Today I received a note from a very important genealogy friend. She asked me if I hadn’t perhaps confused two family members who had similar names thereby giving erroneous credit to the ‘wrong’ person rather than the ‘right’ one. A very important question.
It is absolutely essential to provide good and clear attribution to those from whom we source our data. It is important to be as correct as possible in any quotations, images, bibliographies and links. Accuracy requires proofing by your readership (proof-readers, if you are lucky enough to have them) and modification by the family genealogist to reflect appropriate corrections, etc.
It is also, unfortunately, impossible to be always accurate.
So what can be done, well there are a few options open to you:
Be receptive to corrections. Any person generous enough to report a potential problem needs to be treated with care. They are a very valuable resource.
Make it easy for people to get in touch with you. I can’t tell you how many sites I have found for which there are no contact links, email or otherwise. This certainly makes it hard to ask questions, get permission or provide corrections.
Protect but be generous with your information. Share as much as you can, all the while trying to find out who needs and/or wants your data. Knowing this may provide you with future sources of data as well as some new genealogy ‘friends’.
Remember, genealogy and family history is about gathering as much truth and factual data as you can. Acknowledging sources provides credibility and weight to your research not to mention ‘it being the right thing to do!’
What do you do when there are no names or dates to work with?
Well quite simply, there has to be something or else you are in deep trouble! Having said that there are many times when the names are and dates are unclear, indefinite or conflicting. I have found a few options that work with regularity, at least for me they do! In no particular sequence, they include:
Census records. Look to see if you can find a cluster of family members that resemble those you seek. In one of my best examples, I found a Peter & Julie Deyo family. I was seeking a Joseph and Julia Deo family, at the time. When I compared the family member names with two other Census records, one from 1851 in Canada and one from 1870 in the US there was an uncanny similarity. So I went with it! You can find this example hidden away on our Deyo Genealogy page.
Follow the kids. If you have some children from one generation but are missing a desired sibling, follow those children that you do have. Often I find that these relations lead me to the person I seek.
Read the documents! I can not tell you how many times I seem to be the first person to struggle my way through a source document. Source documents can provide a wealth of new insight and information. I have found countless new generations of the family simply by reading a birth or wedding record to find the parents name(s).
There are other tricks as well. As I further gather and formulate my thoughts, I’ll post them here.
Publishing genealogy information seems important to me. I suppose that ought to be obvious enough just by the size of ManyRoads. But why go to the trouble? What is the value?
I can only answer those questions from my perspective. Perhaps some of our readers might be willing to chime in via comments on this page. But for me the value lies in these areas (in no particular order):
Much of the information I have found was difficult to locate, I’d like others to find things more readily.
It seems every time I find information, a few years late it has vanished. Often the very sites where the original information was published have disappeared.
I believe that sharing information, photos, knowledge encourages other to do likewise, whether with me or others it matters not.
Our history is too important to lose and we need to facilitate its dispersal. Redundancy is a sure buffer against loss.
Selfishly, I want to have my family remembered. And, publishing family history is a reasonable way to encourage remembrance of both the people who and places that have slipped into history and the past.
Organizing related threads of information makes the individual components more meaningful. Context can be re-established; linkages become more obvious.
Meeting new found family members. I have met untold numbers of family members with whom I was previously unacquainted.
A sense of community, I have been amazed with the breadth and depth of community that exists among and between fellow genealogists.
Seeing the information ‘on paper‘ provides a unique perspective, as well as sense of belonging, that I find to be uniquely valuable.
The family history archive provides a unique memorial to our collective journey through life. It makes the family real, tangible and alive. It assuages loss and promotes healing and understanding.
We are those for whom we search. Without them, we would not be.
Ever have a person without a clear name or birth/ death dates?
I seem to regularly encounter family members for whom the names have become vague and the dates muddled. Because this situation is fairly common, there need to be simple methods for getting around these situations. I have found the following approaches to be useful.
Phonetics. Remember the days when teachers attempted to beat phonetics into your head; well, here’s a place they can become useful. However it is worth noting that the phonetics ‘of genealogy’ almost always involve two or more persons:
the person saying or giving a name -and-
the person(s) hearing the name spoken
This is an important detail because most frequently, in my experience, name problems arise out of language shifts ie., a French speaking family member moving into an English speaking region. to make this work you need to know what the name may have been spoken as (sounded like?); because once it was spoken it was probably written phonetically in the ‘new language’.
Although this is almost always problematic when people move from one linguistic group to another, it can still be problematic within a single group, although then only a single set of phonetic rules are applicable.
Naming patterns. It is important to note that historically different groups followed different naming conventions.
In Germany for example, during the late 1700 early 1800 most Latinate given names belonged to Catholics not Protestants for as an example: Wilhelmus Marcus Tell. If that person had been Lutheran (Evangelisch) their name would most likely have been simply Germanic Wilhelm Mark Tell. As for his name had he immigrated to the US, well, he probably would have received lots of help spelling it from many individuals… most of whom would have made a mess of it.
In Scandinavia, patronymics were the rule; although they did not exist in 100% of the situations.
In early Quebec, the Catholic Church followed a convention of using Saint names plus eldest child patterns.
All this is to say, there are clues to be had even when the names exist only in part. Do not believe for a moment that your surname or the surnames of your predecessors never, or rarely, changed. Changes may be frequent and significant. These may be so significant that you might find siblings of the same parents with differing surnames or married couples buried under the same headstone with different spellings of the same surname.
In subsequent posts, I plan to discuss other tricks, observations, etc.
I think that old quote pretty much sums up what happens when searching for the right genealogical toolset.
Too often, people believe that their hardware or operating platform defines their selection choices. In truth, it rarely does. Almost any tool can be run on any platform. Certainly a bit of technical prowess may be required in order to achieve interoperability but it is very doable.
No, the reasons for picking a genealogical toolset should be based on your genealogy management needs not operating or hardware systems. What follows, in no particular order, are most of the factors that I personally see as being important (and I used for my choice of GRAMPS):
ease with which a web display version can be created
the ability to share Events, Places, Media (in technical terms– genealogy objects)
robust database facilities (in other words it supports large databases)
adherence to GEDCOM standards
easy Export and Import facilities
excellent backup, archive and restore capabilities
open software architecture (does not rely on numerous proprietary packages, tools, software or databases)
effective and helpful documentation
an active online support/ user community
robust bug reporting system (so that problems may be communicated to the developers and addressed in future releases)
easy integration with my WordPress BLOG and themes
simple image and document library functions
To me, these factors are much more important in determining whether or not any software package is going to do the job you want. Do not confine yourself to the narrow realms of your operating system or hardware platform. Pick the tool you think best satisfies your actual needs and find out how to make it work on the hardware or OS you have.
