Strategy: Conference Session Selections

2017-04-28 16.15.27The Ohio Genealogical Society Conference for 2017 was a wonderful learning experience for me and I hope for the eager learners I had in my classes. But, if you have ever attended a multi-day conference you know that they give you so many choices for a single time slot that to pick the few that you attend is a challenge.

Here are a few of the ways I decide on one session over another. I choose my sessions in this priority rank. The presentations where:

  1. I am the speaker! 🙂 It’s kinda “mandatory.”
  2. the topic is one I need to know more about for my own research or for that of a client
  3. the presentation is given by a really knowledgable and skilled speaker. They are always worth listening to, even if you have heard him/her before. I especially gravitate towards those who teach intermediate to advanced skills
  4. a new speaker or a new topic is being presented. These are just for fun!

At this conference I did a little of all four.

Group 1: to teach others

I gave three talks and I showed up for all three!  [I heard at least one presenter did not show for his workshop. That is my new nightmare.]

Group 2: to learn something new
Ohio GS had a very nice collection of African American presentations and I attended as many as I could. In addition, there were a few other presentations that were germane as well.

  • “Researching African Americans in the Wake of the Civil War,” a Case Study by Weyonneda Minis
    This was a good overview of records that relate to the African American experience. More importantly, I had a wonderful conversation after the presentation with the speaker and two other attendees.
  • “Researching Libraries and Archives of Historical Black Colleges & Universities” by Deborah Abbott
    I was very interested in knowing what types of collections they might have and how those may differ from other predominantly white institutions. This could have been under Group 4 as I have not heard her speak before. At the end of the conference we had dinner together.
  • “The Wild Terrain of Plantation Papers for Research on Enslaved People” by Andi Combs-Floyd
    I was unaware of this rich resource for the enslaved and the owner. Later, Ari Wilkins helped me find out where to access the records and our own UW Library has the set of microfilms and index! Field Trip! Andi wrote a book about her experience and I will review it here after I have read it.
  • “My Father’s War: WW II Research” by Gagel
    In July, I will attend Gen-Fed, a week-long institute focusing only on the records held at the National Archives in Washington DC. I thought attending this session might help me as I prepare for that institute and in finding my father’s Office of the Secret Service records.
  • “Urban Research: Finding City-Dwelling Ancestors in Ohio and Beyond,” by Sonny Morton
    I know nothing about urban research because all of my ancestors were farmers or residents of very small towns in the Midwest. The resources discussed were ones I was already familiar with. I recognize that in some ways that was reassuring.
  • “Did Great-Grandmother Really Disappear Without a Trace? Using State Asylum Records”
    Wevonneda Minis focused primarily on the 1900s, an era I only cover superficially in my talk about “Finding Dirk: Insanity in the 19th century.” She did however, mention the presence of Civil War soldiers in asylums and is going to send me her link to where she read about that.
  • “Finding Former Slaves and Freedman Marriage Records,” J. Mark Lowe. My biggest “takeaway” was that the individuals from different states invested in the Freedman’s Bank with differing levels of participation and it is important to know if you are trying to find something that will not be in the record.

Group 3: to learn new speaking techniques from a solid presenter

  • “The Gone, the Missing and the Misindexed: Finding Lost Families,” by J. Mark Lowe.
    Mark is a consummate story teller. I love how he weaves the story into what could be a dry topic—indexing challenges. I tell somewhat of a story, but the integration is lacking. Mark is a master.
  • “Focusing on Pathways across the Arkansas Territory,” by J. Mark Lowe
    This presentation could also have fallen into Group 2 above as Mark focused on the middle south and the colonial to the 1850s, an area and an era I rarely research.
  • “He Used to Be My Ancestor: Seven Common Research Mistakes” by Chris Staats (that’s Chris in the photo above)
    Chris shared seven research mistakes that he has made with “wonderful” examples. The last mistake was research bias: he discovered, and had to tell his mother that her father was not her biological father. Chris then proceeded to identify his grandfather using DNA. As he said, “Overnight one-fourth of my family tree was lopped off.” I had never heard Chris speak before.

