New Thoughts on “Brick Walls”

September 23, 2013

Brick_wall_close-up_view

 

Brick Walls

A couple of weeks ago, I read a blog post by James Tanner Analyzing Brick Walls — a genealogical myth or reality? and saw a presentation given by him. It was a video of a live presentation. I couldn’t find a link to that video, for which I am sorry. It was a great presentation.

After working through Mastering Genealogical Proof (MGP), DearMYRTLE’s study group on that book, and a dialog with Elizabeth Shown Mills (Evidence Explained) I think I am going to stop using that term. In fact, I rarely use it, but see it a lot on Facebook and other places where Family Historians hang out.

I know that IF I hit my head against a brick wall, I am going to get a headache, or definitely warn out. It’s exhausting just running up to that brick wall, only to be pushed back.

When working with a friend about their “brick wall”, I observed that they were so focused on that brick wall, that they didn’t see the answer, right in front of them.

In Mr Tanner’s August 25, 2011 blog (link above) he said:

“Let me give my definition of a “brick wall.” I consider a brick wall to be a researching situation where records should exist and a person should have been recorded, but for whatever reason is not found and records are not easily located. This rules out the end-of-line situations where you can no longer find records back in the 1500s or so.  “

Isn’t that like Exhaustive Research, that we talked about in the study of the Genealogical Proof Study in Dr. Jone’s book?

It’s like, to me anyway, the difference between Negative Evidence instead of Negative Findings, as Elizabeth Shown Mills taught me.

When I run up to that Brick Wall, I am starting to STOP, and see if there is a way around it. Or, Look somewhere else. Another Genealogy friend, Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist has a category on her Blog on Methodology. I have heard her speak in person, and each time reminded of “other” places to look.

In cleaning up my genealogy database, my clean up is focused on my Sources, putting them into the correct, Evidence Explained!! format. A long project, but so worthwhile. I was doing this clean up for one reason, formatting of the Reference Notes, that what I found was a number of pieces of information that I had over looked the first time (OK, couple of times). Right there in front of me, was the piece of information that I was looking for. It wasn’t a brick wall after-all, I just didn’t look enough. I think that a number of folks in the MGP Study Group had the same experience. Of course, I have learned much about research since that first time I looked at those sources.

In another example, I was trying to prove or disprove that a gentleman served in the Civil War. That’s when I learned about Negative Findings instead of Negative Evidence. I had been looking at this one document, a couple of other helpers looked at it, but missed the one small piece of information that was in the Log Book. To make a long story short, the County was wrong for MY person. Right state, wrong county.

Learned Lesson: I am going to change Brick Wall to Keep Looking and sooner rather than later.


Negative Evidence or Negative Findings

August 10, 2013

Lesson Learned: There is a difference.

I have been struggling with my search results for this Mastering Genealogical Proof study. My genealogical question is, Did James A Wake serve in the Civil War?

How can you prove that he did not serve, when you can’t find a positive piece of information that states that.

During the peer review of the Source Analysis I had done, I said that my search on Fold3.com was Negative, as I didn’t find anything. The review by the Evidence Explained team challenged me on this. In fact, the recommendation was that it is INDIRECT evidence. Looking at what that meant, was simply “keep looking”. That indirect term is a warning that you haven’t answered the question yet. All that to say that what I really had was “Negative FINDINGS“.

Evidentia-0810-04

I have adjusted my search results for Fold3.com to Indirect. Haven’t found the answer.

From the information collected so far, I will only be able to infer that he did not serve and will not be able to prove it. The inference will come from the understanding of the Classification in the Congressional Registration and not being able to find any reference to his serving in any other source that is available.


Mastering Genealogical Proof – Chapter 2 revisited

August 10, 2013

Chapter 2 – Revisited

Russ Worthington
10 August 2013

Reference:
Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof , (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), p 7-16

Book available from the publisher at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/mastering_genealogical_proof

If you have been following my Blog on the book, Mastering Genealogical Proof, you may has seen that I put a Source Analysis Report out for Peer Review. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to receive comments from Elizabeth Shown Mills. I have had the pleasure of meeting her a couple of times, in person, but did not expect to have a review of my struggle with this book.

Her comments were very clear AND very helpful. But what it did for me was to cause me to go back are read Chapter 2 again and see what I was missing. Also, I am using the Evidentia software program to help me learn. That is practice what I am learning. (for me)

When I went back at the chapter AND how I was using Evidentia I missed something that was right in front of me, but didn’t see it. The book, and Evidentia are walking me through the steps, I wasn’t DOING the steps in order.

The report I was running, and putting out for peer review was a Source Analysis Report. But what I was missing, I was creating that report with the eye of one who has already done detailed analysis on the data collected. I had already been through the cycle and was returning to document the analysis. Like reading the last chapter of a book, then judging the book by its cover.

