Mastering Genealogical Proof–Chapter 1 Homework

February 24, 2014

MGP-2 – My Chapter One Homework Assignment

We have started the second round of study of the Mastering Genealogical Proof in the DearMYRTLE Genealogy Community on Google+.

I am again reminded, in the Preface of this book, about how many of us started in the study of family history. One thing I learned at the beginning was “Cite Your Sources”. I have done that, thankfully. I knew why, at the time, mostly so that I could answer the question “Where did you get that information from”?

The first go time through this book, I learned lots. Mostly from the Conversation that took place with the Panel, and the Community as we worked through the book.

So why am I doing it again. To learn more.

Dr. Jones mentioned, in the preface, about being self educated. I got that one. But he continued about attending conferences to learn more. I can say “Been there, Done that”. I learn something every time attend one. Either a local meeting, of which I try to attend 2 different ones a month, and up to Roots Tech 2014. Each time, I pick up a GEM at each one.

But my learning experience is now taking form by ‘teaching’ at two local senior centers locally. I am not sure that it’s as much teaching as it is sharing my experience.

Without the tools, like this book, I would not have taken that next step. I learn from each class that I share. But the foundation is working through these home work assignment in my own way, based on the principals in this book.

One of the questions that was raised in the book is about the word Genealogy. I have seen a number of discussions about a genealogist and a family historian. Is there a difference? Should there be a difference?

If wasn’t until I was asked to give a presentation at a local Historical Society did I start to understand the difference. My thought was the methods that a Genealogist does in their research. I wasn’t there, that was for the professionals. I just wanted to get those names, dates, and places. I did that, BUT, what I realized was that I was capturing their Stories. The local Historical Society was capturing the story of the community, and I the stories of my families. For me it was a transition or the desire to find out who these people were and to try to tell their story for those that might follow.

The genealogists do have their principals of how they “work” and this workbook spells out the Genealogy Proof Standard. The five steps! Only five steps????

Looking for all of the records that you can find. I have talked about that in the blog from time to time. It’s exhausting at times. But the trick that I learned between the MGP-1 and MGP-2 Study Group, is to go back and look at what you already have. After all, we / I have learned new “stuff” from the first time I looked at that record.

I did cite all of my sources the first time, but were then detailed enough. Easy answer, NO. I am not a student, so I didn’t know how to cite correctly but my genealogy database program provided a feature to more accurately cite my sources.

That lead to the next step, which I “sort-a” did. I knew when something didn’t look right, or appear right. But didn’t know why. Somewhere along the way, I learned that I needed to evaluate what I was looking at. Does THAT make sense? I don’t though the bad out, but know that the information I was looking at isn’t mine person, or something is wrong with that piece of information. The puzzle pieces don’t fit together.

The next step is to identify and resolve conflicting information. One of my students taught me this one. We had conflicting information on what a persons name was. The son of the person with the conflicting information was in the room. We were looking at a census record when we saw the conflict, and the student asked me to scroll up the page and down the page. OK, I did. He pointed out that the Census Taker wrote everyone’s name the same way. Surname, Middle Initial, First Name. Easy resolution to that conflict. That resolution was put into the research notes for that fact, so that we knew that there was a conflict and how we resolved it.

The last step, isn’t so easy for me, and that is to write up a proof statement. It’s that writing down of the conclusion of your research that is very important. Of course, that conclusion may change with the next piece of information that you find. I have that in my own research, where the “paper trial” says one thing, but DNA test results shows another.

The most important lesson that I learned several times now, is the first step in this process. That is to have a Clear, Specific, stated Goal or Question to be answered.

For me, to get there, I have found that I need to cycle through these steps several times. Testing our findings, comparing and contrasting this new piece of information against what I had before.

One important thing that I learned / relearned this 2nd time through was the reminder that the jobs that I have had over the years, each had their own way of doing “things”. Standards of how we worked. Before I retired, I worked with a group that did this all of the time. We knew how things were to be done, we put measures in place so that we could tell if we were doing a good job, created plans to improve what we were trying to do.

The real life learning experience has helped me with my family research. We could do lots of things really well, but other things, not so much. In our case it was the customer experience. The customer was seeing our overall performance, and would be the judge of how well we did.

Our research is the same. Each step is related to the others. Researching very well, without evaluating that research, my not lead to the correct conclusion.

I look forward to our continuing discussion on this book.

 

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

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


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.


Mastering Genealogical Proof – Case Study – Step 1

July 27, 2013

Step 1: Source Citations (case study)

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine gave me a piece of paper, as she wanted me to look up her Civil War ancestor. She didn’t have a lot of detail, only this sheet of paper.

