Twigs & Trees with Rhonda: Genealogies by Anjou
What makes secondary sources a problem is the fact that the information, when it goes unverified, tends to be reprinted and passed along to others. And at no other time is this more important than today with the modern technology that allows the rapid spread of misinformation like never before.
A Little Background
Gustave Anjou was born in Sweden in 1863. Apparently he had a very colorful job in Sweden as he ended up serving a prison term for forgery. He immigrated to the United States about 1890.
Upon his arrival in the United States, he took up the profession of genealogist. Though those of us who consider ourselves genealogical researchers now would probably take exception to his title.
Genealogy for Sale
Anjou's genealogical reports took approximately three weeks to complete. He would include a coat of arms, and he also would provide a history of the surname. There were other items that were included in these reports, that were in manuscript form.
What is so disappointing is that Anjou would use some information that was indeed accurate and proven. Unfortunately, he would then fabricate certain lineages, records and localities to suit the purpose of the report.
His reports cost, on average, $9,000 though they could be even higher. They were intended to give the rich exactly what they wanted.
The More the Better
One of the systems that Anjou relied on was his method of overwhelming the client with data. Mixed in amongst the properly cited, correct lineages were the false lineages that he had created, along with false documents that he conjured up and invented.
This makes it paramount that a researcher go through these genealogies with a fine tooth comb. You just never know which of the entries is real and which has been invented. This can only be done by verifying the entire manuscript with the use of other, primary, documents. Even other secondary documents can not be used, as they have very often relied on the original work of Anjou.
In 1927, Anjou published a catalogue of 192 of these genealogies. At the present time 103 of them can be found in the Family History Library's collection. This leaves some 89 that are not currently accounted for. You will want to keep your eyes out for anything by Anjou and treat it as extremely suspect.
For more information on the currently available genealogies in the Family History Library, along with additional information about Anjou's creations, you will want to see the following web site:The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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