HACK GENEALOGY: A New Genealogy and Technology Resource

July 17, 2013

Repurposing today’s technology for tomorrow’s genealogy

17 July 2013 – Chicago, IL. Genealogy educator and author Thomas MacEntee announces the debut of Hack Genealogy, a new resource for the genealogy industry and the growing community of genealogy and family history enthusiasts.

Hack Genealogy is about “repurposing today’s technology for tomorrow’s genealogy” and a little bit more. Hack Genealogy is more than just a list of resources: It provides information on emerging technology inside and outside the genealogy industry.

Hack Genealogy is not merely about surviving the overwhelming presence of new and emerging technologies . . . Hack Genealogy is about genealogy and technology success in its many facets.

What Will You Find at Hack Genealogy?

Here are the features to be offered at Hack Genealogy over the coming months:

· Cool GenStuff: Each day we’ll provide a curated list of the latest information about genealogy that deserve your attention.

· Discussions and Issues: We’ll discuss issues important to the genealogy community including education, self-publishing, sharing research and more.

· Education and E-Guides: Through the use of webinars, e-guides, Google+ hangouts and other innovative educational technologies, Hack Genealogy seeks to educate genealogists on the latest technologies.

· GenBiz Buzz: Learn how others have succeeded with their genealogy and family history-related business and the tools they used to succeed.

· Interviews: We’ll ask a variety of players in the genealogy landscape this question: How Do You Hack Genealogy? to learn more about how technology is being repurposed to expand the family history experience.

· Product Reviews: Reviews of the latest products and services including software, mobile apps and more.

· Resources: A listing of the best tools for every aspect of genealogy from research to sharing photos to writing and publishing your family history.

How Hack Genealogy Got Started

Hack Genealogy takes its inspiration from the Technology and Genealogy group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/techgen/) started by Susan Petersen in late 2012. As an administrator of the group, Thomas MacEntee – creator of GeneaBloggers and High-Definition Genealogy – realized that the questions asked by group members and the great content shared was reaching only the Facebook audience. Hack Genealogy is a way to get more genealogists and family historians to discuss the use of technology in a non-threatening, easy-to-understand environment.

We hope you’ll travel along with us on this journey of discovery in the genealogy and technology fields.

About Hack Genealogy

Hack Genealogy (http://hackgenealogy.com) is a technology resource for the genealogy community with a focus on “repurposing today’s technology for tomorrow’s genealogy.” Thomas MacEntee is the driving force between Hack Genealogy whose goal is to provide information on emerging technology inside and outside the genealogy industry.

Follow Hack Genealogy on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/HackGenealogy), Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/hackgenealogy) and at http://hackgenealogy.com.

About Thomas MacEntee

Thomas MacEntee is a genealogy professional specializing in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogy research and as a way to connect with others in the family history community. When he’s not busy writing blog posts, organizing the 3,000+ members of GeneaBloggers, teaching online genealogy webinars and more, Thomas MacEntee is busy in his role as “genealogy ninja.” Stealth is not easy, but he manages to get the inside track on emerging technologies and vendors as they relate to the genealogy industry. After being laid off from a 25-year career in the tech industry in 2008, Thomas has been able to “repurpose” his skill set for the genealogy community and loves to see other genealogists succeed, whether it is with their own research or building their own careers in the field.

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Contact:       Thomas MacEntee
hidefgen@gmail.com
High-Definition Genealogy
1416 W. Carmen Ave., #3
Chicago, IL  60640
+1 (773) 661-3080

Thomas MacEntee

Founder, High-Definition Genealogy

http://hidefgen.com

+1 (773) 661-3080


Technical Tuesday – To Start over again ??

July 2, 2013

A topic that came up on Monday’s with Myrt was Do I start my research over? Hmmm. With all of the new “stuff” I am learning about family history research, for a moment I thought that was a good idea. Several expressed similar reactions. But with the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS), Inferential Genealogy, Evidence Explained!, Mastering Genealogical Proof, not to mention features in our genealogy database management programs and this new program Evidentia, one might think about starting over.

