Accuracy Issues

The information provided throughout this website is reasonably accurate, but there are definite limits
which must be kept in mind. Family history is, indeed, history and like more general historical writing,
it is always subject to revision when new or better information is discovered. We have proceeded on
the assumption that it is better to provide the stories and assertions of fact we find, even when we
are not sure of their accuracy, than to hew to a finer line of "proof' and thus be able to say very little.
Of course, we will be glad to correct assertions when more precise and better sourced information
becomes available.

Here are some general guidelines for assessing accuracy.

We do not include anything which we know to be false; however, we include a great deal which
others have asserted to be factual but for which we cannot personally vouch.
We always cite the
sources from which we have worked, but these are usually not primary sources. Instead they are
usually written accounts by others (who are named whenever the name of the author is known).
Much internet data (for example, Ancestry.com's OneWorldTree) is provided by unnamed volunteers
and is of very uneven quality. Nevertheless, such sources provide important clues because they
often give wives' maiden names, unlike U.S. Census records.

If we know some asserted facts are debatable or questionable, then we will explain that.

Whenever they are available, we check against U. S. Census records. but as indicated above these
have their problems
. The names of children are sometimes given differently in subsequent decades,
probably because those involved have come to prefer a first or middle name over the other, or
because a name has been converted into an affectionate nickname. Spellings vary depending on
the wishes of the census takers. Both first and middle names are rarely provided.

Dates, in particular, are problematic. If a birth date or death date includes only the year, then it is by
definition approximate. If birth years are deduced from census records, they may be off by a year
one way or the other because they are calculated by substracting the listed age from the year of the
census.

Even birth certificates (when available) and tombstones may be inaccurate. Birth certificates were
sometimes made well after the fact (these are called "delayed birth certificates") and thus depend on
the applicants' and witnesses' memories. Tombstones are subject to the same errors, accidental or
otherwise.

Family Bibles are generally considered to be a trustworthy source (at least with regard to intentions),
but obviously the family scribe can make errors.

For all of these reasons, the information provided here must be viewed with caution.
By all means,
if you have facts which you believe are more accurate than some you find here, please
share them with us, along with your reasoning and your sources.
See contact information.
www.childers-shepherd.org, 28 Feb 2007