes. This database contains millions of records of people whose names have appeared in printed genealogical records and family histories.” It notes that the source of the index is Godfrey Memorial Library. American Genealogical-Biographical Index. Middletown, Connecticut, USA.
A key challenge with this database is that some of those who entered data from the Index into the Ancestry.com database used the space for “Birthplace” in a curious way. The line may say “England, Massachusetts, shoemaker,” for example. Does this mean born in England, migrated to Massachusetts, or born either in England or Massachusetts? The user is left with a conundrum.
In addition, Ancestry does not provide access to images of the original AGBI pages as it does so well with other sources such as the census, family history books and more. If the actual images were available, the usefulness of these records would increase.
Alert to Ancestry.com users: The problem that has been created by the above databases is that the errors in them have been propagated across thousands of family trees on Ancestry.com. Now, when new suscribers begin working on their New England ancestors, they find the errors both in the records from these databases and in many shared family trees. Thus, it becomes easy to assume that the information is correct – and to merge it into one’s own tree. So the spread of the errors continues.
In the next part, I’ll look at solutions to this problem including use of historical timelines.
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