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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sorry If I'm Being Impolitic

Think you're related to Millard Fillmore? Then Political Family Tree might be the site for you.

I say "might be" because I'm not willing to fork over $29.95 to find out. For that subscription price, the site offers genealogies and biographies of "all U.S. Presidents, all U.S. Vice Presidents, and all Signers of the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and U.S. Constitution." They're beginning to add pedigrees of colonial and state governors, and promise "hundreds of other genealogies."

The family trees and biographies are given as PDF files, so you'll need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed. Based on the samples provided, the subscription price seems steep for the information offered (it goes up to $34.95 after Presidents' Day). Only paternal lines are traced "back to the boat," and even then with scant detail. Descending lines are not traced. No sources are cited, listed, or hinted at.

The pedigrees are useful in showing the genetic relationships that existed between the leading colonial families, but for anyone hoping to flesh out a family history will prove insufficient. Most of these families are well documented in print (families with illustrious members generally are), so a trip to a library with a good genealogy collection should be first on the to-do list.

Put "Subscribe to Political Family Tree" further down on the list—right below "Clean the gutters."

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