Never one to leave well enough alone, here are a few additional excerpts of concepts and data I came across while thinking about our collective Royalty or inter-relatedness. Rather than attempting to re-write these ideas into my own words, I have included excerpts of the original posts with links to the entire reading(s).
Conservatively allowing for each generation to span 30 years (which is a little large), going back thirty generations takes us back to about 1100 CE where the population was only about 300 million, and forty generations takes us back to 800 CE where the population was less than 200 million. (If we take each generation as averaging 25 years, 30 generations takes us back to 1250 CE when the population was 350 million and in forty generations we reach 1000 CE where the population was 200 million.)
Having more ancestors that the total population leads to the clear conclusion (which is not that surprising once one thinks about it) that all our ancestors cannot have been distinct individuals but were shared. In other words, my great-great-great-grandfather on my father’s side had to be the same person as my great-great-grandfather on my mother’s side, or something like that.
In a similar but related vein, Richard Dawkins’ book The Ancestor’s Tale (2004) provides a rigorous argument (on page 39). He asserts that in the distant past, we all must have shared ancestors:
If we go sufficiently far back, everybody’s ancestors are shared. All your ancestors are mine, whoever you are, and all mine are yours. Not just approximately, but literally. This is one of those truths that turns out, on reflection, to need no new evidence. We prove it by pure reason, using the mathematician’s trick of reductio ad absurdum. Take our imaginary time machine absurdly far back, say 100 million years, to an age when our ancestors resembled shrews or possums. Somewhere in the world at that ancient date, at least one of my personal ancestors must have been living, or I wouldn’t be here. Let us call this particular little mammal Henry (it happens to be a family name). We seek to prove that if Henry is my ancestor he must be yours too. Imagine, for a moment, the contrary: I am descended from Henry and you are not. For this to be so, your lineage and mine would have to have marched, side by side yet never touching, through 100 million years of evolution to the present, never interbreeding yet ending up at the same evolutionary destination – so alike that your relatives are still capable of interbreeding with mine. This reductio is clearly absurd. If Henry is my ancestor, he must be yours too. If not mine, he cannot be yours.
Without specifying how ancient is ‘sufficiently’, we have just proved that a sufficiently ancient individual with any human descendants at all must be an ancestor of the entire human race. Long-distance ancestry, of a particular group of descendants such as the human species, is an all-or-nothing affair. Moreover, it is perfectly possible that Henry is my ancestor (and necessarily yours, given that you are human enough to be reading this book) while his brother Eric is the ancestor of, say, all the surviving aardvarks. Not only is it possible. It is a remarkable fact that there must be a moment in history when there were two animals in the same species, one of whom became the ancestor of all humans and no aardvarks, while the other became the ancestor of all aardvarks and no humans. They may well have met, and may even have been brothers. You can cross out aardvark and substitute any other modern species you like, and the statement must still be true. Think it through, and you will find that it follows from the fact that all species are cousins of one another. Bear in mind when you do so that the ‘ancestor of all aardvarks’ will also be the ancestor of lots of very different things beside aardvarks[.]
The Genealogy Phenomena of Pedigree Collapse
“Pedigree Collapse” is what trims the family tree, according to Alex Shoumatoff, author of a New Yorker article on the mathematics of family history, published more than 20 years ago.
Pedigree collapse occurs when cousins marry cousins, sometimes intentionally, but often unknowingly. “When cousins of any degree marry, their genealogical lines fold back on themselves,” he explains. Over the generations, this greatly reduces the number of ancestors, but only to an unmanageable few billion.
Over the past few days my email has been clogged with questions about whether or not anyone- everyone was related to royalty. Well being the geek that I am, I decided to a quick bit of research and here’s what I found out (these are excerpted for the articles noted at the end of this posting… feel free to read them in their entirety).
[A] mathematical study of genealogy indicates that everyone in the world is descended from Nefertiti and Confucius, and everyone of European ancestry is descended from Muhammad and Charlemagne.- Dick Eastman
…everyone of European descent has royal ancestry. – Steve Olsen
The mathematics of our ancestry is exceedingly complex, because the number of our ancestors increases exponentially, not linearly. These numbers are manageable in the first few generations—two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great-grandparents—but they quickly spiral out of control. Go back forty generations, or about a thousand years, and each of us theoretically has more than a trillion direct ancestors—a figure that far exceeds the total number of human beings who have ever lived. – Steve Olsen
Finding a lost family connection can be daunting, exhilarating and exasperating. The human need for connection to family and community is strong. And, the desire to find lost family members can become nearly all consuming.
In order to succeed in this search, here are 5 pointers might be helpful (especially if you are new to genealogy).
Find as many family member names are you can, even those that are a vague part of your personal or family recollection are useful.
Identify places or place names. It is best if they are ‘close’ to accurate but even inaccurate places names can provide guidance and pointers.
Dates, creating a list of dates matched to places and names is best.
Scour the Internet for any/ all matches you can
Contact people that hit your key search criteria. If you read this site closely, you will note that I have been contacted numerous times.
Don’t give up. Just because someone does not have the information you seek do not be discouraged. Rack your brain for more information to help people help you. Re-contact people if your remember another clue or find a new one…
It is my experience that genealogists are generous people. They want to find their family and want you to know yours as well. Give them the information yu can no matter how tiny the tidbit(s). You will be surprised what information can be gleaned from right clue.
With the latest release of GRAMPS (version 3.2.2) I have been able to more tightly integrate the WebSite output of GRAMPS with the ManyRoads site. With this most recent release I have the flexibility of generating html pages- YAY! I am now able to provide the following functions quite easily:
I can add an image -or multiples if I wish- to a GRAMPS generated webpage
Now I am able to effectively link from my GRAMPS (subsystem?) back to my main site; link to pages like my Conatct page or a family branch page.
Similarly I am able to links from my GRAMPS subsystem to the world-wide web.
All in all this additional functionality makes the total site function more smoorthly and in a more integrated fashion. There remain several ‘intergration’ features/ items that would be helpful to GRAMPS -IMHO. These include:
the ability to preserve custom pages as I upgrade to new releases of GRAMPS (right now I need to do that manually)
an easier way to modify and preserve the GRAMPS subsystem css (to preserve my local look & feel)
and a prettier display of html pages within GRAMPS
Excepting the ugly display of html, each of the remaining tasks can be performed manually; it just would be nicer if they we a more standard function within GRAMPS.
The bottom line is that I am VERY happy with GRAMPS. It is easier to use than most commecially available genealogy tool sets, and the support from the GRAMPS team is exceptional! Kudos to GRAMPS.
To fix the problems, Craig and I devised a fairly simple plan.