CWDraftRegistration-Wake_JamesA-p1

The citation page was attached:

 CWDraftRegistration-Wake_JamesA-p2

I had not seen this type of record before, but my first place to look was to go to Fold3.com to see if there was a Civil War Record. I searched and browsed based on the information in these two pieces of information. Nothing was found.

Since this image came from Ancestry.com, I wanted to locate it and “see for myself”. Found it quickly, but I wanted to know more about this collection.

I went to “About U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865” to see what it might tell me. (Ancestry.com Operations 2010)

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.

The registry contains information including:

  • Class
  • Congressional district
  • County
  • State
  • Residence
  • Name
  • Age on July 1, 1863
  • Race
  • Profession
  • Married status
  • Birthplace
  • Former military service
  • Remarks

The actual draft registration records are available in NARA regional archives and sometimes contain more information than the consolidated lists.

In the case of James A Wake, he was listed in Schedule II of the Consolidated List, on page 201.

Looks like I better start a project on this person. As I have learned through the study of Mastering Genealogical Proof (Jones 2013), I need to craft a Question, actually, I will create a couple of questions:

  1. Did James A Wake serve in the Civil War?
  2. Can I place him into a family?
  3. How is James A Wake related to the person who gave me this paper?

I am going to use the software program, Evidentia to help build my case for these three questions.

Here is what I suggested earlier, for my process.

clip_image004_thumb.jpgFor this case study, I am going to start with what I know, based on the source listed above.

I will create a Source Template for this image, as there wasn’t one provided, based on Evidence Explained, page 555 (Mills 2007).

That is difficult to read, but here is what I looks like, with I generate a report in Evidentia.

Evidentia

Claims by Source

CW Draft Registartions Records

Prepared 27 Jul 2013 by Russ Worthington

Below you will find the claims you have documented for the selected source.

Source Listing: 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)

First Reference: “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)

I then entered the information from this image, as Claims in Evidentia.

Here is what I read this source to claim:

Civil War – Draft Registration Records 1863 – 1865

  • James A Wake appeared in the 6th Congressional District Registration record in New York
  • James A Wake reported his residence to be Christopher Street
  • James A Wake is 36 years as of 1 July 1863 and was born about 1827
  • James A Wake reported marriage status to be Married
  • James A Wake reported his occupation to be a Foreman at the time of registration 1863
  • James A Wake reported Place of Birth to be New York
  • James A Wake reported no former military service

This was entered as individual claims into Evidentia, which now looks like this.

Now the Claims are linked to a Subject.

{Registered}              James A Wake

{Residence}              James A Wake

{Birth}                       James A Wake

{Marriage Status}      James A Wake

{Occupation}            James A Wake

{Birth}                      James A Wake

{Military}                  James A Wake

The Claims based on the Source Report now looks like this.

Below you will find the claims you have documented for the selected source.

Source Listing: U.S. Civil War Draft Registration Records, 1863-1865 Digital Image Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010, http://www.ancestry.com, 26 July 2013 ARC Idenifier: 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)

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

This reference asserts that:

  • James A Wake appeared in the 6th Congressional District Registration record in New York.
  • James A Wake reported his residence to be Christopher Street.
  • James A Wake is 36 years as of 1 July 1863 and was born about 1827.
  • James A Wake reported his occupation to be a Foreman at the time of registration 1863.
  • James A Wake reported Place of Birth to be New York.
  • James A Wake reported no former military service.
  • James A Wake reported marriage status to be Married.

So far, none of the questions can be answered. A negative source entry will be entered on the Name, James A Wake, as not being found in Fold3.com by Searching and Browsing.

Since there is only one Source entered so far, AND we haven’t reviewed Chapter 5 of Mastering Genealogical Proof (Jones 2013). I will do some searching for US Census, as we know at this point, that James A Wake was born about 1827 in New York, and was still in New York in 1863 when he registered with the 6th Congressional District.

At this point, I am only reporting and entered into Evidentia, this one Source information. Not enough information to evaluate, and am not even sure that it’s the right person. Basing the “right person” from the person who gave me the information.


Mastering Genealogical Proof – And Suddenly the light bulb went on ….

July 23, 2013

And Suddenly the light bulb went on ….
Russ Worthington
22 July 2013

Reference:
Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof , (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), viii.

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

The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) has been a mystery to me. I think that every time I hear someone speak on this topic, and in this book, I “hear” or “read”

clip_image002

A couple of the terms may be different, depending on who is presenting.

Please understand that I am not saying that there is anything wrong with this, and in fact, I think it is very accurate. But, sometimes have issues with theories. Not good in higher level math classes. In taking courses when I would go to school for my job, some classes were a waste of time, especially computer software. The instructors were excellent, but they taught using examples that I couldn’t relate to.