Group 4: to listen to a speaker about whom I know nothing

  • “Trolling the Virtual Cemeteries and Using Cemetery Records,” by Amie Tennant
    I wouldn’t have normally stopped in to hear about FindAGrave, and BillionGraves, but I had never heard Amie speak. She and Sonny Morton (“Urban Research”, above) have similar presentation styles—very personable and approachable, peppy and bouncy.
  • “Introduction to Tracing your Roots in Eastern Europe” by Amie Wachs (This also could have been in Group 2, as one line of my husband’s family (Frisch) comes from the Czech Republic, just south of Prague.) Again this is a topic I know very little about and a speaker I only knew by reputation. Amie is a solid presenter who moves through her slide transitions easily.

I love conferences! They provide the opportunity to teach, and the opportunity to learn. And, an opportunity to expand my Genea-buddies around the entire US. I certainly did all of these this past week! So, “hat’s off” to the many volunteers and the speakers involved in the conference. It takes many to put on a large regional conference like this. They all were friendly and helpful. And, thanks for inviting me.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last blog: I hadn’t realized it had been so long since the last blog posting. I certainly hope in the coming months I can improve my frequency. I like to post about once a week. Since the last blog…or thereabouts, I have been working on presentations for Federation of Genealogical Societies—two new ones, and applying for conferences in 2018, including Jamboree, Florida Virtual and National Genealogical Society. The latter will be held in Grand Rapids and I have cousins and an archive that I want to see there (my fingers are crossed on that one!). This month the OGS proposals are due for the next conference in 2018 and I will submit for that as well. May is slow–may make a trip to CO to write!

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Step-by-Step: My Intractable Problem

nose in bookA dose of my own medicine! On 12 February I blogged about steps to solve problems using a research plan. But, I think an example is so much better to illustrate the value of compiling our work, especially when we are trying to solve our intractable genealogical problems. This post outlines, step-by-step, how I built a research plan using the methodology outlined in the blog post “Strategic Thinking: A Research Plan.”

I admit I have done much research on my Friedrich Eilers (FE), some of it targeted and some of it “grazing.” This is my attempt to formalize the output, focus on the process and give my some research discipline.

As we know the Genealogical Proof Standard exhorts us to do reasonably exhaustive “REsearch,” not exhaustive “search.” The implication is, of course, that “researching” is far more disciplined and expects the genealogist to select the record sets that are most likely to provide the needed information.

I am seeking to identify Friedrich Eilers, who was the groom in the second marriage to my great-grandmother Eda/Ida (van Hoorn) Berg in October of 1861 and who after November 1862 was never referred to again in any known document in connection with my family.

I have taken the steps from the previous post and sequentially attached the report as I built it-step-by-step.  To make it easier for you to see what I added, I have changed the type face to red for the items that apply to that particular step of this methodology and which have been added after the previous document. Let’s see how it works.

Phase 1: Recording all you know.

1. Start fresh. Act (and think) like you have never seen this problem before.
comment: I took a yoga class and focused on “dispassionate observation.” It works for me.
document: be-rp-1

2. Clearly state your research question and write it down. Make your individual of interest unique in the world using the “known facts of the case.” Write your question at the top of a blank document. Make it 14 pt. font and bold.
comment: I make research questions very specific in the description of the individual. Keep in mind that identity comes before relationships. If I want to know the parents of X, I first have to clarify the identity of X. Therefore, I usually start with “Identify X who did so-and-so and such-and-such.” I don’t think I make great research questions, so you are on your own here.
document: be-rp-2

3. Gather together every shred of evidence that you already have that relates to the individual or his/her relatives, business associates etc.
comment: I don’t have much, but I was surprised at how many documents I needed to get the timeline filled with the pertinent sources.
documents: I did this concurrently with no. 4 below.

