Mastering Genealogical Proof–Find-A-Grave

July 22, 2013

There was going to be a discussion about how to cite a Find-A-Grave entry in the Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group on 21 July 2013, but the time ran out. This is not a homework assignment for Chapter 4, but merely how I handle this topic.

Since Ancestry.com is now indexing the Find-A-Grave website, I have had some success if search results leading me to a link on Ancestry.com. The results look like this:

FaG-Worthington_HenryRussellJr

The name has been blanked out, but those are the details from Ancestry.com. They provide a link to “Go to website

There is a lot of discussion about the use of an “Index” or to Cite and index. What I have learned from this study of Mastering Genealogical Proof is that we should not use an index in a proof document. I totally agree with that. That said, it does not tell me that I should cite that, as a source in my genealogy datebase management software. I have chosen to do that and here is the format of my Citation, as created with the use of a Template in my program.

For this purpose, I have chosen to use an Online Database; Cemetery Derivative template, the result is:

Ancestry.com Web, “New Jersey, Find A Grave Index, 1664-2011″, database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com) Database online; accessed 20 Sep 2012. Index for Henry Russell Worthington, Jr.

Following the link from Ancestry to Find-A-Grave, or since I created the memorial on Find-A-Grave, with my photograph, I want to cite that as well. Here is a link to that memorial page: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=49480185

Information from that web page is entered into my database, with the following Citation:

Russ Worthington, “Find-A-Grave”, database, Find A Grave (www.findagrave.com) Henry Russell Worthington (1916-2006) – Find A Grave Memorial# 49480185; accessed 03/08/2010.

That is using the same Template as the one from Ancestry.com. Perhaps the memorial number is not important here, but knowing the memorial number on the Find-A-Grave website, makes searching for, or getting directly to that memorial page easier. It’s a search field on the Find-A-Grave website.

What about the photograph that is there? In this case, it’s mine and I could publish it in my Ancestry Member Tree, online at Ancestry.com. However, I have a policy for all of my Find-A-Grave photographs to mark them private in my genealogy database, so they will NOT appear in my Ancestry Member Tree. I can see it locally in my database, but not online.


Civil War Registration but NO Service Records

July 15, 2013

I have blogged about this non-genealogy database management software program before. Evidentia.

Unlike those programs, it’s not about names, dates, and places, but about Sources or containers of Information.

A friend of mine gave me two pieces of paper and asked me to look up her “peeps” on Fold3.com. The print outs were from a Civil War Registration book. She wanted to know more about these to people and the Civil War. I can do this, Fold3.com here I come.

I had the Name, residence, age as of 1 July 1863, born in New York. I wanted to start with me finding the same document that she gave me. Found it, using Ancestry.com’s new search, very quickly, and there he was on line 6.

2013-07-15_010542

Name: James A Wake
Residence: New York
Class: 2
Congressional District: 6th
Age on 1 July 1863: 36
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1827
Race: White
Place of Birth: New York

2013-07-15_010639

It said the he was a Foreman.

The other person was similar, but 2 years younger and in different Congressional District.

I hadn’t seen this type of ledger book before, and didn’t even realize there was such a book. Very nice find. This should be easy.

Fold3.com, next stop. I tried searching for both James Wake and George Hendrickson. No luck in the Civil War Service Records, so I then used the Browse feature, working my way down the various options. Nothing. How can this be.

As an aside, I am struggling with Chapter 3 of Mastering Genealogical Proof book by Dr Thomas Jones and “Reasonably Exhaustive” Research.

Then I remembered a lesson that I heard a number of times, to understand the records you are looking for or seeing, to discover what they were created for and what might you find on that record collection. Back to Ancestry, found the record, then scrolled down to the page to the “About” collection name. Here is the link to this specific collection:

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1666&enc=1

So, putting this collection into history, the page says in part.

About U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865

This is a collection of lists of Civil War Draft Registrations. There were four drafts between 1863 and 1865, which included 3.175 million records. Historically, the 1863 draft was one of the most tenuous moments in the Union outside of the battles fought on Northern soil. Most of the concern was due to the draft riots that took place in New York in 1863.

Note the date just before the AGE, 1863. Yeah, OK, but that doesn’t tell me why I didn’t find these two gentlemen in the Civil War Service collection on Fold3.com. Since I was on Ancestry.com, I looked there too. Nothing.

I did my collecting of ‘normal’ information, all sounded straight forward, BUT, there is a CLASS column. The younger one had Class 1, the older, by 2 years, had Class 2.

Back to the information about the collection.

The records are split into two different classes, Class I are those aged 20-35 as well as those 36-45 and unmarried. Class II is everyone else that registered.

The younger one was 34 as of 1 July 1863 and married, the older was 36, also married. So, the classification was correct.

Maybe the reason they didn’t show up in the Service Records is that they didn’t sign up. This was only a Registration.

