Sunday, 4 March 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Putting Right the Errors of the Past

This week has been a tad gloomy in the respect that I have been contemplating deaths.  Or two deaths, to be more accurate.  Both happened some time ago but, due to error or omission, required revisiting.

First there was the death of Sidney Brown.  Sidney was one of my great uncles, one of the ones who answered his country's call but who didn't return.  He is lying in that corner of a foreign field.  Sidney died, from what cause I know not, on 28 February 1917, hence the reason why his death was called to mind this week.  And the error that needed to be righted?  Well, our covenant with the war dead is that we shall remember them.  I feel that Sidney has been forgotten for too long.

His two brothers fared better; Reginald and Ernest Brown had emigrated to Australia prior to WW1 and joined the Australian Imperial Force.  When they fell they were not only remembered by the family they left in England, but also by the family that they joined in Australia; their brother, an uncle and cousins.  Their brother remembered Reg and Ernie by naming his twin sons after them.  His family never forgot them and have remembered them annually on Anzac Day.

Sidney, however, was not remembered so well.  I didn't even know his name.  Fortunately, last year I got into contact with a cousin in England who had a letter written at the time of Sidney's death giving more details about his last hours in a hospital in Rouen.  It makes painful reading.  I have shared the letter with my other cousins, and we shall remember Sidney not only on Remembrance Day but on the anniversary of his death.

The second error I have dealt with is just plainly that; an error.  I have but one noteworthy relative, a bishop, who died in 1982. This week I was Googling his name and read his Wikipedia entry.  It's a fairly brief entry, giving the dates of his tenure and the dates of his birth and death.  According to Wikipedia, he died the same year that he was born.  A simple typo, I am sure, but one that has been repeated all over the internet!  Surely someone could have picked that up, it's glaringly obvious!

It wasn't a difficult task to put the Wikipedia entry right, I just created an account and corrected the document.  However, I can't put all the copied articles right, so there will be a lot of wrong information out there.  Which just makes you think, how much more is there on the internet that is just plain wrong?  Hopefully, as family historians, we are all applying a higher standard of care to our research than a lot of internet researchers are applying to theirs.


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