My sister used to have this framed poster of an exasperated mother hen surrounded by all her little chicks. And the caption read, "Because I'm the Mommy. That's Why!" I always thought that was funny, but now, as a mother, I get it. When my kids were younger, I would explain the "why" about everything. "You need to do this because..." kinda thing. But now, as they get older, I have resulted to the "Because I said so. That's why" refrain because [O.K., so the "because thing" is a habit] I feel it's time for them to figure out the "why" for themselves. I think doing it this way has made them very curious and also very aware of the fact that they should be asking, "Why?" All the time. Constantly. Non-stop. [Just don't ask me, "Why?" all the time.]
So, what does this have to do with proof & genealogy? Especially proof of you, or anyone else for that matter? Well, there are many reasons why you need to prove you, everyone, and everything in genealogy.
It's academic. I know. You didn't really want to hear the "A" word, but genealogy involves studying [albeit interesting studying]. And proving [citing your sources] is a fundamental, accepted, and expected part of genealogy. It's part of its foundation. It's part of the rules. [Yes, I said the "R" word, too.] But the following is the "why".
- I don't know about you, but I'm forgetful. Just ask my husband. And my kids. [I prefer to think that I'm "focused."] I can't even remember what I had for lunch yesterday. [Oh crap. Did I even have lunch yesterday?] However, I can remember little details about ancestors, but I can't always remember where I found the information. Oh sure, it's easy to remember when you're starting out. But when you start collecting ancestors, you'll find they multiply like, well, rabbits. And you can't remember if they're from your paternal side, your maternal side, or if they're from your husband's lines. You need to know where you found the info that proves that your grandfather, indeed, had many wives before your grandmother. Or where you found the proof that, yes, when your great-aunt disappeared when the circus came to town, that she did take up with a carny.
- One of my high school English teachers once told the class that we could say whatever we wanted in his class as long as we could back it up with facts. And generally speaking, it's true in genealogy, too. What if you find a living distant cousin while researching [and it happens more often than you think] but some of their information and some of your information are not the same? Who is right? Who is wrong? Are you both right and/or wrong? How can you compare anything if you don't know where you got your information? How will you know if you really are related? You must have something to back up what you say, or no one is going to listen.
- And why prove "you"? Well, you'll be helping your descendants. Your birth certificate, while boring to you, might be very interesting to a descendant of yours. They might think that your middle name is [a-hem] "interesting". And comparing a later photo of you to your birth certificate, they might think that you looked waaay good for your actual age listed. [We can only hope.]
Yeah, make them work for the quilt.
But really? Why site your sources? Why prove yourself?
Because I'm the genealogist. That's why.