Craig sent me the genealogical documents he had in his possession.
He agreed to travel to Plattsburgh, New York in search of additional source evidence.
I agreed to re-read (this time more carefully) all the documentation I had in my possession; this evidence was mostly sourced from Pati Gravel and Barb Deyo (a lot of photos, emails, as well as numerous Wilfred Deyo’s documents- Deyo histories).
I was to re-plow through available evidence on Ancestry.com and see what I could find. This was especially crucial in that I had to confirm notes from Craig for which we were missing source documentation. Not to mention, I needed to this for the information from Barb, Pati and Wilfred as well.
In total things worked out as we had hoped; we found a more complete and accurate (we believe) ancestry for our Deyo Branch of the family. There remains a lot of work to do but we believe our evidence and source materials are aligned and as accurate as they can be given the data at our disposal. In this effort, we added some 500 pages of additional source data.
We did the work all in the span of 7 days. As my daughter would say: “Hooray for us!”.
As I have written numerous times before the Deyo portion of my family is a bit of a challenge.
Well recently, my analysis and documentation of the Joseph Dion line was once again brought into question (by my new friend Craig LaPine!).
On Saturday the 24th of April, I received the following email note from Craig:
Hello Mr. Rabideau. I enjoy your [ManyRoads] site regarding the Deyo family. I am a descendant of Emma Deyo (a daughter of John and Mary Ann Bonah, whom I don’t see listed on your site [meaning I missed Emma]). I have specifics on her but she first married Charles Lagoy and the Fred Belair. I am from the Lagoy/Deyo line. Anyhow, I see that you listed John’s parents as Joseph and Julie Denis and his parents as Benoit Guyon and Marie Alain. Today I was looking up Joseph and Julienne’s marriage in the Drouin files and found that they were married in Napierville on 22 Jul 1828. Her parents were listed as Ignace and Julie Fall). Joseph’s parents were listed as Ignace (from St-Marc) and Marie Anne Gervais. Have you come across these names before?
Needless to say this brought to question my Joseph Dion to Benoit Dion/ Marie Allain family line. Not only had I missed his ‘Emma’ but I had introduced serious structural errors into the line. I reinvestigated. As I rummaged around, I stumble across a note from Wilfred Deyo that had been given me by Barb Deyo. Wilfred’s note [analysis] reads:
John Deyo & Mary Anna (Bonnin) Deyo
Short Genealogical History
According to his death certificate John Deyo was born in Rouses Point, New York on February 23, 1839. The year 1839 agrees with the data in various Census Reports on the family. He was born the son of Joseph Yon/Dyon and Julienne Denys. Julienne’s surname like Joseph’s took on many variations over the years- for example Denis and Dennis. She was also known as Julia, the English version for Julienne. There were many variations of the French Canadian names in the early years because of their inability to read and write in both their native tongue and English. Therefore they were unable to understand the names as they were spelled and entered in the records. And then there were priests in Canada in those early years that made personal decisions as to how the names of the family would be spelled. Most of the spelling of the names was based on the phonetic sound- the sound of the name as given by the person involved in providing the information for the records, such as births, marriages, deaths and of course Census Reports.
John Deyo was married under the name of John Dyon to Maria Bonin in St. Ann’s Church at Mooers Forks, New York on July 2, 1866 according to a copy of his “marriage certificate’ the writer has. The name Dyon appears to be a simple mis-interpretation of the name Dion. Maria was recorded under a number of names, both given and surnames as time went on. For example, she was known by the first names of Maria, Mary, and Anna. Mary, of course, being the English version of Maria. Surnames were also Bonin and Bonah. These names are all English versions of the French name Bonney. The name Bonney appears on a postcard that she received from a brother in Tacoma, Washington in the year 1915. The writer has that postcard.
John and Mary Deyo had 10 children. One name Jean Baptiste Yon (after his father) died in infancy.
John (Jean Baptiste) and another brother Frank (Francois) were both born in the United States while their sisters and brothers were born in Canada. Frank being born in 1837 and John in 1839 which were then known as the “Troubled Years” in Canada- that is when the French Canadians made an attempt to gain their independence and seize Quebec and failed. It appears that Joseph and other heads of French families living close to the American border (LaColle) decided to cross over and did return after the trouble was over. Joseph did migrate to the United States in the early 1850′s and become a U.S. citizen in October of 1861.
John Deyo died in Altona, New York on April 15, 1924.
Anna (Bonin/ Bonah) died in Altona, New York on February 17, 1937.
are both buried in the Holy Angels Cemetary in Altona, New York.
Note: Rough draft.
Date: September 3, 1986
Wilfred F. Deyo
No doubt, I had missed something important. The problem needed to be fixed. Craig and I discussed and analyzed the problem (via email); we were on our way to repairing my mistake. Craig and I compared notes… discussed options.
Our plan was a simple one. I would do the Ancestry re-work. Craig would trek to Plattsburgh to see what he could find. It was great having a partner doing our family genealogy. The fix was on!
Merging branches (also known as cutting and pruning) is something you will most certainly need to do; unless you never make mistakes! I just encountered a situation like that with my Deyo Branch (I seem to enjoy making mistakes in this line…).
By way of providing background, a newly discovered relative was kind enough to point out that I might have made an error in selecting Joseph Dion’s parentage. The good news and bad news is, he was correct. I had Joseph linked to an incorrect branch of the Guyon family tree. It was a very nice branch, just not the right one… Well after much panic and research, I built a new branch of the Deyo Family Tree. It joined up with the old male line about three generations out; had a completely different matrilineal line.
With paper I’m guessing you’d just need a big eraser and a newly sharpened pencil… ‘unfortunately’ software is much more robust and requires a lot more planning. I could not leave my genealogy database as it was, so here’s what I did (oh and you can do this too with your genealogy software). Before going too much further I think you should know that I recommend doing everything ‘the hard way’ by that I mean without pushing a button to delete and then merge branches and the following process description reflects this approach.
First you need to do some research (searching?) to identify the new line. Load it all into a GEDCOM capable system. I built my new line on Ancestry.com because it is easy, fast, and I pay for a subscription to use their databases (which have lots of good data).
When you are satisfied with the new branch (or in my case branches) download it (them) to your PC.
Open your genealogy software tool.
Save your database (make a copy).
Select the person(s) where you want to cut the old branch; remove them as the child from the family where you believe they no longer are associated.
Run some tools to clean up your internal database links, record IDs, etc. Basically scrub things shiney clean.
Import your GEDCOM file (the one from step 2; hopefully your software does this nicely and smoothly).
Attach your new family(families) to the person mentioned in step 5.
