Sunday, May 26, 2013

Genealogy fiction

GeneaNet is a genealogy service that was created in France.

Click here to access the GeneaNet website.

A major characteristic of this free service is that you can communicate with other researchers who are examining surnames that interest you. This feature can sometimes put you in contact with a researcher who has already carried out work that concerns you. In most cases, though, you come upon research results that simply don't ring a bell in any useful way.

As a registered user of GeneaNet, I made a request to be informed of all ongoing research concerning individuals named Skeffington. As soon as I receive an email from GeneaNet stating that one of their members has just uploaded Skeffington data into his family tree, I try to understand the circumstances in which this operation has been carried out. That's to say: Who are these researchers who appear to be interested in the Skeffington family? What is the exact nature of their uploaded data? Etc. Let me simply say that, in spite of countless emails indicating that dozens of GeneaNet member have inserted Skeffington data into their family trees, I have never yet found an iota of pertinent Skeffington information through this service. On the other hand, GeneaNet has helped me considerably concerning the history of former owners of my house at Gamone. So, I continue half-heartedly with the service.

The community of GeneaNet users appears to include researchers who are happy to get involved in what I would refer to as genealogy fiction. That's to say, their research starts out with serious facts, of the kind that we expect in a genealogical context, but they soon link their family tree to massive blocks of existing data whose authenticity is often nebulous, to say the least. Within these blocks of data, many of the individuals appear to be members of the nobility, but their credentials are open to doubt. Meanwhile, other individuals whose names appear in these blocks of remote "cousins" are personages from history and even from legends. A few days ago, for example, I was told that a French researcher had inserted the names of several 17th-century Skeffington individuals into his family tree. When I examined his tree, I was amazed to discover that it contained a gigantic horde of people stretching over more than a hundred generations. One of his alleged cousins was Attila the Hun.

King Arthur was also present.

Jesus and his mother were also distant cousins of this well-connected Frenchman.

Concerning the mother of Jesus, it's frankly weird to find her designated as "the Virgin Mary of Arimathea". The inspired GeneaNet member who contributed this description was surely an adept of an obscure medieval English legend suggesting that Joseph of Arimathea was the paternal uncle of the Virgin Mary, and that he once visited the town of Glastonbury (Somerset) with his young nephew Jesus.

A little earlier on, our well-connected Frenchman had also announced that he was related to Cleopatra and the pharaoh Ramses.

To my mind, this sort of nonsense has no place in serious genealogical research. In fact, I suspect that certain members of the GeneaNet community derive pleasure from uploading tons of fake data of this kind, and the service then encourages other members to establish alleged links to such personages.


  1. hahahaha! I work 2 days a week in the genealogy and research department of Richmond Tweed Regional Library...still learning... and know how funny this is. Just like patrons who watch "Who do you think you are" on TV and expect it all to be an "open Book". Na-ah! Lot of hours (years) doing work, work, work.

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