Let me try a different way of explaining this. I see a Container of something, then describing the container after I already opened the package that was inside of the container. If I consider a SOURCE as being a Container, for this report, I should be trying to describe the CONTAINER. Is it Round, is it Square, Did it come by truck, by plane or by boat.

I should be trying to describe that its round or not. If its not round, it could get to me by truck or boat. For the topic at hand, is the SOURCE an Authored Work, or is it a Record, and that Record could be original or it could be derived from records.

The container being Round or Source an Authored Work, it might contain someone interpretation of records, but it will never be a record. The Square container or Record, might come in two forms, an original record or derived, but these two records will never be Round.

Evidentia does help me through this step. I just didn’t see it that way. The opening screen:
Evidentia-0810-01

We start with this screen, then we select Document Source.

Evidentia-0810-02

I have created a Source using the Template Feature, that walks me through the fields that need to be in a Source Statement that will become a Citation later. I must Classify what this Source is. The options are Original Record, Derived Record, or Authored Work. Is the CONTAINER Round, or Square, and if square did it come by boat or truck. Evidentia helps us with that on this screen in that. It asks if we are looking at an Image Copy, then it would be Original, or is it an Image copy that is derived. Derived from something else. Is it a Clerk’s Copy, a Transcript, and Extract, Abstract or an Index, all of which would be derived.

I got that piece right, in that I made a selection, but I was looking at a Registration book. Just thinking about that, perhaps it really is a Clerk’s Copy, and that is based on the fact that the page had names in alphabetical order and would appear that they were written at the same time. I have now changed my choice from Image Copy (Original) to Clerk’s Copy (Derived). I had to go back to that image and look at the fact that the list was in alphabetical order and written about the same time. It would appear that there was some other record or piece of paper that was then put into this Register in the proper order. My Container was Square but came by boat not by truck (Derived not Original)

The next step is to Catalogue the INFORMATION in the Container. Not analyzing the information, but cataloging the information. We start, in Evidentia, by identifying the Claims from the information that we are presented with. Is it Primary, Secondary, or we can’t determine (Indeterminable).

For a US Census Record, until the 1940 Census, we could NOT tell who the Informant of the information was. All US Census until 1940 would be “Indeterminable”. We just don’t know, nor can we guess.

Evidentia-0810-03

Can we determine from each claim who gave the information. That’s simple, or is it? Information collected from that container, could be a mixture of Primary or Secondary. Did the Informant give the information directly, from experience, or from someone else or was told about the information being asked.

In the case of my Civil War Registration record, all of the information that was recorded in that book have been concurred in by other records. So, if James A Wake gave the information to the clerk for recording into that register, the informant and Classification would be Primary.

So far, I have classified the Source as Derived, and the Information as Primary, trying not to confuse the content with the container. My peer review document had confused, but my data entry, the content then the container or source.

I didn’t see any signature, nor statement of who the informant was, so I had selected indeterminable. But the information provided would have been answered by someone who knew or witnessed making it Primary information.

The third step, sticking with this first Container or Source is to evaluate the Information Collected or Evidence from This Source. Evidentia helps with that as well.

Evidentia-0810-02

We have to choices when evaluating the Claims. Direct or Indirect or Negative. The claim makes a clear statement or we have to pull information together or to be able to answer the question.

Lesson Learned: Answer the questions, in Evidentia, in the order asked. Don’t read the last chapter of the book to find out how the story ends, before reading the book.

Lesson Learned:
This experience does NOT mean that the information is correct or incorrect. I won’t find that out until I have followed these steps, in order, several times, before I can analyze ALL of the information that I have collected. That’s the next step AFTER I have found more sources.


Evidentia–Source Analysis Report – Revised

August 10, 2013

As posted yesterday (previous blog post) there was a very lively, VERY informative discussion on this report on Facebook: The dialog include my Cousin DearMYRTLE, developer Ed Thompson, Evidencia User Jenny Lanctot and Elizabeth Shown Mills. What an honor and privilege it was to see her name at the beginning of the discussion and her contribution to this discussion.

At Elizabeth Shown Mills suggestion, I submitted it to the EvidenceExplained Forum for review. It was reviewed with some very helpful recommendations.

I have made the changes, based on ALL of the learning from this experience, and have included them in this updated report.

Source Analysis

Source: U.S. Civil War Draft Registration Records, 1863-1865 Digital Image Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010, http://www.ancestry.com, 26 July 2013 ARC Identifier: 4213415; Archive Volume Number: 3 of 6, Record Group: 10, NARA; Washington, D.C.; Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal Generals Bureau Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865 (Civil War Union Draft Records)

The source reviewed was a clear unaltered Image Copy of an original record.

