Genealogy is affected by forgeries, fakes, and frauds. Numerous fraudulent genealogies are known to exist and can be found in any major genealogical library, online or off.
Armchair historians, family-tree climbers, and professionals are all among the guilty. Many are well-meaning folk who "just got carried away" by imagination, enthusiasm, or inexperience. Others are, yes, quite calculating in their deceit.
As a result genealogy reseacher, Carmen J. Finley, warned that it is important to track down the original records cited in compiled genealogies. Carmen said,
Serious genealogists know not to believe everything in print. Honest mistakes happen. The accuracy of published record abstracts depends on many factors... Even more difficult to detect can be the misguided alterations and deliberate deceptions by seemingly sincere authors who tamper with evidence or manufacture it outright. No researcher really wants to consider such a likelihood.
The Horn Papers
The Horn Papers were records of western Pennsylvania, southeastern Ohio, western Maryland, and northern West Virginia from 1765 to 1795. For more information, see:
- Arthur P. Middleton and Douglass Adair, "The Mystery of the Horn Papers," William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 4 (October 1947): 409-45; report proving the Horn Papers were a hoax.
- W. F. Horn, The Horn Papers: Early Westward Movement on the Monongahela and Upper Ohio, 1765-1795 (Scottsdale, Penn.: Herald Press for the Green County Historical Society, 1945); published copy of the Horn Papers.
- Jane A. Leavell, "The Horn Papers," Jane's Story Page (http://littlecalamity.tripod.com/Genealogy/Horn.html : accessed 10 December 2009); includes a bibliography.
Gustav Anjou is perhaps the most famous author of fraudulent genealogies. For more information about Anjou frauds, consult these sources:
- Kathi Reid, "Caveat Emptor! Family Tree Forgeries," Genealogy Help, genealogy blog (www.genhelp.org : accessed 22 October 2009); documents the discovery of a Gustav Anjou genealogy in her own family.
- Harold Oliver, [ed.,] "Fraudulent Lineages," America's First Families (http://personal.linkline.com/xymox : 5 October 1998, accessed 22 October 2009); citing Robert Charles Anderson, CG, FASG, "We Wuz Robbed!" Genealogical Journal of the Utah Genealogical Association 19, nos. 1-2 (1991); lists known Anjou fraudulent genealogies among the holdings of the Family History Library by call number or film number.
- Myra Vanderpool Gormley, CG, "Grafting Family Trees," Pierce Mothershead Family Ties, Jo Ann Miller (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~jcat2 : accessed 22 October 2009); citing RootsWeb Review: RootsWeb's Genealogy News 3, no. 17 (26 April 2000); archived online (www.rootsweb.com).
- Oliver, "Genealogy Frauds," America's First Families; several more articles in addition to "Fraudulent Lineages."
- James Pylant, "Watch Out for Fake Family Trees,"GenealogyMagazine.com (www.genealogymagazine.com : accessed 26 October 2009); Reverend W. Twyman Williams exposes fraudulent French ancestry of Chrétien DuBois, Gary B. and Elizabeth Shown Mills discover fraud, and George L. Nichols concludes Leon Nelson Nichols work is fictional.
- Ron Wild, "Beware of Fraudulent Genealogies," Family Chronicle (www.familychronicle.com : accessed 26 October 2009); citing print edition, January/February 2001; lists multiple fraudulent genealogists.
- Carmen J. Finley, Ph.D., CG. "Checking the Authenticity of Cited Documents: A Finley-Hess Hoodwink in Colonial Pennsylvania." National Genealogical Society Quarterly 87 (1999): 295.
- Gary B. Mills and Elizabeth Shown Mills, "Hoodwinks, Tomfoolery, and Fakelore," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 87 (1999): 259.
- Carmen J. Finley, Ph.D., CG, "Checking the Authenticity of Cited Documents: A Finley-Hess Hoodwink in Colonial Pennsylvania," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 87 (1999): 295.