Virkus: Fact or Fiction?

I basically agree with Dick Eastman’s comment about Virkus in his recent review of the new Family Forest® Leadership Edition. The seven-volume “Compendium of American Genealogy” by Frederick Adams Virkus does contain a very large number of errors.

But should that lead to the conclusion that the enormous amount of ancestral history information Virkus collected should be totally ignored?

Anyone who spends literally thousands of hours digitally indexing and cross-checking a sizable amount of the ancestral history in Virkus’ Compendiums, as I have, will find them to contain a great deal of real value.

In fact, they will discover that the majority of the statements and connections in Virkus agree with the statements and connections in publications created by the New England Historical and Genealogical Society (NEHGS), The American Genealogist, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and a number of the most respected genealogists of past and present, including members of the National Genealogical Society’s Hall of Fame.

Suppose one in four statements and connections in Virkus is wrong (I don’t think it’s anywhere near that much). This sounds terrible from a glass-half-empty perspective, but from a glass-half-full perspective, this means that 75% of the information in this enormous work is correct.

The difficult and time-consuming task is in separating the good from the bad. In the digital age, once one person has done that, others can take advantage of the good parts without being mislead by the bad parts.

My informed opinion is, if the errors and repetitions are removed from Virkus, if the implied knowledge is replaced with more complete information from newer and better sources, and if tens of thousands of dead ends are connected to external sources that extend ancestral pathways for centuries, the very large foundation laid by Virkus becomes extremely valuable.

This is one part of the ancestral history tour guide service the Family Forest® Project is performing almost every day. As it says on the CD cover, Family Forest is hand-crafted distilled knowledge, digitally mapped, about who said what about whom when and where.

There are currently 143,584 source citations from Virkus in the Family Forest®, which represents less than 18.5% of the more than 778, 500 source citations in the Family Forest®. Each one of them, plus many more we will be adding, is only there until the moment better or more complete information from another source replaces it.

Seeing is Believing

A lifetime of learning and common knowledge has taught us that it just can’t be true. It is impossible, isn’t it?

One person can’t really have actual family ties to the Wright Brothers, both Lewis and Clark, Francis Scott Key, more than 40 U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents, 24 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 20 signers of the Magna Charta, Lee and Grant and other military leaders from many of the most famous battles in history, Prince William and Prince Harry, the author of “Alice in Wonderland” plus dozens of other authors and artists, Walt Disney, dozens of past and present Hollywood celebrities, and people from the Bible, can he or she?

Actually, if the ancestral history recorded over the centuries by many of the most respected experts of their time is to be believed, the answer is definitely yes. And the generation-by-generation connections can now be seen in the Family Forest®.

Kinship reports generated by the world’s most interconnected digital resource for ancestral history (the Family Forest®) show that Senator Kerry is, President Bush is, both Prince Charles and Princess Diana are, and most hereditary heirs of European thrones are.

Family Forest® kinship reports also show that dozens of past and present Hollywood celebrities are, including Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Olivia de Havilland, Bette Davis, Lucile Ball, Lee Marvin, Orson Wells, Joanne Woodward, Brooke Shields, Oliver Platt, Michael Douglas, Jamie Lee Curtis, and others.

More surprising is the number of everyday people (friends, co-workers, people at the supermarket and mall, etc.) who share so many of these actual family ties to important human history. This surprise came to me late primarily because of just one fact.

The vast majority of the growth of the Family Forest® has been earlier than 1850. In general, the ancestral pathways we have extended to present day so far have been to famous people.

Even though tens of millions of people have far more of their own ancestral pathways mapped out in the Family Forest® now than they can see anywhere else, their personal connection points are usually one to three centuries ago.

As we have begun responding to customer requests to extend specific ancestral pathways down to their immediate family, we found that we can offer parents and grandparents a priceless gift of family heritage for them to pass along to their children and grandchildren. This gift was not possible before, and it cannot be found anywhere else.

These fortunate children will be able to start with themselves and point-and-click travel through ancestral pathways to discover and explore their own actual family ties to a very large number of the famous people and events they will study in school.

I can’t help but wonder how much richer my life might have been if I had been given this intriguing personalized resource to ignite my intellectual curiosity at an early age while I was still in school.