Save your database. (Yes, again… label it so you can find it; do this so you can reconstruct things if they go ‘pear shaped’)
Run some tools to clean up your internal database links, record IDs, etc. Basically scrub things shiney clean. (Just another repeat by Mr. Paranoia)
Identify and clean-up duplicate People, Events, etc. — I use a mix of manual and automated methods for this. I find the automated tools are somewhat ‘less than thorough’.
Run some tools to clean up your internal database links, record IDs, etc. Basically scrub things shiney clean.
Save your database (make a copy).
You should now be done and hopefully things will work like you had hoped. You can see my efforts on the Deyo Branch of our family tree. This method will leave the old branches in your main tree, should you wish to reconnect to them. In my case the branch started with 447 people; I added 201 new people from new family sections and after clean-up have 591 individuals.
Numerous excellent FREE genealogy sites are available- probably too many to mention. Beyond the sites listed below from LovetoKnow, I suggest the following exceptional sites (obviously these relate heavily to my areas of research):
Huge database of ancestry data. Be sure to check out the information on how to get started. Also offers many tools and resources in addition to information such as charts and forms for tracking your family tree. Also find related mailing lists and message boards. [This site is owned and operated by Ancestry.com these days.]
USGen Web Project
Volunteers and researchers work to provide free genealogy resources to those searching for the roots to their family tree. Easy to search by state or name. The site has several genealogy projects going in addition to this website. One of the projects is a census project.
Many of the resources at this are free, although there are some paid resources. Check out the handy research guides and find out how to get the most from your efforts. Also offers Jewish family history resources and African American resources. Register for free for further access to records. [This site is owned and operated by the LDS Church and is under-going a major renovation and expansion.]
Request a free lookup (up to 2 per day). Many different articles on how to find your ancestors, including how to make sure you’ve found the right person. Tons of free databases on this site, including Irish Ancestry, Native American, Mexican and United Kingdom.
Clipart for creating a family tree or genealogy website. Includes family tree graphics and layouts as well as other graphics and forms. For an example of how to lay out an ancestry page on your own website, check out the site owner’s layout. Obsolete Site 28 Jul 2010
Search for Ancestors
In addition to free searches for family members on your tree, you can also try out the tombstone birthday calculator. Be sure to visit the freebies page for goodies such as free charts, databases, research guidance, lessons, free trial offers and free articles and tips. [Appears to be another Ancestry.com affiliated site.]
Family History Circle
Blog detailing many of the latest news in the genealogy world. Includes an Ancestral Weekly Journal. Categories cover topics such as journal articles, a weekly planner, tips from the pros, quick tips from visitors, quote of the day and what happened in different years.
Biography assistant allows people to post notes on people in their family and draw from what other users have written. The “Genealogy How-To” section covers topics such as getting started in genealogy, getting organized, and developing research skills.
Unique site allows users to post different types of documents and records for others to peruse. For example, there is an area on Revolutionary War documents, and another on Pennsylvania archives from 1664-1880. Don’t miss the spotlights page for feature item.
FamilyLink.com Sign up for free at Family Link and upload your personal profile. Fill in the information you know about your family tree and then seek the advice of local genealogists in your area or the area from which your family hails. You can also do a quick search by surname or areas in the world.
Share your information! It’s a really good idea. Almost certainly someone out there is looking for a family member or two of yours.
The corollary is: you know how hard it has been for you to find reliable information, why not make it easier for everyone by generously making your work shareable. Of course, you want to protect your living relatives. You also want to be acknowledged for your efforts. Each of these objectives are easily achieved.
Gendex files ‘automagically’ protect your living relatives data.
Creative Commons offers license schemes, at no cost, to protect your intellectual property.
For those of you who are not familiar with GENDEX here’s a brief write-up on what it is as described by GenealogyToday.com:
The gendex.txt concept was developed by Eugene W. Stark who included the feature in his GEDCOM to HTML translator software, GED2HTML, which helped people publish their family trees on the Internet.
GED2HTML is a program that inputs genealogical data in GEDCOM format, and outputs a collection of HTML files suitable for presentation on the World Wide Web. The output produced consists of HTML files containing the individual data, an index suitable for quickly locating an individual by name and an auxiliary surname index with links to the first individual with each surname.
The gendex.txt files were originally accepted by Stark’s GENDEX site, but since that site was retired in 2004, other sites (including ours) have begun supporting the format.
Integrating GRAMPS and WordPress is a very straightforward activity. Not a lot of special skills or tools are required in order to make this integration work smoothly. I have to say it is one of the things I like best about GRAMPS.
A couple of points worth remembering (knowing?) first:
Don’t expect to update your GRAMPS data through WordPress. My experience says GRAMPS works best from a data collection and manipulation perspective as a stand alone PC application.
Neither database is ever truly linked in this integration. I think that is good for a number of reasons:
Your GRAMPS database can be secured (remain private)
Breaking one system doesn’t break everything; a good feature for those of us prone to checking our systems recovery processes regularly.
Websites are better for sharing information than they are for updating it. This is especially true if you have constrained network bandwidth, lots of different media and files of varying sizes including many that are BIG! I would guess that these conditions encompass most people doing genealogy.
So on to the integration… there are basically 5 major steps:
People fear the past… they fear their history. I have had countless conversations with family genealogists who have problems bringing unwanted, or bad news to their families. The bad news is ‘how you say???’ — rarely well received.
Bad news is a term I use loosely. More precisely I am referring to the news that family members don’t want to hear. Or in my case, they have other tales and myths that they really want you to re-enforce, not deny.
If you have looked closely at this site (ManyRoads), you have noticed news like that. Every family has undesireables, be they facts, people or circumstances. However the truth is always the best policy!
What I tell people when they encounter genealogical resistence is to have their recalcitrants stand in front of a mirror; look closely at what they see; and thank all those people and stories they want to know nothing about. Were it not for those predecessors they would not be there. The reflection would be someone else. We are our accumulated past. The interesting people, the boring people, the successful people, the failures… we are all of that and more.
We are interesting! And the truth of who we are is essential.
I have customized the output of GRAMPS standard web generation tools (NAVWEB) to create a look & feel that is consistent with the ManyRoads website. Please be aware that there remain bugs in the tooling (such as the web links from GRAMPS outward do not display or work correctly). Also, and more importantly, the data continues to be a work in progress. As with most family genealogies you will notice that ours is not balanaced in terms of distance in time or breadth of known ancestry. I guess that’s all part of the fun!
We hope you find the information useful, informative and easy to follow.
Should you have information that you’d like to share with us please use our Contact page.