Today I was working on Chapter 5 of Mastering Genealogical Proof, when the Light Bulb Turned ON. (Can’t say “went off” based on some comments that were made with we were talking about Chapter 4, with Dear MYRTLE).

I have been trying to understand where the genealogy software program(s) fit into this theory. The terms were also confusing to me. Conclusion? I’ll probably never have a conclusion on anyone in my family tree. That term to me, is the end of the line, I am done, I have concluded that …… Not in my life time.

Slowly but surely, the study of this process has introduced a new way of thinking about what it is that I do.

Somehow, from the very beginning of my research I heard “cite your sources”. In fact, back in the PodCast days, I probably heard that from Dear MYRTLE, and I am sure others. It didn’t take me be a couple of days to figure out why that was so important. I turned “cite your source” to “where did I get THAT information from?” I got it. The quality of the sources, not so much, but I could almost get back to where I found that piece of the puzzle.

I have an almost 9,000 person database, pretty well document family tree that I can tell you where I got the information from, but the presentation of the citations left lots to be desired. Luckily Evidence Explained (Mills 2007) came out, my genealogy database software embraced what was included in that book, so I don’t have to worry, so much, about how to generate a credible citation. Spent most of 2012 reviewing and updating my Source information. Still have lots to go, but “working on it”.

I am getting my genealogy database in shape, but now I am trying to understand this thing called GPS. Working through the steps seen earlier, I was trying to figure out where my program fit in. I also use two other Genealogy Programs, Evidentia and GenDetective, and trying to see where they fit in.

I think I had made a blog post earlier that I have no plans for starting over, but to pay more attention to the GPS process, and Evidentia and GenDetective fit into GPS, I think. I know that they both have already helped me in my research, but I was still trying to fit that linear chart above, into my day to day family research.

Today, studying Chapter 5 (Jones 2013), it dawned on me, that I had the wrong picture. What if it looked like this:

clip_image003

Oh, not this made sense to me. It wasn’t linear after all, it was a circle. If I have written a “conclusion”, start around the circle again, find no more new sources to cite, I can stop going in the circle FOR NOW. That doesn’t mean that I don’t get back into the circle when / if I find a new source of information. Because as I go, I am writing as I go. Not just Citing the Source, which is what I had been doing, but spending time with it, writing down the analysis, and whatever follows Chapter 5, but I am guessing, especially that last step, Writing a Conclusion, will have some more work for me to do. I’m OK with that. BUT, it’s still a circle. Where do I START became my first question.

What if this was my chart: …..

clip_image004

Backing up to my homework for Chapter 4, that was the output of the Source Citation circle above.

I may now have to back up to Chapter 4 again, to see where Evidentia, GenDetective and Family Tree Maker fit in. They are in there somewhere.

There must be a couple of more blog posts in there somewhere, to explain this process, as I understand it, so that my research can be improved.

References

Jones, Thomas W. 2013. Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society.

Mills, Elizabeth Shown. 2007. Evidence Explained. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company.


Mastering Genealogical Proof – Chapter 4 Homework

July 23, 2013

Chapter Four Homework Assignment
Russ Worthington
21 July 2013


Reference:
Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof , (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 33.

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

In reading this chapter, I thought I should go back to see how my genealogy database program handles my citations. I have spent a bit of time studying this, after Family Tree Maker provided us with Evidence Explained (Mills 2007) source templates.

Specifically, I used the 1940 census, here, as an example. What I had done in the past, is to determine what data was asked for in the creation of a New Source entry, then determine what data is needed to be entered in the Citation Detail and Citation Text fields.

Family Tree Maker 1940 US Census Template:

Population Schedule – United States, 1880-1940 (by Census Year and Location)

Fields Data Entry
Census Year 1940
State Pennsylvania
County Chester County
Publication number T627
Film roll number 3579
Website title Ancestry.com
Database publisher Ancestry.com Operations, Inc
Publisher location Provo, Utah
Database year 2012
URL www.ancestry.com
Comments

The Reference Note below, is the output of the above.

Reference Note:

1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Pennsylvania, Chester County; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 3579; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com).

I wanted to determine what were the results of my data entry and what was provided from within Family Tree Maker

From the Template:

1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Pennsylvania, Chester County; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 3579; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com).

From the hidden information:

1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Pennsylvania, Chester County; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 3579; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com).

Template Information Not used:

Database publisher
Publisher location
Database year

Reviewing Evidence Explained (Mills 2007) as the basis of the citation / reference note, I identified what I needed to include in the Citation Detail field. It is apparent that the Citation Text field information is not needed for the complete reference note.

But, to remember what information I needed to enter into the Citation Detail field, I put this in the Comment Screen for the Source template. Each new Census Template that I create, I copy and paste this from a previous Census Template.

