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Plagiarism and Fabrication: Genealogical Land Mines

  • Broadcast in History



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Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist, and Robert Charles Anderson, Director of the Great Migration Studies, join Jane to talk about plagiarism and fabrication in genealogy. We may be stepping on genealogical land mines in our research resources if we come upon word-for-word copying of another's work (plagiarism) and works that make up facts (fabrication). Judy and Bob will explain what each is, give examples, and tell how we can avoid the two mines in our research.  They also discuss transcriptions and abstractions, forgeries and copyright infringement.

We lost Judy at the end. Here is her reponse to the question I asked just before she was cut off: "It isn't plagiarism to reach our own conclusions! But sometimes proving that they are our own conclusions could be hard, especially if we are going down the same paths that others have trod before us. Since we should have done our reasonably exhaustive research, sometimes what we need to be saying is: 'This is where I came out, and it's the same result reached by others.'"

Photo credits: Gustave Anjou, Secretary of the American Genealogical Society, Trow's Register of Public Institutions in the Boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx, 1911, p. 69 (

Robert C. Anderson, New England Historic Genealogical Society.