Based upon my decision to use GRAMPS as our primary genealogical database management environment, I have begun the transfer of family branches (both public and private) into our new format. If you look closely, you should notice the appearance of new page links from our various menus…
As I undertake this transition, I will be going through quite a bit of re-entry and re-building of our data. Today I placed a private file online. In the next week or so I hope to transfer the Deyo Family materials from TNG into the new GRAMPS format. Each of these efforts will be incremental, meaning as soon as I have useful data, it will go on-line.
Using GRAMPS as a primary management, storage and presentation tool for our genealogical data came about slowly.
As many of you may recall, I tried and still use numerous family databases such as TNG, RootsMagic etc. However, moving genealogical data back and forth across three or four tools before placing it in a single secure location took a lot of extra time. As luck would have it, I have need to create both hard copy and on-line versions of a branch of our family tree this week. All weekend I was moving data around, sourcing new information, merging old files and images. Doing all this in one place is a lot of work; doing it in three or four was just too much. I had to stabilize my tool-set and simplify my work load. I choose to move things into GRAMPS version 3.1.2.
Here are my primary reasons for choosing GRAMPS:
Media Management, especially photos, is superb. The whole process of adding an image and having it be associated with an Event, Person, etc. is very straight forward and easy to do.
Event sharing. I truly prefer the way GRAMPS allows for the sharing of a single event artifact and related media across numerous persons. Like you, we have a significant amount of Census data and images to share across whole families- some folks had a LOT of kids! This tool-set makes that easy and direct. It also greatly reduces the amount of storage space you consume; not to mention reducing the entire image and document caching load.
Backup are simple and complete. GRAMPS seems to offer the most powerful and complete back-up process around. It allows for a quick AND complete backup of all your data, including external media files. My 60MB GRAMPS database backs up in under 60 seconds.
Automatic text document creation is powerful and direct. GRAMPS offers a host of output options. They offer ‘fair’ web output and excellent hard copy output. Since I most often require printable medium, this arrangement works fine for me.
Standard but peculiar interface. Most maintenance functions have the same look & feel ie. event, person, source, place, etc. Once you get the hang of the style, it is simple to move around the system and get things done quickly.
Oh and did I mention, GRAMPS is free. I love open-source tools!
I’ll follow this posting with additional insights and observations regarding the GRAMPS tool-set. I will include both pros & cons. Until next time…
One of the great joys of doing genealogy work is that every once in a while, you make a great find. A find that brings on a feeling of joy, wonder, and belonging. Yesterday was one of those days for me.
I know I have been offering a lot of insights into issues associated with using Ancestry.com but yesterday’s experience reinforced “why I use and value Ancestry.”
Lately, I have taken on the effort of cleaning up and adding to some of my earlier genealogical work. As you probably already know genealogy requires a lot of organization as well as continual care and feeding.
Well, as luck would have it, I found one of those always interesting, frequently useful, Ancestry Hints. The hint was for my g-g-g-grandfather Raphael Robidoux (aka. Russell Rabideau) and his wife Euphemie (gotta love a good name!). When I selected the hint, there they were! I had never seen them in anything other than a photocopy of the image before, but here was their photo (digitized- I know.). Wow!
Thank you dkmessier_1 of Vermont, USA. I truly appreciate your contribution.
One quick trick I discovered for repairing problem Genealogy data involves using an editor -I like geany and gedit… probably because I run on Linux. But truth be known, any editor with a global find & replace function should do just fine!
Here’s the typical scenario. You have a data corruption problem that occurs throughout your database. I always encounter problems like foreign character corruption… you have probably seen words like A@$0n in your files, too. To make matters worse, they appear in various fields and across numerous records. What to do???
Well the obvious, but painful, answer is to sit and retype everything using characters that don’t get jumbled up on your machine. After about three of those, if you are like me, you get really grumpy. No one at home likes you anymore. A bad scenario.
A better scenario is to generate a GEDCOM file of your database ie., MyDB.GED. Open MyDB.GED in your favorite editor. Next, perform a global search/replace of the unreadable or incorrect ‘words’ with something that makes you happier. When you are done, save and close the MyDB.GED and finally upload it to your Genealogy DB.
I did this last night in a database with 3500 people, 10 unreadable terms and completed the whole effort in under 45 minutes.
Ancestry files require a lot of clean-up before they are really useful or accurate. As I noted earlier, the files themselves need to be scrubbed of duplicates, overlapping records and more.
In order to accomplish these repairs, I use numerous tools to address the requisite tasks including:
GRAMPS (a Linux Genealogical Toolset)- I like this tool a lot because it provides wonderful facilities for performing the following functions:
Merging duplicate Sources
Merging Duplicate Places
Identifying and Merging duplicate People
RootsMagic 4 provides nice facilities for:
Pruning branches and limbs
TNG (The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding): (Note: I no longer use TNG- 28 Jul 2010)
Merging duplicate Sources
Merging Duplicate Places
Identifying and Merging duplicate People
Web Presentation of Information (see our Genealogy page)
Gedit (a Linux Text Editor):
for building quick Gedcom files to import into the various tools
Geany (a programming editor):
to modify TNG for blending with WordPress
to edit files and text off-line
The clean-up of a 500 person tree took me about three days (25 hours) of effort. Each of the tools alone would not have done the job by themselves. Numerous tools were required to repair the problems both introduced and allowed by Ancestry.com.
In a subsequent article, I’ll cover additional pointers to watch-out for when you embark on a conversion and clean-up effort.
I don’t know how many of you, like me, use Ancestry.com as their data collection and ‘easy analysis’ site. I suspect quite a few.
As you may be aware I have been pouring through a significant section of my father’s family- the Deyos. This research effort has generated a set of over 500 people. Also because the research is about 90% in Quebec, that means there is a lot of overlap in that portion of my family tree. People are cross-related numerous times over; in my case there are about 5 junctions. This brings me to my point… Ancestry.com does not deal with overlapping, repeating family lines very well at all; or if it does, I don’t know or understand how.
For my purposes, this means I need to perform the following tasks before I even can consider publication or archiving my data:
Merging repeating family lines
Merging and simplifying ‘Places’
Merging and simplifying Sources
Merging duplicate People, yes Ancestry allows people to be duplicated, triplicated, quadruplicated…
Downloading Ancestry “Media”- images, documents, etc.
Each of these ‘essential’ tasks appear to be either unsupported or not offered by the standard Ancestry.com online system; perhaps these features are offered by their commercial Windows based PC application, I don’t know.
The bottom line is that users of Ancestry.com are in for a significant manual and off-line effort when attempting to clean-up their files.
In my next post, I’ll cover the tools I used to address these issues. If you have ways of dealing with these problems and wish to share them, please post a comment or use or Contact form to let me know, and I’ll publish your ideas.
Norway offers exceptional internet research facilities for genealogy.