Now, my database is far from perfect. I didn’t know about the items just mentioned. But I did learn to cite my sources. I even thought how important that was for those who might look at my research “later”, but more so that I could answer one question, Where did you get that information from?

At some level, I was doing some of the ‘right things’, just didn’t know what I was doing. But to start over, I don’t think so.

I really want to see how “bad” my database really is, while applying the principles of this “new”, to me, steps and processes in my research before I jump to any conclusions. Where have I heard that from.

So, here is my plan.

My daughter is considering in applying to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). In fact, she could join from a number of our ancestors and probably a couple I haven’t documented yet. The ancestor that we are going to work on, is Ann Cooper Whitall. There is a chapter in south Jersey that bears her name. But, no one has applied for membership for her in years, and has a ‘red flag’ (my term) linked to her name.

I exported the descendants of Ann Cooper, from my database, to a GEDCOM file so  that it could be imported into Evidentia. That worked well, easy to do, but Evidentia does not import sources and citations. Oh, right, it is Evidence or Source based, and I am trying to make is the ‘traditional way’ of name based. BUT, that lack of importing of my information makes total sense now that I think about it.

My Evidentia database now has a bunch of names, from Ann Cooper down to my daughter. I have my sources in my genealogy database, so I can work on each source, enter it into Evidentia, follow the steps that are included to create a “GPS” like file or profile for the people in my file.

I am NOT going to do everyone, but will concentrate on my “direct line” from Ann Cooper Whitall down to my daughter.

Since I have already spent some time figuring out how to get my Evidentia data into Family Tree Maker, my genealogy database management program, I know how I want to get the information back into the program, so I have a better documented file to submit.

Here is a link to the work that I did Evidentia and Family Tree Maker. Please remember that the Blog shows the most recent post at the top of the list. The real trick here, will be to see how merging individual people from Evidentia, back into Family Tree Maker will look at the “end of the day”. I do expect some clean up of that merge, but hopefully it will be to move some information around, from my old way of doing things, and to clean out unwanted or unneeded source material.


Technical Tuesday – Change on how to search on Ancestry.com

July 1, 2013

There has been a lot of discussion about the changes at Ancestry.com and how we search. According to Ancestry.com 2% of their current users, continue to use the “old” search, while 98% of us, use the “new” search. My only question is why have TWO different ways to search. Or in words that I have seen “two different search experiences”.

I don’t normally, for my own research, use either, or use the search on Ancestry that “is there”. I have learned how to use it. What ever the current version “it” is. BUT, I attended the Fairfax VA Genealogy Conference earlier this year and attended a presentation on how to get the most out of Ancestry. I came home so excited that I offered and was able to give two presentations to two different groups to take advantage of the new search engine.

So, when all of this discussion came up over the past few days, from what I am guessing is the “2%”, I was scratching my head. Then I read Randy Seaver’s Geneamusings Blog. Also, from reading earlier blog posts by Randy, he was giving similar presentations in local groups near where he lives.

Here is my take and how I am able to take advantage of the “new” features. I must say, that I did not try to answer my Genealogy Question with the “old” search, so I can’t compare Old vs New, but only can show how I answered this question.

Where did Ready Cash reside for the 1840 – 1880 Census?

What I knew, is that Ready Cash was born about 1800, and was located in Rockbridge, Virginia. I wanted to be able to pick him up specifically in the Census from 1840 until 1880. Before then, I might not be able to locate him, but I did for each census year mentioned.

Going to Ancestry.com and entering Ready Cash, Born 1800, and was in Rockbridge, Virginia. When I entered the Location, I started to type R O C K, and stopped and selected Rockbridge, Virginia from the drop down menu. I made sure that I did not have Exact Only selected at the top, Only Historical Records from the US Collection at the bottom of the search screen.

