I have been fascinated with genealogy. The stories that my grandmother, great aunts and great grandmother would tell me were ones that I could recite at least in part by the time that I was a young teen.
As time went by, I would get copies of documents. Carefully, I would copy them and slide them into a page protector. In a time long before the internet, each piece of paper represented someone either sending off for a form, going to the library and making a copy, or sharing a page from a document that someone in the family held.
A distant relative that I met online, Rachel, offered to send me her box of research. I was thrilled. She was advanced in years. She was afraid that the family trees that she had taken years to compile would be lost forever since no one in her immediate family was even remotely interested.
I took her up on the offer and within a few weeks, a large cardboard box came to me. It was filled with all sorts of family trees. Connections that I had never seen. It was very excited. I called Rachel on the phone and asked her where she got all of her information from. She explained that the items she had included, birth certificates and what not were from research. Then she told me the sentence that would break my heart.
"The rest I filled in or made up. I even edited some of the birth certificates and stuff with correction fluid to make them match."
I couldn't believe my ears. The box that I had now had no value to me. I put everything back in it and taped it up. I have never opened it again. She had even created false relationships to famous people because she thought that it would make the tree more interesting.
When you are doing research and adding to your family tree, always cite your source. NEVER make up information.