We all know what a fact is: Something than can be proven to be true.
In recent months, the phrase “alternative fact” has come into common usage having been coined by someone in Washington, DC. That is nothing new to genealogists and family historians.
We deal with alternative facts on a regular basis. How many ways can that surname be spelled or misspelled? Are Sally and Sarah the same person? Is that person a biological parent or a step parent? An official document states a birth year as 1885; but then another document, also “official”, pins the birth year as 1887. Just how many nicknames are there for Margaret?
Genealogy software and online genealogy sites have us record facts for each individual in our family trees. I wish there was a better word. Sometimes a fact is just the best information we have at the time. Unless we have absolute proof, there’s always the chance that our “fact” will be contradicted or disproved.
As frustrating as that can be, it is also what keeps us digging through old records and keeps us on our toes.
And that’s a fact.