4. Document by document, write what you know, based on what you have. Start with the citation and then summarize what is contained within the source. Transcribe and abstract any documents with handwriting. If your document is a census, record the neighbors of at least 10 families in each direction. Label this section “Background.”
comment: I have followed Ida for years, but I looked at everything again. Notice that there is a gap between 1864 and 1871 where I have nothing.
document: be-rp-4

5. Note whether the “thing you are holding in your hand,” the source, is an original, derivative or authored work; whether the information is primary, secondary, or indeterminable; and whether the evidence is direct, indirect or negative in response to your research question. Don’t stop with just categorizing your documents. Instead, analyze the quality of your sources.  If there is a need and ability to obtain a better record, i.e. closer to the event, enter it on your Research Plan.
comment: This implies that you have a Research Plan set up already on your document. If you haven’t done so, type a heading of “Research Plan” at the bottom of your document. Record your sources you need to obtain to improve the quality of the ones you have.
document: be-rp-5

6. As you are doing no. 5 above, identify all FAN Club members and place in a table with the date of interaction and the role your ancestor played in that interaction. Label this “FAN Club.” keep the interactions in chronological order–you are building a timeline.
comment:  My FAN Club consists of people who have interacted with Ida but not with Friedrich. I have no known FAN Club members for FE, but that’s what we are trying to solve. Should I find any, that will be a huge clue.
document: be-rp-6

7. Add known dates of importance of your individual of interest to your timeline. Depending on your problem, there may be [timelines of] other key individuals (in a separate column) you wish to add to your timeline [of your person of interest].
comment:  FE gets added with the hope I can fill out more information about FE candidates as I begin to research. I didn’t make red the whole table, but you get the idea.
document: be-rp-7

8. If appropriate, take your timeline and expand it to a table, which includes all people you think might be relevant to your investigation–family, candidates for identity (for example, all your possible John Smiths), business partners, and other members of the FAN Club you developed in item 7 above. Add their events to their timeline as well.
comment: For now, without doing the actual research, I anticipate that I will have multiple candidates for FE. A German name in a German area cannot be unique.
document: be-rp-8

Phase 2: Research researching

9.  Identify the sources that are most likely to yield salient information based on what you know. Add the list to your document and label this ”Research Plan.” Each resource should include a draft of the citation. Put the citation in bold.
comment: I already had five sources I needed to obtain by the time I finished with the known information, so I reprioritzed and added to the list of five. Certainly some of these could fall off the list as I gain more information. A basic principle of research is that you start in the US, yet my biggest clue is the birthplace in Germany, Ober Gleen. That’s a bit of a conundrum.
document: be-rp-9

10. Review Part 2 of Val Greenwood’s book for a list of types of sources.  Place “likely suspects” on your research plan.
comment: I know Stephenson County pretty well and some documents just do not exist, e.g. newspapers before 1890. Greenwood lists the following: newspapers, vital records, censuses, probate records, wills, guardianships, land (local and federal), other court records, church records, military and cemetery and burial records. I believe that I have either addressed by placing on my research plan or exhausted all these more typical records. I have added a narrative at the bottom of the document for the searches in each record type so I have an explanation of why I am not pursuing those sources.  It would be better if I had these as citations. In the future, I need to move some of my past research log information over to fill this out.
document: be-rp-10

11. Read the FamilySearch wiki for your particular locality for additional resources. [2]
comment: The FS wiki is a go-to place for me for locality research. Research every jurisdictional level: country, state, county, court. If you do a lot of research in one area, consider writing a locality guide so you don’t lose all this fabulous work you are doing. consider also Cyndi’s List and Linkpendium.
document: be-rp-11

12. Conduct a locality or topical search in Family Search and Ancestry catalog (this is different than the wiki mentioned  in 11.) Click through every entry in the catalog to identify film you ought to order or if the film has been indexed or uploaded and not indexed.
comment: I have looked at the Ober Gleen Family Search catalog before, but now I see that FS has added an index! This is a very “bright shiny object” for me and I must, for now, let it go. I need to complete these other tasks before I get to points 14 and 15. Your Research Plan might be getting quite long right now.
document: be-rp-12

13. Review the National Genealogical Society (NGS) States series to determine if your state is included. These wonderful books are an overview of resources and repositories that are state specific and which include archives and repositories you may not have thought of. Record any likely repositories.
comment: Illinois has a terrific state series book but I wonder if I am over looking the surrounding states?  Stephenson County is on the border of Wisconsin; could FE have lived in WI and been visiting or doing business in Freeport for some other reason? I think I need to widen my area of focus–but that will be for another day.
document: be-rp-13

Phase 3: Researching
To this point, we have just been building (adding to) our research plan, now we start looking at some of the resources we identified.

