I’ve been quite upset at times, and again today, after rereading information about some of the Heneker family. The information is published in a book about a town where they lived and the people who lived there. I bought the book when I travelled with my brother from W.A. to revisit the town about 3 years ago. I was very excited to see a new book written about the area and people.
As I started to read, and every time I attempt to read it again, there are some really glaring mistakes. Some very simple. One sentence mentions my great grandfather and his wife, and that they had 3 children! This I knew of course was wrong, as my own grandfather wasn’t mentioned and also a photo and other information show that had 10 or 11 children, (can’t quite remember at the moment). A page over it talks about the same couple and their large family of 11 children I think it was, and also a photograph of the family and parents. This is just one issue. Many many errors, with incorrect dates, one says my g g g grandfather was born in 1851 but was actually born in 1826 in the UK, and the other children of the family (who emigrated to Australia with their family in 1839!!!!) I have a copy of his baptismal record from the Parish records in the UK. (which I paid for and was sent to me). On and on it goes, and I don’t really want to bag the author. Partly I think, was the author given different/incorrect information by people she may have interviewed, and also got different dates etc,? even the first initial of one the original family which is incorrect. Further on the same person is mentioned with his correct first name and surname. There are a few references toothers who had provided information about the family to the author.
The author is a fairly well known South Australian author I believe, especially involved in some historical research on other outback subjects. The book says this author is a researcher. The author also thanks contributors in the Preface of the book. So my issue is this, “do I contact the author with an initial concern, or correct the information at least that which I can verify” (from certificates obtained from the UK). I don’t want to criticise the author, and I believe some of the contributors who I met many years ago were already elderly, and am wondering if they now, 10 years later (since I first met them) have confused or mixed some information up? Some of the mistakes are so startling, that is really disturbs me. I don’t usually criticise others as I know the work done must have been a real challenge and there was probably a lot of time put into collating and writing the book. It seems information has been obtained, then put together with information about the same persons, but that the information might have come from different sources , is conflicting and wasn’t noticed when the book was written. I thought it would have been picked up when editing, however of course, many families and names are mentioned, so unless the editor had first hand knowledge of each individual, they may have been checking more for spelling and such. I have also realised of course that as many other families are recorded in the book, that there may or may not be errors also in their records. Of course I can’t be sure of that.
I am so worried about offending the author, but having picked the book up again today for the first time in 12 months, I felt conflicted and upset all over again. It seems if the book was republished at any time, and the same errors were left in, it would be a shame. Also there is one particular sentence which I feel criticises the behaviour of one of the women, and I believe this must have come from a family members memories. It doesn’t put the person in a good light, and doesn’t seem to be needed in the context of the book, which is a history, not a story about a particular family.
Obviously I have purposely omitted the name of the book and the author, as I don’t want to offend, or worse! I am hoping that anyone who reads this post might be interested in commenting their thoughts on the dilemma, or should I just ignore it all??
Thanks in advance for anyone who takes the time to read this.