How reliable is the Millennium File?

+12 votes

I recently learned of the Millennium File. This is a database, searchable through an subscription. The description reads this (emphasis mine because I'm hoping to attract the Euroaristo crowd here):

The Millennium File is 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. Many of these lineages extend back to nobility and renowned historical figures. In fact, one of the things the Millennium File focuses on is linking to European nobility and royalty. A good way to have success in using this database is identify at least one Gateway Ancestor. A Gateway Ancestor is an early American immigrant who has been identified as having roots in British or European nobility. In this database there are about 300 Gateway Ancestors, or in other words, there are about 300 individuals who have proven ties to nobility or royalty. Source information is also provided in this database, making it easier to verify the accuracy of the research done. The Millennium File is a compiled source and is similar in form to other linked databases, such as Ancestry World Tree. Databases like these are great starting points for beginning your research. It is always good to find out what others have already learned and compiled about your ancestors.

My review of records within this database reveals NO citations.  I'm concerned that people are using information from this database as sufficient evidence for their ancestry. What do others know about this?


in Policy and Style by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (866k points)
My personal experience with the Millennium File is that it is riddled with errors. I have gotten to the point where I completely ignore the Millennium File records at when I am working on a profile. I have found that if there is an entry in the Millennium File, then there will be other more direct records available to back it up, so I just look for the direct references. If there is an error in the direct reference, at least I will know where it originated.

One example of a Millennium File error had my great grandfather born in Aurora, Illinois. I knew he was from Southern Illinois. I eventually paid to get his death certificate from the State archives and found that someone had misread the handwriting for Anna, Illinois as Aurora, Illinois, and they also misread his wife's maiden name of Morris as Thomas.

The Millennium File just adds an extra layer of human error on the data, and so to save research time, I just avoid it.

4 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer
That's exactly what is happening. However, you are talking about people who are having fun doing this as a hobby. If you want to verify the Millennium File you'll find publications for each nation that generally cover generations of the nobility, the descendants, who married whom when, etc. The Scottish Nobility books, for example, even include details of who was feuding with which neighbors over what insults. Fascinating stuff.

It is not very difficult to find local sources outside the genealogy business that provide either free information or charge access fees for information, such as libraries, universities, and sites maintained by genealogical hobbyists in other locations.
selected by Max Harrison
Where do you find these books?
I know this is a bit late to the discussion, but I've only recently joined this community, so I'm playing catch-up, so I might have missed other areas where this has been addressed.

I have an issue with defense of deflecting reliability as "just a hobby." I may have misinterpreted that statement, but there is a perfect example that can show how harmful that sentiment can be.

Braveheart, Patriot, and We Were Soldiers. These are "just movies," yet many outside the historical fields watch them like historical fact. We Were Soldiers does follow the events it covers more faithfully, but the older 2 movies are grossly inaccurate and offensive to the actual people who were involved in those situations.

Many Scottish political leaders during these past few referendums for Scottish Independence blindly use the events in that movie in their rhetoric. There are also many people of Scottish descent, or Scottish sounding names, across the globe who try to connect their lines to William Wallace. In history, he played such a minor role in the Scottish Independence War, and the way they treated Robert the Bruce, the real hero of that war, was problematic to the say the least. William also served as a mercenary for the English against the Welsh before the War, so not a farmer whose wife was taken and murdered. Also, Isabel was between 9 and 12 years old during that War, so no secret marriage.

There's more to the Patriot, but the most glaring problem I have is the church burning scene. That did not take place.

If you want a near-scholarly level, and entertaining dissection of all three movies I recommend watching History Buffs take on YouTube.
+6 votes
I've seen it cited as a source on WikiTree profiles, but haven't had much luck verifying the reference even when I am logged on to
by Becky Syphers G2G6 Mach 3 (37.7k points)
+8 votes
Use with caution as you would information from family trees or FindAGrave which may/may not contain sourced information. They can be valuable clues in research but, whenever possible, VERIFY with sources.
by Pat Credit G2G6 Pilot (174k points)
I agree. Definitely not sole-source worthy.
Thank you, Fann.
This "source" isn't even much good as a finding aid.  It is one of the "sources" included on PGM's unreliable list and subject to removal from PGM-era profiles.
If memory serves, "Millenium File" was a candidate to replace another unreliable source as example in the pre-1700 quiz. In the end "US and International Marriages" was selected, but my impression has always been that they were in the same league.
Agreed.  I cite it only when it is the only thing I can find and remove it when I find a more credible source.  I have found many errors.
+6 votes
It's no more reliable than using the unresearched family trees on Ancestry. There are so many errors in all that stuff.

Don't add it if you can't verify it.
by Anonymous Carlson G2G Crew (380 points)

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