Source Citation:

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal General’s Bureau; Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865); Record Group: 110, Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War);

Collection Name:

Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865 (Civil War Union Draft Records); ARC Identifier: 4213514; Archive Volume Number: 3 of 6.

Source Information:

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

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.

Ancestry.com Search URL:

http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&db=consolidatedlistsofcivilwarreg&rank=1&new=1&MSAV=1&msT=1&gss=angs-d&gsfn=james&gsfn_x=NP_NN_NIC&gsln=wake&gsln_x=NS_NP_NN&msbdy=1828&msrpn__ftp=New+York+City+%28All+Boroughs%29%2c+New+York%2c+USA&msrpn=1652382&msrpn_PInfo=6-|0|1652393|0|2|3244|35|1652382|0|0|0|&cpxt=0&catBucket=rs&uidh=ut2&_83004003-n_xcl=f&cp=0&pcat=39&fh=0&h=899095&recoff=

Information and Evidence Analysis

Citation: “Archival Research Catalog (ARC),” digital image, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010, http://www.ancestry.com, accessed 27 July 2013, ARC Identifier: 4213415; Archive Volume Number: 3 of 6, Record Group: 10 citing NARA; Washington, D.C.; Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal Generals Bureau Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865 (Civil War Union Draft Records)

Draft Registration for James A Wake is found on Line 6

Claim: This reference asserts that On the registration the subject’s name is James A Wake. The information is believed to be Primary (meaning the person providing the information was a knowledgeable eyewitness or participant in the event).

  • The evidence supporting the claim is considered Direct (meaning it adequate to answer the question directly) when applied to the question of the Name Variation of James A Wake. The Civil War Registration reports that James A Wake registered in the 6th Congressional District in New York

Claim: This reference asserts that Registration Classification 2. The information is believed to be Primary.

  • The evidence supporting the claim is considered Direct when applied to the question of the Military of James A Wake. The Civil War Registration reports that James A Wake was in the Registration Classification 2, meaning married and over 36 at the time of the registration. (see Registration assertion)

Claim: This reference asserts that James A Wake appeared in the 6th Congressional District Registration record in New York. The information is believed to be Primary.

  • The evidence supporting the claim is considered Direct when applied to the question of the Registration of James A Wake. The Civil War Registration reports that James A Wake registered for the Civil War Registration in the 6th Congressional District in New York.From Ancestry.com: 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.

    These records include 631 volumes of registries and are basically lists of individuals who registered for the draft. 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.

Claim: This reference asserts that James A Wake reported his residence to be New York on Christopher Street. The information is believed to be Primary.

  • The evidence supporting the claim is considered Direct when applied to the question of the Residence of James A Wake. The Civil War Registration reports that James A Wake resided in New York, New York on Christopher Street

Claim: This reference asserts that James A Wake is 36 years as of 1 July 1863 and would have been born about 1827. The information is believed to be Primary.

  • The evidence supporting the claim is considered Direct when applied to the question of the Birth of James A Wake. The Civil War Registration reports that James A Wake was 36 as of 1 July 1863

Claim: This reference asserts that James A Wake reported Place of Birth to be New York. The information is believed to be Primary.

  • The evidence supporting the claim is considered Direct when applied to the question of the Birth of James A Wake. The Civil War Registration reports that James A Wake was born in New York

Claim: This reference asserts that James A Wake reported marriage status to be Married. The information is believed to be Primary.

  • The evidence supporting the claim is considered Direct when applied to the question of the Marriage of James A Wake. The Civil War Registration reports that James A Wake is married at the time of the Registration

Claim: This reference asserts that James A Wake reported his occupation to be a Foreman at the time of registration in 1863. The information is believed to be Primary.

  • The evidence supporting the claim is considered Direct when applied to the question of the Occupation of James A Wake. The Civil War Registration reports that James A Wake was reported to be a foreman

Claim: This reference asserts that James A Wake reported No military service James A Wake reported No military service. The information is believed to be Primary.

  • The evidence supporting the claim is considered Direct when applied to the question of the Military of James A Wake. The Civil War Registration reports that James A Wake had no prior military service

Evidentia–Source Analysis Report (for comments)

August 9, 2013

Evidentia512

Source Analysis Report
Civil War Draft Registration Records
Prepared 09 Aug 2013 by Russ Worthington
Source Analysis

Source: U.S. Civil War Draft Registration Records, 1863-1865 Digital Image Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010, http://www.ancestry.com, 26 July 2013 ARC Identifier: 4213415; Archive Volume Number: 3 of 6, Record Group: 10, NARA; Washington, D.C.; Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal Generals Bureau Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865 (Civil War Union Draft Records)

The source reviewed was a clear unaltered Image Copy of an original record.

