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.

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