who gives anyone the right to put your family members names on a family tree when they are illiterate?

–8 votes
in Genealogy Help by
You speak of "your family members," but perhaps you mean "my family members?" It is not clear who it exactly is who is illiterate: the family members or those who would put "your" family members on a tree with the questionable right to do so.

[Edit for a bit of clarity.]
Family history is a process. We learn more about our ancestors and their community everyday. And we learn how things we thought were set in stone really --- aren't. In my family, one group of mid 19th century siblings spelled their surname three different ways - Carnes, Curnes and Curns.  And my father told me the family name used to be spelled "Kerns", a spelling I have yet to find in any record.

It's not clear what your precise concern is, but there are various ways of communicating with the profile manager. If you look under "Comments", you will see you can email the profile manager with a trusted list request or leave a bulletin board comment. Also, where the profile manager is listed, there is an option to send a private message. Who knows, you may find a cousin you didn't you had. And personally, as an example, I have added profiles for spouses and parents of collateral relatives with the information I had and no intention to focus on those lines.They are part of my "soup", but still I'm sure there are other people who should be on the trusted list and even assume profile management. If asked, I would be happy to give them up to a more direct family member.
I cant speak for others but i am a terrible typist with a heavy touch that my touch screen doesnt not like even though I am trying... so i 'stuttterr' lol alot... I am quite capable of corrections and do so... sometimes. When its a story somtimes i dont bother... at the moment... other things have priority... the sourcework and data input. Just think i have a gggramm Laverie first known document and almost all legal docs but on her headstone its learvia, on census it is beyond belief what was come up with... i just note name variations on bulletin board so others see them... Idk hope this helps...

4 Answers

+8 votes
Best answer
Everyone has the right to research their family history, and to organize it online, and WikiTree is a great resource for this.  I'm not sure anyone has to 'give them' the right per se, and it would be a sticky proposition to suggest that WikiTree or any other public service should determine who is qualified and who is not.

Having said that, you may be finding information that is recorded directly from Census and other documents, and this often results in spellings that we are not used to seeing in modern times.  The Census taker may be spelling a name based on how he hears it pronounced, especially if the person he is enumerating is illiterate themselves and cannot spell it for him.  Additionally, the indexing of these records is frequently done by volunteers who must often decipher antiquated or downright poor penmanship.  They do their best, their work is checked, and they cannot make assumptions that what appears to be "Jamey" is actually James or Jamie.

I have an ancester named "Laretter" in my line.  I could 'correct' it to "Lauretta" but there is no documentation that shows this spelling.   I choose to record her name as it is documented, and this is a fairly common practice.  I choose not to impose my 21st century sensibilities on a 19th century forbear's name.

I hope this gives you some insight.  If you have better information and corrections to suggest to the person who has posted a shared family member's informtion by all means do so.  Just remember that this is a collaborative effort here at WikiTree.
by Michael Gabbard G2G6 Mach 1 (19.7k points)
selected by Allen Minix
+10 votes
I'm new here, but I'm going to answer this because I think I understand at least some of the underlying issue.

I don't think it's a stretch to say that modern genealogy is built on the work done by Mormons. On the one hand I am tremendously thankful for the data I would never find on my own, but on the other hand I am a little uneasy when I think about their motiviation.  Latter-Day Saints research ancestors so they can baptize them (this is not the right term, I know) long after they have died. Many of my ancestors who were avowed Methodists, for example, have been brought into the Mormon fold by posthumous baptismal. At times this bothers me. I don't like the idea of somebody baptizing me after I'm dead -- but I don't like the fact that I was baptized as a baby either. My parents chose to baptize me without consulting my views, because their religion required them to. The Mormons do the same. The reason I can let this go is that when I think about it rationally, it's no skin off my nose. There are too many real problems in the world to let this get to me. Although I will say that I have to laugh when I think of some of my more colorful relatives being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the Latter-Day Saint version of heaven when they prefer the version of heaven that has  racetracks, cocktail waitresses in short skirts, and bocci ball courts.

Beyond religion, curiosity is the only reason I can see for pursuing genealogy. I am curious about my ancestors, because I'm endlessly curious about history. Exploring one helps me understand the other. I have come across some not-so-pretty events in my family's past, including a Daniel Ennis who was an innkeeper in the Minisink Valley in New  Jersey in the late 1600s, and who had a son by a slave called Delia. On the record books the child's name is given as Sin. I don't feel any compulsion to hide away this information, certainly not in any effort to protect Daniel Ennis. But I will say this: when I talked to my daughter about this (at the time she was fourteen) I saw a light go on for her. It made slavery and the cost of slavery more real, and after that she read about that chapter in our history with the sure understanding that it was more than a story, and directly relevant to her, personally.
by Living Lippi G2G Crew (550 points)
Excellent response. I, too, feel that my research benefits me, does no harm to those memorialized. If the Saints want me any my ancestors in their Heaven, so be it. I'd rather be in than refused for no good reason, I guess.
+6 votes


Rather than name calling, why don't you OFFER TO HELP them.

Might get you both somewhere comfortable in the long run -

particularly if they are 'family'!

+4 votes
I' m also confused about who is meant in this comment.  Differences in the spelling of names is ubiquitous, for many reasons.  My paternal line is German, with older records contained in microfilm records of Churches written by a succession of pastors in longhand.  Many of these records were rescued in haste during WWII and stored in basements where they were subject to deteriorating influences, then rescued again and converted to microfilm.  They are often difficult to read, and most entries are in the Old German script.  Then there are the immigration records, again mostly in longhand and frequently written by " Englishmen" not used to interpreting the heavily accented German tongue, and who rendered the names just as they thought they heard them.  I have encountered more than a dozen variations in the spelling of my family name, with differences sometimes happening in the same record for the same ancestor.  It happens!
by David Golem G2G1 (1.6k points)

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