It appears that one was over the age limit, with the second approaching 35, and both married.

What was the question that was posed to me? Would you find the Civil War Records for these two people? We have to have a question to answer, or why would we be searching.

My current hypothesis is that they did NOT serve in the Civil War.

Did I do an “exhaustive research”, probably NO, but there are clues, for me, that they did not serve. The full step in the Genealogical Proof Standard has the word “reasonably” in front of it.

That doesn’t mean that I am not going to stop searching, but only putting that question aside for now. I don’t consider it a brick wall, but there must be a story here somewhere. It also doesn’t mean that I won’t re-ask that question as new information is found.

Why these two names, don’t appear to be related, both from New York, but that is about it. Oh, yes, my friend. There must be a connection there somewhere.

That may be a story for another blog post.

Guessing there is more, I am entering this data, from the Source Document, into Evidentia.

Source Information

Ancestry.com. U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010., accessed 12 July 2014.

Original data:

Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registrations, 1863-1865. NM-65, entry 172, 620 volumes. ARC ID: 4213514. Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War), Record Group 110. National Archives, Washington D.C.


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 (MGP)–Warm Up

June 15, 2013

As some of you may know, Dr. Thomas W. Jones published a new book, Mastering Genealogical Proof and that cousin Dear MYRTLE will be holding a number of Google+ Hangouts On Air, with a number of Panelist to discuss the book, chapter by chapter. More details can be found on the Google+ Dear MYRTLE Genealogy Community.

Folks will be posting their Homework somewhere but will be available in the Dear MYRTLE Genealogy Community.

But, before I start,  I would like to put this book into context for me. Two or so years ago, this book might as well have been written in another language. The words didn’t make sense to me. I have heard lectures on the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) and I think I understand how it works. But I was missing something.

Dear MYRTLE and I were also helped start the BetterGEDCOM project, because we weren’t able to share our research. Most importantly about that exchange of information, had to do with the loss of Citation’s that were in the file. We both used two different genealogy database management programs.

The link about for BetterGEDCOM was the blog. There is also a BetterGEDCOM Wiki which was created so that end users and developers could discuss how to resolve this and many other issues. To make a very long story short, and to share the impact of that project on this book, is that a number of the developers on the wiki were using words like Conclusions, Assertions, Claims, there was even one comment where it was asked if there was a Source driven software program around.

Looking at my database, and far from perfect, I could never draw a conclusion on most information in my database. I had lots of facts and events, 95% of them were documented with Source and Citation information, but a conclusion, No way! The wiki, to me, was interesting but I didn’t understand what they were talking about.

Between BetterGEDCOM and the Mastering Genealogical Proof book, a couple of things happened. I learned about what Inferential Genealogy was about, many posts here on that topic, attending a couple of lectures by Dr. Jones, in Fairfax, Virginia, and the introduction of a Source Driven program call Evidentia. of which I have also posted about. There is a link to the Evidentia website, on the right of this page.

Dr. Jones and several other genealogist of note, helped me understand the GPS piece, but this whole notion of source base software AND some of the words being use in understanding GPS. What Evidentia did for me, what the translation of “those words” into something I can understand.

For example: Conclusion to me a “final conclusion”. But while learning how to use Evidentia, “The current hypothesis is” is a conclusion. I can live with that. As I work with that, I found it important to me to Date “the current hypothesis”. Conclusion = Current Hypothesis.

The use of the term Fact, as in my genealogy database, is another example. I record the FACTS that I find in a Source. What I should be doing, and am now doing, is looking at the Source and see what it CLAIMS to be true. Fact = Claim.

That other word, assertion, was also a mystery for me. That term and the process to make an assertion, was not something I had been doing. This SOURCE CLAIMS this to be true. The assertion assigns a Person to that Claim. Now that source may make many assertions, but each one may carry a different weight.

I think that over the years, I may have been doing some things right, but Mastering Genealogy Proof AND Evidentia will take me a long way, I think and hope. The steps in using Evidentia “walk me through” the steps that I should have been taking in the past. I think there is a difference between “thinking” about the data and actually having to enter it into the program.

The best example of this, is a known unreliable source that I have seen in the past. I disregarded that source because I could only find ONE place (source) that “talked about” a brother of Capt. John. Because I couldn’t find the brother, I discarded the source and all of the evidence (claims) it may have had in it.

I talked about that here: One Brick Wall is now dust

Finally, and I have not read the book cover to cover YET, only the first chapter, I wanted to have a problem to solve, using this book and related “home work” / open book test. In the lectures I attended with Dr. Jones, and Inferential Genealogy, I learned to have a specific goal in mind, written down. So, my goal is to break down my brick wall. That is, to Identify the parents of Capt. John Worthington (1650 – 1701).

For more information on this Group Study, please check my earlier blog post on it: Mastering Genealogical Proof–Orientation


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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