14. Based on your research plan, conduct the research of your top priority source. If you think of a new resource to check, just add it to your research plan in priority order. Always write out a skeleton citation.
comment: The bright shiny object calls!! 
confession:  There are two approaches: I could look in census records in the US or look in the Ober Gleen birth records. The census records are hard because there is so little information–I don’t even have a birth year for Friedrich.  Assuming there are multiple FEs in Ober Gleen, I am going to work the Ober Gleen records first and fill out the table that is in landscape mode. 

15. Do your on site research. If you cannot travel, then enlist a friend or hire a genealogist in the area. Revisit your research plan and add new sources (as citations) as they are identified.
comment: And just like they show on television– I hopped on a plane and flew to Salt Lake City to meet with the German expert.  I (driving a big black SUV) found a parking place right in front of the library! No one was in the library except for THE expert on Ober Gleen records (probably Fritz Juengling!).  He already had found what i was looking for, translated it and gave me a very nice Family Group Sheet and pedigree chart scribed in lovely calligraphy–NOT! 🙂
document: be-rp-15

Findings at this point, are the following:

There is only one Friedrich Euler/Eiler who appeared in this time frame in Ober Gleen. He is my top candidate. The rest of the Fred/Fritz/etc. Eilers/Eilerts etc. just do not have the Ober Gleen connection that is so necessary for this resolution.

  1. It is not known where Friedrich Euler was born. he does not appear in the Ober Gleen birth records; however, from the point of the birth of his first child in 1842 to his emigration in 1860, Ober Gleen appeared to be his residence.
  2. Friedrich Euler and  Gertraud Schoenhals had six children, five of which were born before they married.
  3. Friedrich Euler and Gertraud Schoenhals finally married in 1855
  4. Friedrich immigrated in 1860 to Illinois. It is not known why he picked Illinois as no FAN Club member has yet been identified as living in Illinois and he appeared to travel alone.
  5. Friedrich married Eda Berg in 1861 in Stephenson County, Illinois.
  6. Gertraud and the children emigrated in August/September of 1862.
  7. Eda used the Eyler surname in November of 1862 and then never used it again.
  8. In 1872, son John (Johannes, b. 1848) married Rosina Hoffman in Stephenson County, firmly placing at least one family member in the county.
  9. There is no divorce noted in Stephenson County for FE and IB.

16. Order those FHL films you identified in your catalog review or better yet, take a trip to Salt Lake City and do your research there in the company of research experts who can help.
comment: I am going to quit now. I have other things to do, but I have made real progress on this “intractable problem.” There are many things yet to research before any conclusions can be drawn, but I have built a great summary document to build upon in the future.

17. Re-conduct old research. We are smarter now then we were five years ago.
comment: When I was a baby genealogist I was told to “really study your sources so you got all the information from them.” What people didn’t tell me is that it didn’t matter how good I thought I was THEN, I am better now and you probably do have to re-review your sources, especially those related to your tough problems.

18. Check the family trees in Family Search and Ancestry. Yes, I know they are rift with errors and are usually undocumented, but they can offer clues and should be used.
comment: In looking at the trees, no one identified that Friedrich and Gertraud emigrated.  They recognize that Johannes and Heinrich did, but no one connects the passenger lists of the family or Friedrich. So the trees, for this study did not provide any clues i could build on.  

19. Record ALL searches, including those that yield nothing. Constantly update your research plan. Record all your findings including your negative searches. Label these Negative Findings.
comment: This is the part that can really help you, should you have to put the research down to do other things–like laundry.  I am not satisfied with how the research paper ends…it is rather messy and needs some work to gather the information together in a more coherent form. But, that, too, is for another day.

20. Repeat.

What you have now, even if you did not solve your problem is a document which:

  1. Documents your  known information
  2. Identifies gaps in your existing sources
  3. Sets you up for the analysis of your documents
  4. Serves as a summary of your work to date and even if you set it down, you will have this terrific record of your findings for later
  5. Records where you searched and found nothing so you won’t redo that work, unless you decide to re-energize no. 17, and
  6. Outlines your next steps

Whew! If you got to the end of this blog–congratulations!  You get the gold star.

