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Caswell County Family Tree Guidelines

The Caswell County Historical Association and the Caswell County NC GenWeb have created an online Family Tree for Caswell County. This is a long-term project that has as its goal documenting all the county's families. The Caswell County Family Tree database will act as a living extension of The Heritage of Caswell County, North Carolina, Jeannine D. Whitlow, Editor (1985)1 and will have appropriate links to the following websites:

1. Caswell County Historical Association

2. Caswell County, North Carolina GenWeb

3. CCHA/CCGW Message Board

4. CCHA Weblog

5. Caswell County Photograph Collection

6. Caswell County Cemetery Census

While the database already has thousands of names (and is growing daily), we obviously have a long way to go.


1. We will not provide names of living people. The cutoff date for identifying the living is 1925. While this may hamper using the Family Tree as a directory to find living people, that is not its purpose. However, you should feel free to submit information with respect to living people. This will place them in the database, but they will not be displayed (only shown without a name and as "Living").

2. We will not follow families after they moved from Caswell County past two generations. While there obviously will be some exceptions to this rule (say for Caswellians who became historically significant in other states or to complete a story or theme that began in Caswell County), it generally will be followed.

3. Computer files submitted to the CCHA will not be merged mindlessly into the master database. This would create a nightmare of duplicate names, orphans, and awkward relationships. While it initially will be more difficult for those maintaining the database, each name will be entered separately, obvious conflicts addressed, and notes added to highlight concerns. Only the CCHA/CCNCGW will be able to modify the database.

4. Accuracy is a goal, but cannot be guaranteed. The Family Tree will grow as people submit their ancestral information for inclusion. The CCHA cannot double check this information against primary sources to make sure that it is correct. The CCHA/CCNCGW Family Tree will be as accurate as we can make it, but it will have errors and omissions. Thus, while we believe it will be a very valuable research tool, users should only consider it as a starting point for in-depth genealogical research. Sources will be cited when known. Also, please be kind when you find errors. Work with the CCHA/CCNCGW, and the errors will be corrected.

5. We encourage "peer review". Many people have a wealth of information about the county's families. That is where the Post-Em function comes in so handy. When you explore the Family Tree you will note the ability to leave notes appended to individual entries. These are called Post-Ems, like the little yellow sticky notes. As you review a section of the Family Tree you may find, for example, an incorrect date, a name wrong, or know of additional ancestors or descendants. Please leave a note and include your source. It is easy and fun. Not only will others see the contents of the note, but the CCHA/CCNCGW will be informed and can take appropriate action to improve the database.

However, Post-Ems are immediately public information. If you have input that is confidential, that requires discussion, or for whatever reason you want to first share privately with the CCHA/CCNCGW, just email a message to the CCHA/CCNCGW. Your input will be treated with the utmost respect and not incorporated into the Family Tree until you are comfortable with its publication.

6. The Family Tree Gedcom file (standard genealogical file format) will not be downloadable. This means that no person can highjack the entire file. If they want it, they must copy every entry. While we may revisit this position, it is a beginning principle. However, should you have a need for a portion of the file, contact the CCHA/CCNCGW Webmaster.

7. To avoid creating a list of useless "Unknowns" where the full name of a person has not been found (usually a surname and most often a spouse's missing maiden name) we will use the following convention: Lillie F. Unknown [Foster]. The "Unknown" is her maiden surname; the [Foster] is her married surname. This groups all the bracketed names alphabetically after the "Z" names and allows searching by the [name].

8. To include your family on the Caswell County Family Tree, just send a simple outline of what you know. Nothing formal from a genealogical viewpoint is necessary. Who cares if you do not know what a Gedcom file is. Few do, and it is not important. Send us your basic family information. The CCHA/CCNCGW will place it online and work with you to expand it, including adding photographs and basic documents such as wills. Just begin with a few entries and build your own Caswell County family tree. However, the benefit of including it here is that your family will be linked to others in Caswell County and will have a broad audience.

We have no illusions about this being something easy that will be completed overnight. It will require enormous effort over many years. However, that does not detract from its potential value. Not only will the Caswell County Family Tree be a wonderful research tool, it will function as a lasting tribute to the wonderful people of Caswell County.

1 Note that The Heritage of Caswell County, North Carolina, Jeannine D. Whitlow, Editor (1985) is a compilation of family histories submitted by family members or those interested in a particular family. No independent research was done by the Caswell County Historical Association to verify the information. Accordingly, please be careful when using this and any other secondary source of genealogical data. While this book is out-of-print, it is available in many large libraries.

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