Search-01

The results were overwhelming. 4,251 Records from Census and Voting Lists. Far too many (for me)

Search-02

I have to do better at this. So, I put a check mark in EXACT ONLY at the top of the Edit Search window. Not marked in the screen capture above, but I can go in and EDIT my Search criteria by clicking on the Edit button just above the Census and Voting List “red box” on the left.

Search-03

You will notice that each entry has a check box next to “Exact Only” or the text below the box that says “Restrict to exact”. This should shorten my list.

Search-04

And it did, but now I am down to only 2 categories of records with Ready Cash listed. 1840 and 1870. Too far. But, lets look at the Records and not just the Categories, to see if there is any hints there.

Search-05

Looks like my person, but missing a couple of census years.

My experience with Census Records is Ages of the person, implying the year of birth, so I left the birth year at 1800, but added the /- option of 5 years. Again, the green Edit button, and in the pull down menu selected 5.

Search-06

Tried my search again.

Search-07

Gee, added 1880. When looking at the Records Tab, I just wanted to make sure that I was seeing the results for the right person. I see his name spelled three different ways, different birth years, but they do look some what consistent and that I am seeing the right Ready Cash. BUT, I am still missing 1850 and 1860.

Back to the Edit button, I wanted to loosen up the Location a bit. The New Search has an option for Adjacent Counties. Maybe he moved for those two census years. I am picking up the name differences and birth year differences and am not picking up any other “Ready Cash” names. Looks like there is only one person in the area with that name.

Search-08

It’s a pull down menu under the Location field.

Selecting and searching from here I see:

Search-09

1850 and 1860. More details are below.

Search-10

He was in Boteourt, Virginia for 1850 and 1860.

I have been able to answer my research question. I started with 4,251 hits and got it down to 1840 – 1880 census records for my person.

In reality, the first search I did, there were 1,342,175 hits. The 4,251 were only Census and Voting Lists.

Bottom line, for me is, I like the New Search at Ancestry.com. It’s a change for me and others, but in about 10 minutes I was able to answer my research question. Where did Ready Cash reside for the 1840 – 1880 Census?


Mastering Genealogical Proof–Chapter 1 Homework

June 18, 2013

Chapter 1: Genealogy’s Standard of Proof

MGP_StudyGroup

 

Home Work Assignment

Name: Russ Worthington


Chapter 1 exercises[1]

OK, so I am not a good student, but I will do my best with this open book exercise. I’ll attempt to answer the questions, but will try to explain what it all means to me.

1. What is genealogy?

Genealogy is a research field concerned primarily with accurately reconstructing forgotten or unknown people or identities and relationships. Many of these identities and relationships existed in the past, but genealogical research also includes living people. Genealogy emphasizes biological and marital kinships, but it also addresses adoptive, extramarital, and other kids of familial relationships within and across generations.

2. What are the GPS’s five elements?

  1. Reasonably Exhaustive search to help answer the research question
  2. Complete and accurate citations for each piece of information that help answer the research question
  3. Analysis, correlation, and comparison of sources and information that help answer the research question
  4. Resolve any and all pieces of conflicting pieces of information that help answer the research question
  5. Create a written statement or narrative that supports the answer to the research question

3. You have shared your family history with someone who wants you to omit all the proof statements, proof summaries, and proof arguments, including explanations of reasoning and documentation. How do you reply?

In order for our research to stand the test of time, undocumented information is mythology. However, with only documentation the reliability of that information may become questionable. Proof statements, proof arguments, proof summaries need to be included. In addition, explaining how we reached any conclusions will help improve the accuracy of our research.

4. Why can’t a genealogical conclusion be partially proved?

The five components of the Genealogical Proof Standard are interdependent and will not be able to stand on their own.

5. What is the first step in genealogical research?

Ask questions about the person or that person’s relationships that are presented in a document.