Although we have not been working in the Sivertsen family line very long we have uncovered some very helpful web-tools. Thus far we have unearthed several excellent, dare I say indispensable, tools:
Norwegian Historical Data Centre (a wonderful repository) – The Norwegian Historical Data Centre (NHDC) is a national institution under the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Tromsø (UiTø). Our main aim is to computerize the Norwegian censuses 1865 onwards together with the parish registers and other sources from the 18th and 19th centuries.
National Archives of Norway – Digitalarkivet (Digital Archives) is the Norwegian National Archives’ channel for publication of digitised archive material in the form of images, transcribed texts and databases. The publication includes archive material both from electronic sources and traditional paper sources, that are either digitised from an original or a microfilm. The digitised material is processed in the National Archives (Riksarkivet), the regional state archives (statsarkivene) or in our digitising units. Some of the material is also produced through external co-operation.
Digitised Parish Registers (Church of Norway; Lutheran) – This is a new service from The Digital Archives, offering you browsing and presentation of digitised parish registers (as images). It is an extension of the already established service from 1998 that offers you searchable databases of transcribed sources.
There are other sites worth using to help get the ball rolling such as those assisting with Nowegian Gothic script, naming conventions, etc. Some of those links may be found on our links page under Scandinavia Genealogy.
Books offer some of the best information! Personally, I find history texts and map books to especially helpful in doing my genealogy work. So if you are like me and are always looking for good places to obtain free textbooks, I highly recommend the following web locations:
Open Culture -Get free online courses and texts from the world’s leading universities. This collection includes over 250 free courses in the liberal arts and sciences. Download [...] courses straight to your computer or mp3 player.
textbooksfree.org- This site provides MANY pointers to places, sites and organizations offering free “printed” matter.
Wikiversity – an interesting Wiki providing distance learning facilities/ content
Wikibooks- Wikibooks is a Wikimedia community for creating a free library of educational textbooks that anyone can edit. Wikibooks began on July 10, 2003; since then Wikibooks has grown to include over 35,822 pages in a multitude of textbooks created by volunteers like you!
The Internet Archive (was mentioned in The best non-genealogy genealogy places #1)
If you have places you’d like to contribute to this little list, please feel free to send them along or add them via a comment.
Ancestry download issues?? Like the rest of you, I need to download my Ancestry work files. Also like many of you, maybe all of you, I encounter problems.
Here’s how things don’t work for me. To perform a download of a gedcom file is not difficult, although the function is pretty well hidden. To access the function you need to go to the Main page of a Family Tree (one of yours); select Tree Settings (in the nearly invisible tiny green font just on top of the Tree Settings Box- cleverly placed outside the Tree Settings box). Once you select that option, a new view will open and to the right is an Export tree button. Push the button and your ONLY option (without any settings by the way) takes place. They generate a GEDCOM file for you which is easily downloaded to your PC. Having that file you can now input data to your PC or Internet based genealogy software.
Did you notice I did not say you can input all of your Ancestry data? The GEDCOM file you have in your hands will seem to be missing the following:
NO links to any Ancestry documents
NO links to photos
NO links to Stories
just no links
I also have noted that the Ancestry files themselves are not checked for internal integrity. Problems abound, duplicate people, bad dates, etc.. You will need to fix those in your other genealogical software. Oh well.
I know this article doesn’t provide much help but I thought you might like to be forewarned…
As you work on your genealogy be sure to work on branches and items in logical groups. Do not scatter your efforts too much or you risk becoming confused, muddled and inaccurate.
I find that my best and most productive work comes when I work in a single or focused area of my family either by picking a ‘branch’ or following a group or family history theme. Working in this manner I find I develop much better control by being attuned to the following:
Local history, more precisely history of the time and place, is much easier to keep in mind. History can greatly affect the movements and choices your family has made over the years. Chances are as you move back in time, cultures, religions, geographies, etc. will change. Your familiarity with these environments may be scant. It is much easier to learn and remember if you stay focused.
Language, mix as few at a time as you can. Stay comfortable. I find I am comfortable in English, German and French. You will have similar limitations. Get help where you can or learn as much as you need to get by. If you stay within your cluster of competency and within a theme or time, you will find the quality of your research improves. Working in a smaller less diverse linguistic range provides for easier work.
Some of the most useful genealogy sites and locations, often are not genealogical in nature, include the following:
Internet Archive. This site is associated with the wayback machine, for those who remember that. The site provides access to a wealth of source documents, histories, etc. All the documents provided are free of copyright encumbrances, which means that they are available for download and use. If you look around ManyRoads, you will find a host of Quebec and German documents sourced from there.
Your library! Libraries the world over provide access to a wealth of documentation, history and today electronic media. Although I am constantly frustrated by my library’s inability to gain access to the weird texts I seek, I love the electronic access they provide me. I am even able to use their services from my home or remote locations. Included among the access services they provide are Ancestry.com and HertiageQuest.
dlibra. This Polish group of websites (there are some 10 of them) host a wealth of documentation and maps from the past. For those seeking to unearth information about the former German lands of East & West Prussia, Silesia, and Pomerania these sites are a godsend. The quantity of documentation and its easy availability is magnificent.
The Town Clerk. Never underestimate the value of a good town clerk. I have had a great deal of assistance come from helpful people running the Town Offices of towns from which my forebears came. They have provided me with tips, document copies and numerous pointers. Just don’t forget to be polite, ask nicely, and be appreciative!
Honesty is one of the most important dimensions of good genealogy and family history. We all have backgrounds that we would like to say were ours. However, sometimes we have to settle for the fact that we are who we are.
If you truly want to provide and accurate family history and genealogy, you need to look at things as they are, not as you wish they would be. Facts, information and knowledge form the basic building blocks of good genealogical research. Your family history requires not only knowing who your people were but why they may have done what they did, chose what they chose. Like you, remember they made choices, were presented with dilemmas and made mistakes.
Try not to judge. Report. Comprehend. Have compassion for the people of your past. If you do these things, you will find you develop a deeper appreciation for predecessors and their circumstances. And more importantly, you will develop an appreciation for yours, where you came from, and who you are.
Yesterday while working on my genealogy, I accidently got carried away. Hard to believe but true. Here is what I found myself doing, then questioning and finally fixing.
I was conducting initial research on Ancestry, seeking the basics about who was born of whom and where. As is typically the case, I was using the Ancestry hints as pointers on where to look and attempting to ascertain what was real versus imaginary, in terms of facts, individuals and data. You may or may not be aware, but when you research this way on Ancestry, Family Tree hints indicate whether or not a “user family tree” contains sources, stories, images, etc. My rule of thumb is to never use a family tree without Sources. Up until yesterday that seemed to be a good rule excepting for one small item. A source by Ancestry’s definition includes another Ancestry Tree.
