52 Documents in 52 Weeks #50 – Hunt’s Evaluation of Furman’s Manuscript

Person of Interest: Ebenezer Hunt
Relationship: 4th great-grandfather


Source Citation: Mitchell J. Hunt, “An Evaluation of the Consuelo Furman Manuscript (1955) on Ralph Hunt of Long Island: (Which Concludes Erroneously that Ralph Hunt of Long Island and Ralph of Virginia Were the Same) in Context of Genealogies of the Unrelated Pioneers Thomas Hunt of Westchester, New York and Ralph Hunt of Long Island with Notes on Early Hunts of Virginia and Other Early Hunts of Long Island and New York,” self-published analysis paper, (December 1985); folder: Hunt Family, vertical files; Sussex County Historical Society, Newton, New Jersey.


Document Description: This is a copy (or a copy of a copy) of a self-published research paper written by Mitchell J. Hunt of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Found in the vertical files of the Sussex County Historical Society, the copied material has a title page, table of contents (page ii), and sixteen typewritten pages in total. Copy quality is generally good with some black areas indicating that the person copying the original (or copy) did not remove the staple when photocopying it. The title, including the subtitle, is a long one! Sixty-seven words in all. The entirety of page eight is missing from my copy. Page seven has some text that has been cut off when the page was copied crookedly.

Since this is a work still under copyright protection and I have not obtained permission from Mitchell J. Hunt to use it, I will not be able to present the entire document here for you to peruse. Only the title page is presented. You may ask, “Why even use it then?” I wanted to provide an example of a research paper or analysis within this year’s project. It will provide plenty of robust discussion without getting into the nuts and bolts of the Hunt family ties he is focusing on within his analysis.

It is unclear who donated this copy to the Sussex County Historical Society. It may have been Mitchell J. Hunt, a relative of his, someone he corresponded with who was related to a Hunt somewhere, or any other multitude of possible persons.


Document Scan/Transcription:
AN EVALUATION
OF
THE CONSUELO FURMAN MANUSCRIPT (1955)
ON RALPH HUNT OF LONG ISLAND

(Which Concludes Erroneously that Ralph Hunt
of Long Island and Ralph of Virginia Were the Same)

In Context of
Genealogies of the
Unrelated Pioneers

THOMAS HUNT OF WESTCHESTER, NEW YORK
and
RALPH HUNT OF LONG ISLAND

With Notes on

EARLY HUNTS OF VIRGINIA
and
OTHER EARLY HUNTS OF LONG ISLAND AND NEW YORK

Mitchell J. Hunt
[address redacted for privacy]
Willow Grove, Pennsylvania [zip redacted for privacy]
December 1985
(March 1990 Additions)


Analysis: When reviewing an analytical paper, one of the first things I look at are the citations. What is the author basing his facts upon and where is that information stored? Unfortunately, I think this document is largely lacking in citations. I say “I think” because there are no footnote or endnote numbers within the body of the text, there are no footnotes on individual pages, and formal citations are not presented within the discussion. There are, within Mr. Hunt’s text, such notations as “per the records of Plymouth Colony published in Boston in 1859,” “the will of Edward Jessup in 1666,” “his testimony at a court hearing in 1683,”and “the Grove Farm was patented to Thomas Hunt on Dec. 4, 1667.” These notations indicate that some original documents should exist somewhere but the location to the documents is not given in the paper. Personally, I would use these statements as clues on what sorts of original documents I should be digging up if interested in the persons being discussed. It is a little strange that Mr. Hunt states, “but no evidence is provided to support the dates” regarding some children’s birthdates when this paper is lacking citations. Perhaps a case of “look at what I say but never mind what I don’t do?”

There is a possibility that a bibliography may exist since the table of contents indicates there are additional pages (18-38) after page seventeen where this copy of the document ends. I can’t even be sure that the one-page table of contents is complete. The person doing the copying may have neglected to photocopy any other front matter (page iii or iv or above) since they may have only been interested in the analysis up to page seventeen. It is unclear if the missing page eight is a result of the original copying or an error when this was subsequently copied and sent to me.

The title page indicates that some additions have been made in March of 1990. Handwritten notes with the initials MJH (Mitchell J. Hunt) exist within the document. I would think that these would be the 1990 additions but they are not dated.

As you can see from the above statements, a good genealogist must first step back to take a look at the source itself before just incorporating wholesale the information and evidence found within the source into their family history, genealogies, or family tree databases/programs. You must look closely to see if the author is presenting his own conclusions, repeating another’s work, correcting a previous error, or presenting new information.

Mr. Hunt states that a “recently discovered manuscript” (Furman’s) resides in the New York Public Library or Genealogical Society files. Recently would indicate to me that it was found somewhere around 1985 when Mr. Hunt penned his analysis. He takes issue with some of the statements made by Furman and this paper is intended to correct them. More specifically, he takes issue with the assumption that Ralph Hunt of Long Island and an early Ralph Hunt of Virginia were the same person. He also takes issue with the assertion that Ralph Hunt of Long Island and Thomas Hunt of Westchester were brothers. His work is admirable in that it is oftentimes very hard to correct things “released into the wild” as the Furman Manuscript was in 1955. Mistaken familial relationships often persist when others refuse to step back and take a look at what assumptions went into connecting two individuals or families.

This paper represents a source type that is an authored work. Mr. Hunt is presenting his information in a format he has determined. He is reaching is own personal conclusions and presenting us with a new and original piece of writing. I would put the information he presents within his paper in the undetermined classification. Without substantial citations, it is impossible to know whether the information is primary (firsthand) or secondary. The evidence found within the paper could be classified as direct, indirect, or even negative depending on the multitude of research questions that could be constructed.

CONCLUSION

This paper is a good example of the need to do reasonably exhaustive research. Given that Mr. Hunt refutes some conclusions in the Furman Manuscript of 1955, incorporating the information found in the Furman Manuscript without analysis would be researcher’s headache. Likewise, incorporating Mr. Hunt’s information without further analysis has the potential to create a completely new headache. It is up to the diligent researcher to dig into all the assertions made by Mr. Hunt just as they would dig into all the assertions made by the Furman Manuscript. One would also have to analyze whether they find Mr. Hunt’s writing coherent and his conclusions credible. There’s no lack of homework for a good genealogist!

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