My comments:

First, I am not a professional, anything. What I have done, in the past, is to collect information about people and documenting where I found that information. I have not be one to who will say “I am a genealogist”. To me, that was a formal term that I couldn’t relate to. I was too new. I still am after about 15 years of doing this hobby. My view of a ‘genealogist’ was someone who collected names and dates at one end, or someone with a series of credentials after their name.

I learned very earlier on, about “citing your sources”. I got that piece, as I always wanted to be able to answer the question “where did you get that information from”. Why, because I was asking the same question of others research. And, I wanted to be able to go back and re-look at what I had found in that past.

I wanted to be able to create a database that I thought was somewhat reliable, and the anyone looking at my data would be able to look at what I had reported and see exactly what I saw. I also realized that these “names” had stories that might be of interest to find more about. There were “family stories” that sounded interested, but I wanted to prove or disprove those stories.

What I think I had been doing, was step one and two of the GPS process, and in a way did some analysis when comparing the data collected. But that is about as far as I got.

What this first chapter of this book told me was that genealogy is like other fields where research is involved. For me, that would be problem solving. That’s what I did before I retired. We had standards, guidelines, how to do things, and how we tried to resolve a problem. Someone would say that “something” is broken, we would try to determine what was broken and tried to fix it. If that didn’t work, re-test it, using the tools that we had.

This chapter told me, that the Genealogical Proof is like that. What I had missed was having a Question, or identify what didn’t work right. I knew how to ‘test’ what was broken, wrote down what I saw, what I did, go back and re-test to see if “it” was still broken, and continue that sequence of things until the problem was solved. Note that I said that I “wrote down” what I saw, and what I did. When I supervised others, I wanted others to do the same thing, so that I might help them resolve the problem they were working on. How can I help you if I don’t know what you did? So, my professional life, helped out, to some degree, my genealogy research.

An interesting comment in this first chapter was “no source is trustworthy in and of itself”[2] (Jones 2013) and that we deal with “sources that were imperfect the day they were created”[3] (Jones 2013). We have to interpret the evidence that we find along the way. We may have created a conclusion, but when we find new information, we should re-evaluate what was already found and ready a new conclusion. As Dr. Jones states “Our goal is to prove our conclusions”[4] (Jones 2013).


[1] Jones, Thomas W. 2013. Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society Special Topics Series. page 6

[2] Jones, Thomas W. 2013. Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society Special Topics Series. page 2

[3] Jones, Thomas W. 2013. Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society Special Topics Series. page 2

[4] Jones, Thomas W. 2013. Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society Special Topics Series. page 5


Mastering Genealogical Proof–Orientation

June 3, 2013

MGP

Well, the study of the new book, Mastering Genealogical Proof, has begun. I have already posted a couple of items on this subject:

https://worthy2be.wordpress.com/tag/mgp_study/

That was not about the book, but the use of a genealogy software program that I hope will come in handy while reading this book. Why? One reason, I am not a student. I guess I learn by trying something, figuring out what worked or didn’t work, or learn by doing.

The Orientation for this book was hosted by my cousin DearMYRTLE. To view the orientation, please visit her YouTube Channel.

Here are a few link about this program:

GeneaWebinar Calendar – Agenda Mode (general schedule for Webinar’s and other online genealogy programs.
http://blog.geneawebinars.com/p/calendar.html

DearMYRTLE’s Genealogy Community (Google+ community for discussions)
https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/104382659430904043232

DearMYRTLE’s YouTube Channel (past Hangout’s On Air with Dear MYRTLE)
http://www.youtube.com/user/DearMYRTLE

MGP Study Group Preparation (some preparation for this Study Group)
http://blog.dearmyrtle.com/2013/05/mgp-study-group-countdown-10-days-and.html

MGP Reading List Summary (see homework assignment for 16 Jun 2013)
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0vzrkpbaGH0ajVKRmgxVWh3Wm8/edit

MGP Class Schedule
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AkvzrkpbaGH0dHRpMjJNV3FtVDZRS09iNExCOFYwTHc#gid=0

Homework Due: 16 June 2013

Right now homework is to:
Read any 4 items of your choice from the reading list.

