March 12, 2008

What is a Clearinghouse?

Some folks have recently suggested to me that they were unsure what the Coffey Cousins' Clearinghouse is. The definition that I gave is that we are a central agency for collecting and giving out information. But, we are not an agency; simply a group of people who identify themselves that way, taking that name from the newsletter of the same name.

We (a small core of individuals) attempt to work with those who are having difficulty identifying their ancestors. When someone writes to one of us for help, and information is available that might fit their family, it is given to them, along with any sources that are available. The information given is without guarantee. It is sort of hoped that the person receiving the info will check the sources, prove the facts and later, if they feel like sharing, tell us what they found. It is when we are not updated that erroneous information gets perpetuated.

It is, I like to believe, a mutual effort with no profits realized by anyone on our end. The cost associated with research that I do on fee-based genealogy sites come from my pocket. Whatever information I give is done so freely and without any obligation on the part of anyone to do anything more than send "thanks," and then only if they think about it.

The newsletter that Bonnie Culley edits and publishes operates the same way. People send in information, she publishes it and pushes it out in a multi-page newsletter every quarter. The only charge is the subscription rate of $10/year. For years, the rate was $8/year, but ever increasing postal rates forced her to up the cost. She makes no profit, and pays for the printing and postage out of that $10. She has a "department of corrections" in the newsletter where - what else - corrections from readers are published. I sort of try do do that here by updating earlier blogs.

I believe that the newsletter is in the 26th year. I think I've been attempting to operate the website for close to 18 years!? I don't really recall when I first put it on line at Rootsweb, but beginning in 1991 it was on a server at interesurf.net, then an ISP in my local area. Last year I decided to purchase a domain name and subscribe to a hosting service so that I could do more. I also pay for the hosting service.

We always try to list a source for the information that we share. Sometimes however, the person submitting the info does not have a source, except for "family tradition." In that case we will make an effort to get the person asking and the person submitting in contact with each other. Many times however, that's not possible because e-mail addresses change rapidly. That's why I ask for a USPS address from anyone who contributes or receives information.

I am not aware of any "license" requirements for anyone to research any family name, so I will continue to do what I can to help anyone with any surname closely connected to a Coffey/e family, wherever in the US they might have lived. Perhaps by helping others, someone will someday help me determine which Coffey/e woman co-habitated with what Mills man to produce a child named Lilburn, born c1822 in TN, and who chose to spell his name Coffee. In the meantime I'll have to be satisfied being in the fifth generation of what could possibly be the newest Coffee family in the US.

Finally, should anyone know of and object to any immediate family being included in the Edward Coffey Project please feel free to ask for them to be removed. I will, within reason, completely remove them. At the moment, I think "within reason" means anyone born after the 1930 census. We'll have to discuss a way to handle information if it was submitted by someone else in your family who does not object. In the meantime, if you have information you would like to share, or want to ask for help, please contact me at the above e-mail address.

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