Sunday, March 16, 2008

You can't believe everything you read on the Internet

...but you knew that already, right? Several times, I have read stories on the web that seemed legit and were even sourced, and when I was curious and went to check the source, found that the source had been mis-quoted.

So I have an ancestor that had a ship. His name was a common name at the time, and lots of men by his name lived in his colony and also had ships. Someone by that name is associated with the slave trade and other rebellious acts. I am trying to determine whether the infamous guy is my ancestor or not.

In my research, I found a post on a genealogy message board that listed many slave traders, as reported in so-and-so's doctoral dissertation. Two names that matched my ancestors' names were on that list.

I wanted to see the book with my own eyes, and find the source documents for that book.

I found the dissertation at Los Angeles Central Library. The dissertation was indexed and many names listed on the message board were not in the dissertation at all. Other names were found but with no evidence they were actually slave traders. I had gone to the library with a heavy heart, thinking that I was going to find the book that confirmed I am descended from two slave traders. Instead I only confirmed that you can't believe everything you read on the Internet. My mystery is still unsolved.

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