Quality Work

Nothing is more important to The Memory Man and his team than quality and accuracy. 

Imagine our shock and surprise recently when we reviewed a family tree for a client, and read that grandparents William and Helen had a bouncing baby boy when they were in their 80’s!  Not very likely!

The reality is that we find that sort of error every day in genealogical records, but it won’t appear in your Memory Book.  We just won’t let it!

We will do our best to find and eliminate glaring errors like this, but there may be a few, much more subtle errors that will get by us from time to time and will appear in our work.  Most of these inaccuracies are there in the genealogical record, masked by a series of conditions.

Consider that:

We review U.S. census records that were published from 1820 to 1940.  Most of these were written in longhand, using paper and ink that have seriously deteriorated since then (we’re often amazed that these records still exist at all).  

Back in the day, people changed their first and last names from time to time, and used aliases and nicknames liberally.  It just didn’t matter much to them because society was a good deal less formal.  In one interesting family, when the census taker came to call one hundred and thirty years ago, dad enumerated the kids as: A.J., J.T., M.K., K.A., and P.J.  

Also, names evolved from old world spellings to their Americanized versions.  For example, one family in my personal family tree was known as O’Kille, then O’Killia, then O’Killey, then O’Kelley, then O’Kelly, and finally just plain Kelly.  So, if you see a spelling that doesn’t appear just right, consider that it may have been the family’s preferred spelling for a decade or two.

Women and people of color were often left out of census and other records, referred to only as “wife” or “slave,” by a system we now view as reprehensible, but one which still challenges genealogical researchers to this day.  The 1820 U.S. Census, for example, recorded only the name of the head of each family, then counted Free White Males, Free White Females, Slaves, and Free Colored Persons.

Bibles and other family methods of record keeping were all some families had to preserve the births, deaths, and marriages of family members.  Some of these documents that have been preserved are very hard to read.  However, they are all we have and we are fortunate that we have them. 

Many people do family tree research as a hobby and their “trees” appear online and therefore available to professional researchers like The Memory Man.  Some of these are well-researched and some are a little less accurate.  When we use information from these published trees, we try to verify its accuracy, but sometimes we have to have faith in the researcher, otherwise there would be no information at all.  

And while there are many more situations and examples, let it suffice to say that the records are often difficult, and there is nobody left to answer the questions that we might ask.  Our team will do the best we can for you, but for all the reasons discussed above, we can’t guarantee all aspects of the accuracy of what we do.


The Memory Man USA

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