What I put in the Comments on the Edit Template Screen:

[ civil division ]; enumeration district [ __ - __ ]; sheet number [ ___ ]; house number _; [ street name ]; family number _ ; Lines _ – _; [ person of interest ] household; accessed

This is the Citation Detail information that was entered for this example

Birmingham; enumeration district 15-3; sheet number 3-A; family number 49; Lines 31 – 34; John Marshall Highley household; accessed 06 Apr 2012

The completed reference note looks like this, color coded below as a reminder of where the information came from in Family Tree Maker

Reference Note:

1940
U.S. census, population schedule, Pennsylvania, Chester County, Birmingham; enumeration district 15-3; sheet number 3-A; family number 49; Lines 31 – 34; John Marshall Highley household; accessed 06 Apr 2012; NARA microfilm publication
T627, roll
3467; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com).

To compare this to Evidence Explained, I went to the QuickCheck Model for a U.S. Census Record from Ancestry.com

QuickCheck Model (p. 240) (Mills 2007)

Field Example
Census ID 1850 U. S. census
Jurisdiction Marian County, Iowa
Schedule Population schedule
Civil Division Lake Prairie
Page ID p. 290 (stamped)
Household ID Dwelling 151 family 156
Person(s) of interest Virgil W. and Wyatt B. Earp
Item Type or Format Digital image
Website Title Ancestry.com
URL (Digital Location http://www.ancesry.com
Date Accessed 16 January 2006
Credit Line (Sources of this Source) Citing NARA microfilm publication M432; roll 187

1850 U.S. Census, Marion County, Iowa, population schedule, Lake Prairie, p. 290 (stamped), dwelling 141, family 156, Virgil W. and Wyatt B. Earp; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com ; accessed 16 January 2006); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 187.

Compare this example, to my example:

1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Pennsylvania, Chester County, Birmingham; enumeration district 15-3; sheet number 3-A; family number 49; Lines 31 – 34; John Marshall Highley household; accessed 06 Apr 2012; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 3467; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com).

Differences:

(Mills 2007) Year US Census, County, State, population schedule, Jurisdiction

(Family Tree Maker) Year US Census, population schedule, State, County, Jurisdiction

Page number vs Sheet Number – 6.8 Citing Page, Folio, or Sheet Numbers, page 261 (Mills 2007) has a note, that I interpret so say that, depending on the Census Year and Enumeration District, the form may be different.

Line Numbers – 6.7 Citing Line Numbers, page 260 (Mills 2007) has a note, that I interpret to say, if there are line numbers, they should be included, as well as the page number.

Household – can be eliminated

Citing – should be added

What is the importance of Stamped and Penned – (Mills 2007) page 270 indicates that some pages may have multiple penned numbers as well as stamped numbers on some pages. – need to re-evaluate and update as appropriate

Mastering Genealogical Proof, page 33 – 35
(Jones 2013)

But, does the above meet the standard provided by Dr. Jones, which is:

  1. Who
  2. What
  3. When
  4. Where in the source
  5. Where is the source

I think so, but:

Questions:

  1. Is the order of the information significantly important?
  2. Is the punctuation significantly important?
  3. Do either of these examples meet the “standard components” of a good Source Citation
  4. What about the use of “p. #” or “page #”, as seen in Table 1 (Jones 2013)?
  5. How important are End Notes vs Foot Notes, specifically in the way our genealogy software programs provide us?
  6. Chapter 4, page 36 (Jones 2013), figure 1, used the term “Viewed”, Appendix B used the term “Accessed”. Which one is correct?

In the panel discussion in the 21 July 2013 with DearMYRTLE, we discussed these and a couple of other issues that others had.

  1. The panel suggested that State names should be spelled out.
  2. Abbreviate where possible, terms like Not Dated to be n.d.; but should be noted somewhere the list of abbreviations being used and be consistent
  3. The order of information is not all that important, but be consistent
  4. Punctuation, was not discussed, but I will be reviewing those punctuation characters that I can control
  5. Page # or P #; like the earlier comments, be consistent
  6. The Foot Notes vs End Notes could go on for a while, but the most preferred Foot Notes for ease of reading. It should be noted that some of our genealogy database management programs will not allow the user to control this.
  7. Viewed or Accessed was more about the physical viewing of a document, while accessing was for online information being reviewed

The above two examples, Evidence Explained (Mills 2007) and Family Tree Maker, I think clearly reflect what we used for the information (Facts or Events) provided in the container (Source), but there is no indication in the reliability of the source.

References

Jones, Thomas W. 2013. Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society.

Mills, Elizabeth Shown. 2007. Evidence Explained. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company.



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