You’ve invested a day off and a tank of gas to have a precious four hours at an ancestral county courthouse, state archive, or local library. You want to make the mostof every minute. Here’s my high-powered hit-and-run data grabbing technique to get home with maximum ancestral data in minimum time. Continue reading High-powered hit-and-run data grabbing technique
If you post your genealogy to online trees, you’ve undoubtedly had that jolting moment when you see a precious photo of your parent displayed on a stranger’s page. You know they got it from your tree, but no one else does. Most are borrowing and forward-sharing without awareness of proper genealogical etiquette and protocols. The world is then losing its path back to the original image. Here’s a way to improve your chances that the desired information will travel with the image. Continue reading Embedding origin captions into your images
Some of you started long ago. I started six months ago. Perhaps some of you will start today. When it comes to the very difficult and incredibly rewarding challenge of documenting America’s enslaved populations, we who descend from slaveholders are the logical ones to do the work. It makes sense at so many levels. Welcome, GEGs, to the Beyond Kin Project. Continue reading Descendants of slaveholders, we have a job to do
Most genealogy software tools offer an embedded to-do list feature–useful, as far as they go. But for me, they don’t go far enough. Most are not accessible away from your own computer. If you have to move or restore your data via GEDCOM, you will usually lose your to-do items. The tools aren’t designed to let you apply a single to-do item to multiple people. Zotero, on the other hand, provides the ideal research to-do list. It fully integrates with research notes, and it’s free.
In genealogy, a rose by any other name may not smell sweet. A feud broils over what is acceptable, when it comes to naming conventions. Do you use question marks for unknown portions of a name? Do you write helpful information in the suffix field? Congratulations, we’ll call you a Montague! Do you get annoyed when you see people doing the above, fearing trashy data transfers — a messed-up GEDCOM? You, friend, we’ll call a Capulet. In determining how to use the name fields in our software, we find ourselves having to choose the house of Montague or Capulet — expedient practicality or clean data sharing. Some want both, and we call ourselves GEGs. Starry-eyed GEG I may be, but with the right tools and rules, I think Romeo and Juliet can have a future together.
We genealogists use family trees to reflect the past, not to morally judge it. Our trees contain many family situations our churches then and now have disavowed. But we’re the historians of families; it is our job to gather, interpret, and present facts. In FamilySearch Family Tree (FSFT), I can reflect unwed parents, infidelity, common law marriage, and even incest. But FSFT blocks me from recording the legal marriage of two men. As a historian, I then have a problem: FSFT, great gift to the world that it has been, now risks obsolescence. (Welcome to my newest, and rather disturbing, addition to the Wish I’d Known Series.) Continue reading FamilySearch, same-sex marriage, and the risk of obsolescence
A research log made perfect sense once. In fact, I felt great pride in my mammoth binder with neat notations, hand-crafted tabs, and cross-referenced numbers. My notebook even had a flap with a Velcro latch to secure it. I protected this treasure, when paper ruled. But paper stopped ruling a long time ago. Once I weaned myself from the inconvenience and limitations of paper, OneNote became my research log of choice — also with limitations. But then came Zotero, which made me ask the million-dollar question: Why do I need a day-by-day research log at all? And guess what? I don’t.
You proudly display 25 sources citing life events of your grandfather John Smith, and 20 on his father Robert Smith. You’re a source citer of consummate skill. Everyone can trust your work with so many sources, right? Well, maybe. How many of those sources prove that this particular Robert Smith was your John Smith’s father? It’s a great big gap in our genealogical software — the absence of a parental relationship proof requirement. But we can solve it with a simple custom fact.
We love the censuses, don’t we? We need them. Right back to 1850, they’re our bedrock. Earlier than that, however, we dread them. Fear them, maybe. Avoid them, to our peril. While limited in value individually, however, the pre-1850 censuses become gold when compared to each other. But comparing them is a hassle, right? Not any more. I have designed an Excel tool that makes pre-1850 tally-matching a game you actually want to play. Let the Pre-1850 Census Analysis Tool* restore your sanity.
Remember when we Golden Egg Genealogists (GEGs) were innocent kittens? We could extend a family line back to the Mayflower over a weekend, thanks to those oh-so-helpful “Ancestry Member Trees” on Ancestry.com. Many of us built our early trees on those shaky branches. Here and there we might have speculated on possible family connections, adding them to the tree in an effort to chip away at a brick wall. Helpful! Then we grew into GEGs and started doing genealogy right, swearing we’d go back eventually and clean up that old mess. One day, though, we realized that a new batch of kittens were copying our oh-so-helpful and oh-so-public “Ancestry Member Trees.” Uh-oh. Continue reading The helps and hazards of speculative Ancestry tree climbing