The homework sheet for each chapter will not appear until we hold the session for that chapter.

Read chapter 1 so you can participate in the discussion.

The discussion tonight was on the  Preface of the book (pages xi- xiii)

The YouTube version of the Orientation of this book.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwXZk-HMuNQ

It seems that Dr. Jones had a similar experience with Family Research as I did. Collect those names and dates in an attempt to trace our ancestors. When I started my research, I KNEW about sources and citations. I learned to answer the question “Where did I get THAT piece of information from”. That was OK, and I continue to do that. I did get a little carried away, by “merging” other people’s information into my file, just to collect those names and dates. It didn’t take me to long to stop that. I still run across a couple of entries where there are no citations.

That got me to “mistrust” data from other people. How great it was to see that in writing from Dr. Jones. The only information, from another researcher that I use in my file, is the work of cousin’s, who ARE and WERE the genealogist in the family. They really laid the foundation for my family file. Just having that data as a starting point has been awesome. I don’t remember any data, from the cousin’s, that has been wrong. I have also added many new bits and pieces to the file to help built out, and identify the stories within the family.

They had bread crumbs and hints as to who else might be hanging around the tree, but they hadn’t made the firm connection. I have followed those hints, successfully. Oh yeah, with others to come.

I had heard a couple of terms that didn’t make sense to me, like Evidence Based software. Assertions, Conclusions, and those terms didn’t click for me, but they must be important, because they, a short time later, got connected with the term GPS. The Genealogical Proof Standard was the term, that for me, really makes sense. Like the GPS that I have in my car, it “gets me somewhere”, or gets me to where I want to go.

It wasn’t until I heard about a software program, Evidentia, did I finally understand those terms.

This book has been designed, according to the Preface, to help us (me) to understand and use the GPS. This is going to be a Journey, with the Author, and Dear MYRTLE’s community, where we can “collectively” or collaboratively understand genealogical methodology and reasoning.

When I read “brick walls were permanent barriers” I knew what he was talking about. I guess I get distracted enough, trying to find other people, that I didn’t keep beating my head against that brick wall and give up. I just went in another direction.

How am I, with very little hope of ever visiting England, going to figure out WHO “Capt.” John Worthington’s (1650-1701) parents were. In an earlier study on Inferential Genealogy, also by Dr. Jones, That was the question that I have had in front of me. And now about 15 years later, as I was preparing to study this book, I am pretty sure WHO they are.

I am going to use Evidentia and this book, to help prove who I think is Capt John’s parents are.

I mentioned mistrusting information earlier, while in Salt Lake City, UT earlier this year, I found the actual book on a Mistrusted source of information. There were a couple of good hints, but other data that I couldn’t confirm, so I had basically discarded that book as being a good source. So at some level, I had evaluated the information on Capt John, but discarded it. Going back, I looked again. The words didn’t change, BUT, on the same book shelf was another book that had some additional information. So, the first book looked better, but something still wasn’t right.

To make a long story short, the “bad source” book had some hints, that lead to the 2nd and a 3rd book, that got me back into England, about the right time period, right place, but still not Capt John. Then, some new records came Online and a 5 page letter from the Worthington Family History Society, of which I am a member, will help me build the family.

My plan for this Study Group, is to use this book, to help me confirm who Capt John’s Parents are.

When I have given a presentation about how I research, I try to make two points. 1) Not everything is online, and 2) You must have Patience. I generally add “Yet” to the not everything is online, and use Patience about every other bullet point in a presentation.

I am excited about this journey and I hope to post our homework assignments here. Probably more for my benefit then anyone else, but I  am willing to share that experience based on the way I learn. Who knows, it may also help me create a presentation to share with others.

Dr. Thomas W. Jones,  PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA., Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013.


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