What I discovered was that as I got further back in time, there were many Trees for which the only sources were other Ancestry user trees. To my mind that is a circular and even detrimental definition. I had assumed (I know that’s wrong) that a source was always a Historical document. At least, it seemed to me like it should be. Well it isn’t.
As a result, I had to go back through three lines, actually the ends of three lines, and remove every person for which there were no historical documents . My conclusion, or rationalization, was these data were fundamentally flawed or inaccurate.
I sure wish there was an easy way to see if Ancestry Tree hints had any real historical data or sources behind them. So… I figured out what was wrong with MY logic! I need to only take Trees that have RECORDS associated with them. RECORDS refers to Historical records and that is what I should use as my criteria.
I sure wish I wasn’t so good at making assumptions!
If you know of a handy and easy way to check that out on an Ancestry Tree hint, please use the Comments below to let us know.
During the past few months, I have been honored by my friends at the Parker Family History Center; they have expressed interest in having me speak at numerous genealogy groups with which they are involved including the Parker Genealogy Group, the Colorado Genealogical Society and the Parker LDS Family History Center.
Here are excerpts of the comments I have received on my presentations thus far:
Thank you so much. I will take your information to our next meeting and ask the members what they would most like to learn. The Colorado Genealogical Council has a speaker’s list available for all the genealogical societies and I would like to add your name and information to that list. [...] I’m very excited about what you have to offer. [...]thanks again.
Thank you very much for your program June 12th and PGS is looking forward to Oct 9th. I would love to see any programs you give wherever they are and to the Colorado Genealogical Council and Parker Family History center. The [people] who are in charge of the Family History Center will be in touch with you about your programs and when they might be. I was asked by the Colorado Genealogical Council to give them names of people I knew who are great speakers. I gave them your name. [...] Thank you for your interest and for just being you.
<warning>People seem to rarely examine the information “behind” a record name or label. I find very little evidence of people having struggled to read the actual record content. Often they don’t even bother to get the dates from the records!
This lack of analysis presents a huge problem. As you probably know, many genealogical records list parents, but I frequently find that suggested family trees (hints) have parents that vary from those referred to in a birth, death or marriage record. As I noted earlier, frequently the recorded dates themselves are not even used. Dates provide wonderful clues and they’re not even documented in many of the hints I see!?!
When I have completed my examination of the actual source content suggested by the hints through squinting and deciphering, often I find I have identified all manner of additional disconnects.
How can anyone be so casual and lax? Sadly they must be. Otherwise why would I see countless mismatches between the source record and tree content?</warning>
Ah well. I really should not complain, I guess. I should just look at these suggestions, assume they are wrong and see what hides behind them, in the content. That’s what I do; and frequently, I find gems. However, my trees rarely agree with those of the majority. But then these are my family members I’m trying to find. I’d like to be as close as I can be to finding my real relatives.
Family stories are not always true. If you have been doing any amount of genealogy perhaps you have discovered that out. If not, you may be in for a rude awakening.
My family, like most, comes with it’s fair share of myths and fables. Certain family members are seen as being larger than life, other are viewed as being evil villains. The truth, as it turns out, is both more exciting and at the same time mundane.
In all the literature you are told to gather oral traditions regarding your family, as the start of establishing your family history and genealogy. Although that is a good idea it also a bit risky. Let me explain. Growing up you may have heard stories like:
Great Uncle George was a hero in the Civil War.
We are descendants of Thomas Jeffereson.
Grandma Jones was born in a potato field.
Aunt Marie was the daughter of an Indian Chief.
You get the drift… what each of these family tales offers is in most instances a thread, a place to begin, a kernel of truth. As Paul Harvey used to say on his newscasts “but now here’s the rest of the story”.
Your job as a genealogist is to find the “rest of the story”. Acknowledge and listen to your family stories, search them out. But while you search, do not become blind to the facts you find because the discovered facts are in disagreement with your lore. Remember your search is for the real family history not some imagined past. A good Family Historian- Genealogist should look to see what was, not what some family member(s) may have imagined, hoped for, or dreamt.
In certain instances, you may find the family lore to be true; in others, you may find there is nothing to link the lore to the realities as they occurred. Do not bend the facts to match the lore rather accept the facts as they are and be satisfied with them, for they more closely represent what really happened.
Be happy with your family’s past, for without it you would not be here.
I don’t know how it happens but it does, at least for me.
As I noted in an earlier post, not all source documents are easy to read. Often they are muddled, smudged, faded, and torn. Sometimes the authors had been quills, bad penmanship or unsteady hands.
Yet somehow this stuff is readable. Even when it’s not.
I know that sounds strange but I can assure you it is true. I don’t know how many times I have been pouring over documents looking for threads of information when suddenly in the midst of an illegible mass there appears a relative.
One particular case comes to mind. I was searching for a g-g-grandmother’s death record in an old Zeyer (German) Church Death Register. I had been going through pages and pages of poorly focused, blurry, palsied writings, where I swear the Pastor must have used his finger nails and not a quill to write the pages, when suddenly there she was! A friendly researcher sitting next to me heard me jump- we share that thrill at the Family History Center probably because we all work at little tables sitting in two neat lines in a very dark room.
I needed to be certain that I wasn’t just wishing something into this document, so I interrupted my neighbor’s train of thought, a second time, to ask for verification. Scarcely believing that I had just found something wonderful in this squiggly, blurry mass, I asked her if she could see what I saw; and she did. She saw my grandmother’s name, too.
Here’s the page and view…. what do you see?
I am not certain if magic is the right term. I don’t know why these things jump off the page at me and others. As person who spends a lot of time working with engineers and discussing physics, I guess I could attribute this to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Or, I could just be happy that I have found my g-g-grandmother.
For those of you who have not used genealogical source data before, I can assure you this is an adventure. In most ways, my experiences have been very positive as well as curious. I should also admit that almost all source material I have used has been either German or French Canadian. I have never either needed or used US English materials beyond that which is available in an online, computer accessible format for my research.
Whether your source materials are online or microfilmed they often provide many of the same challenges:
Script is often old and presented in unfamiliar styles ie. Fracteur or Gothic for German, Latin or Latinate for Roman Catholic, etc.
Oddly enough most of the original authors had no idea you would be attempting to read their writing some 100 or more years after it was written. As a result, it is often scribbled in a ‘short handed’ or abbreviated manner. This is especially the case for French Canadian records.
Frequently their quills were tired or their ink was weak. As a consequence, you get a lot of practice squinting and attempting to see things that are barely visible.
Some of the authors suffered maladies that made their writing difficult to decipher/ read. For example, I have had to plow through church records where the pastor obviously had Parkinson’s disease or a similar affliction.