Source Citation:

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal General’s Bureau; Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865); Record Group: 110, Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War);

Collection Name:

Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865 (Civil War Union Draft Records); ARC Identifier: 4213514; Archive Volume Number: 3 of 6.

Source Information:

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

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.

Ancestry.com Search URL:

http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&db=consolidatedlistsofcivilwarreg&rank=1&new=1&MSAV=1&msT=1&gss=angs-d&gsfn=james&gsfn_x=NP_NN_NIC&gsln=wake&gsln_x=NS_NP_NN&msbdy=1828&msrpn__ftp=New+York+City+%28All+Boroughs%29%2c+New+York%2c+USA&msrpn=1652382&msrpn_PInfo=6-|0|1652393|0|2|3244|35|1652382|0|0|0|&cpxt=0&catBucket=rs&uidh=ut2&_83004003-n_xcl=f&cp=0&pcat=39&fh=0&h=899095&recoff=

Information and Evidence Analysis

Citation: “Archival Research Catalog (ARC),” digital image, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010, http://www.ancestry.com, accessed 27 July 2013, ARC Identifier: 4213415; Archive Volume Number: 3 of 6, Record Group: 10 citing NARA; Washington, D.C.; Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal Generals Bureau Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865 (Civil War Union Draft Records)

Draft Registration for James A Wake is found on Line 6

Claim: This reference asserts that On the registration the subject’s name is James A Wake. It is indeterminable whether the information being considered is Primary (meaning we must assume the informant was not a knowledgeable eyewitness or participant in the event).

  • The evidence supporting the claim is considered Indirect (meaning the evidence is implied, circumstantial or fails to answer the whole question) when applied to the question of the Name Variation of James A Wake. The Civil War Registration reports that James A Wake registered in the 6th Congressional District in New York

Claim: This reference asserts that Registration Classification 2. It is indeterminable whether the information being considered is Primary, and must be treated as Secondary information.

  • The evidence supporting the claim is considered Indirect when applied to the question of the Military of James A Wake. The Civil War Registration reports that James A Wake was in the Registration Classification 2, meaning married and over 36 at the time of the registration. (see Registration assertion)

Claim: This reference asserts that James A Wake appeared in the 6th Congressional District Registration record in New York. It is indeterminable whether the information being considered is Primary, and must be treated as Secondary information.

  • The evidence supporting the claim is considered Indirect when applied to the question of the Registration of James A Wake. The Civil War Registration reports that James A Wake registered for the Civil War Registration in the 6th Congressional District in New York.

    From Ancestry.com: 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.

    These records include 631 volumes of registries and are basically lists of individuals who registered for the draft. 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.

Claim: This reference asserts that James A Wake reported his residence to be New York on Christopher Street. It is indeterminable whether the information being considered is Primary, and must be treated as Secondary information.

  • The evidence supporting the claim is considered Indirect when applied to the question of the Residence of James A Wake. The Civil War Registration reports that James A Wake resided in New York, New York on Christopher Street

Claim: This reference asserts that James A Wake is 36 years as of 1 July 1863 and would have been born about 1827. It is indeterminable whether the information being considered is Primary, and must be treated as Secondary information.

  • The evidence supporting the claim is considered Indirect when applied to the question of the Birth of James A Wake. The Civil War Registration reports that James A Wake was 36 as of 1 July 1863

Claim: This reference asserts that James A Wake reported Place of Birth to be New York. It is indeterminable whether the information being considered is Primary, and must be treated as Secondary information.

  • The evidence supporting the claim is considered Indirect when applied to the question of the Birth of James A Wake. The Civil War Registration reports that James A Wake was born in New York

Claim: This reference asserts that James A Wake reported marriage status to be Married. It is indeterminable whether the information being considered is Primary, and must be treated as Secondary information.

  • The evidence supporting the claim is considered Indirect when applied to the question of the Marriage of James A Wake. The Civil War Registration reports that James A Wake as married at the time of the Registration

Claim: This reference asserts that James A Wake reported his occupation to be a Foreman at the time of registration in 1863. It is indeterminable whether the information being considered is Primary, and must be treated as Secondary information.

  • The evidence supporting the claim is considered Indirect when applied to the question of the Occupation of James A Wake. The Civil War Registration reports that James A Wake was reported to be a foreman

Claim: This reference asserts that James A Wake reported No military service James A Wake reported No military service. It is indeterminable whether the information being considered is Primary, and must be treated as Secondary information.

  • The evidence supporting the claim is considered Indirect when applied to the question of the Military of James A Wake. The Civil War Registration reports that James A Wake had no prior military service

Prepared 09 Aug 2013 by Russ Worthington

Evidentia© 2012-2013


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