I guess the bottom line is to be prepared. The joy of discovery can be extraordinary when working with original source documents but the work may be difficult and challenging. But as with most things in life, anything worth having is worth working for…
Probably one of the most valuable primary sources of genealogical information today is provided by the LDS (Latter Day Saints- Mormon) Church- FamilySearch.org.
The website itself is not really the most useful aspect of their service. In truth, I personally find the online components to their site to be less valuable then that of their primary competitor- Ancestry.com.
So what is good about the site you might ask. The best part of FamilySearch is their ability to find microfiche/film within the LDS archives and make it available to you! Squirreled away in a very hard find, dark corner are two crucial search functions:
one finds allows you enter an area or town name the ultimately informs you of the availability or unavailability of original source documents
the second search function informs you of the location and hours of your nearest LDS Family History Center where you can order the microfilms and read them.
The way the film procurement works is really quite simple. Once you find the items are available through the LDS, I recommend you go to (visit) your nearest Family History Center; it’s best if they are open when you arrive. Enter, sign-in and tell the person in charge that you would like to order a microfilm. They will help you with the order, always confirm the film numbers. Each film costs about $5.50 in the US. After the order is placed with the LDS archives, it takes about 3-4 weeks for the film(s) to arrive. Once they arrive, the Family History staff will call you to inform you of their arrival. You may then visit your Family History Center anytime thereafter, until the film rental expires, to read your ‘documents’.
For those of you who may have some trepidation in visiting an LDS Church, I can say that my experiences have been very positive. I have never been asked to join their Church or cajoled in any way.
A very important dimension of genealogy involves history and context. You may already know that and if so, perhaps this posting is not for you. However for those of you who do NOT remember your geography and history, here are some recommendations. These recommendations are based on the assumptions that:
our ancestors lived in a time and place where governments existed,
boundaries and regions were known,
customs and mores prevailed, and
languages were spoken, written, and read.
(Note: Please be attuned to the fact that any one of the above can and will impact your ability to understand and interpret the data you “dig up.”)
Having set this simple stage let’s move on to the recommendations.
Before you start research in an area where you are unfamiliar or uncertain with any of the dimensions of the first list, read. By that I mean, brush up on the history of the time and region in which you research. Become familiar with what was going on where your family members lived. Develop an understanding of what normal for them, these ‘things’ may distinctly different from what is considered normal today.
It is fairly easy today to become acquainted with the basics of the past and upgrade your understanding. Tools you should consider in this area include:
Language translation sites
Church and Religious History sites
The Internet Archive
Any or all of these can and will provide you with quick access to information. Use it. Understand a bit about the past, it will help you to better interpret what you read in the records you find.
Genealogical research always presents dilemmas. These dilemmas almost always have significant impact and represent important family history decisions. I will try to provide some examples.
First every family historian or genealogist needs to decide their role and its potential impact:
Are you simply trying to gather bunches of names and places -or- are you doing your best to identify the path of your family through history?
Do you expect that others might wish to leverage off of your work -or- are you planning on keeping everything closely held and secret?
Is this a serious effort -or- are you involved in a ‘flight of fancy’.
Obviously I can’t answer these questions for you but hopefully you are able to answer them for yourself. It is important to have answers to questions like these because the responses will inform you of the best approach to and handling of your genealogy.
If genealogy is a ‘light weight’ casual activity for you, you should make every effort to keep your information private and away for accidental public use. Remember there are many out in the world who believe accurate and serious information is essential to identifying their roots and history. If you do not the chances are your information is also casually gathered analyzed and managed. What that means is that the data is potentially fraught with errors.
As a user of public systems like OneWorldTree, Rootsweb, Familysearch, Ancestry.com you need to be aware of the huge number of casual genealogists… and corrupt data. I think I may have mentioned examples of these problems in other posts but perhaps they bear restating:
I have encountered family trees that show Quebec peasants in the mid-1700′s being born in Quebec, dying in Quebec and being married at 18 in China; should you trust or even consider using information like that?
Yesterday I found a family tree labeled with the names of one of my forebears that indicated he was born in Maine in 1640? If you remember your your American History, there was no Maine in 1640. Massachusetts was established by the pilgrims in 1620 and Maine was part of the original Massachusetts. Again, shoddy work by someone.
So what does this all mean? Well it means I have encountered at least two people who should never have shared their information… plus it means I should never entertain using their information. In all likelihood almost everything with the fingerprints of these folks is corrupted.
So if you are casual and just want to play around… by all means do so. However, please have the courtesy to NOT share your data and efforts.
One of the biggest problems with Ancestry.com hints is in the poor quality of the research that backs up the actual hint recommendations. Couple that with poor heuristics used by Ancestry for ‘hint’ data validation and you can some real genealogical data disasters. As I noted in an earlier post, beware the quality of ‘other peoples’ work’ and ‘information’. Rely on source information if at all possible.
There are plenty of risks in doing genealogy work without taking on another’s mistakes.
There are also a number of ‘easy’ ways to mitigate the risk of assuming bad data, no matter the source. Included among these are:
Read the data BEFORE clicking any button that will incorporate the data into your database (work). Make certain the recommended data makes logical sense and is supported by source information.
Check all information against known histories of the time and place. Don’t take data that implies world trips from poor Quebec farmers in the 1700′s (as I have seen in some recommendations).
Check the sources behind other peoples’ information/ data; if you can’t find a source attribution, don’t rely on it, use it as a guide or pointer until you can find the source (a source?)
The bottom line is, if it seems incredible or hard to believe, it is probably wrong.
Getting a good picture from an aged image is crucial to developing and maintaining a good family history. Unfortunately as you look around ManyRoads, you’ll notice countless images that ought to be fixed. Aside from being a tad lazy, the skills required to accomplish this effort are significant and confusing. More
Image & document restoration is key to successfully reading many genealogical documents. The source documents we have available to us today are often simply scanned or photographic images of original handwritten documents. Many of the originals are themselves are in poor or suspect condition even before they are digitally captured. Given that is the case, we can’t be ‘flummoxed’ because we still have to find a way to read these documents in order to decipher clues about our family’s’ past. More
One of the great genealogical research problems, for me, is my recent relatives.
The folks I am refering to are either still alive or recently deceased. In either case, they are near enough that their data is most difficult to ferret out. Most marriages, births, etc that have occurred in the last 50 years and are hard or REALLY expensive to get. I guess that’s because of identify theft, etc. In any event, there are times when you (or at least I) need some of this information in order to get accurate genealogical data for select branches of the family. So are there any tricks? Well I have come up with a few. If you have others, by all means share them in our comments area! Here are mine: More