Happy hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last post: worked on this blog! I also conducted the second session of the online Certification Discussion Group; worked on a client report, and worked in “fits and starts” on my DNA problem.

[1] A gentleman in a presentation I gave on determining identity asked “He’s a second husband with no children, why do you even care?” My response was, “Friedrich Eilers is an itch I cannot scratch.”

[2] FamilySearch wiki: http://familysearch.org/wiki.

 

I wasn’t expecting this!

fireworksI received notification in January that Board for Certification of Genealogists(R)  conferred the credential of Certified Genealogist(R) based on the submission of my work which was found to be to standards.[1] I shared my good news with many of my genealogy friends at SLIG and with the readers of this blog.  Very exciting. Very cool.

I came home and proceeded to work diligently on projects that had piled up while I was working on my portfolio.  Good.

About a week ago, I realized my thinking had changed. Two thoughts were now pounding in my head:

  1. I am only an incremently  better a genealogist today WITH the credential, than I was the day before I received my notification.
  2. I  now feel the responsibility to live up to the expectations of the judges of BCG and of other credential genealogists.

The first thought demands that I continue to educate myself and keep current with standards and knowledge in our field, which is rapidly changing. The second directs me to strive to improve my work product and my relationships with client, colleagues and others, so I am worthy of the trust placed in me by BCG and the judges in the conferring of the CG credential.

These two concepts hit me the other day, so…

I pledge, to myself, that I will strive to “Search | Learn | Teach,”
to the very highest of standards that I can attain. [2]

NOW, I “get it.”

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last post: worked on a couple client reports, kept up with my bullet journaling, worked with my DNA kits and watched the videos about Genome Match Pro (next goal–download GMP onto my Mac); I also moved all my data over to FTDNA when they opened up their new sharing feature. Attended a presentation by Janice Lovelace about “Finding your Slaveholder” and listened to Karen Stanbary give a great talk on incorporating DNA into your proof arguments, a BCG webinar.

[1] Certified Genealogist is a registered trademark and the designation CG is a service mark of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by Board certificants who meet competency standards.

[2] “Search | Learn | Teach” is my business motto which embodies the principles of sound research, continuing education and sharing knowledge with others.

Yikes! The Role of Physics in the Determination of Identity

johannes_diderik_van_der_waalsI flunked Physics in college.  Yup…a flying F. So, why am I talking about Physics and identity–of the genealogical kind, you may ask? Because the basic principles of Physics are germane to our establishing the identity of an individual. I actually used all three of these principles in my portfolio’s case study! And, the identity of the person on the left? Johannes D. van der Waals (edited).[1]

Here are some of the basic principles of physics and how they apply to identity. (Now, don’t glaze over here; stick with me on this….)

  • Principle of Physics: one object cannot be in two places at the same time. However, Einstein believed and scientists have now proven Einstein correct that this principle is false at the sub-molecular level.[2] At the “Law of Intuition” level (I made that up) this appears to still be true for those of us above the sub-molecular level.
  • Pauli Exclusion Principle [3]: Two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Actually, it has been proven multiple atoms can occupy the same space at the same time.[4] For people, composed of billions and billons (etc.) of atoms, scientists haven’t figured that out yet.
  • Principle of Physics and Chemistry (Johannes D. van der Waals): “The condensed phases of matter depend for their properties on the content proximity of all their constituent atoms.”[5] Non-scientific translation: There is a strong desire for objects to cluster together.

Let’s take them one by one.

  1. Principle No. 1:
    If you think “your” Lars Larson resided in the United States in 1882, but you find “your” Lars Larson in Sweden immigrating in 1895 for the first time–there is some explaining to do. Lars cannot be in both the United States and Sweden at the same time.  An example closer to home for me…Friedrich Eilers was naturalized in Chicago in 1856; Yet, it appears that MY Friedrich was raising a family and didn’t immigrate until 1861. Result?  The first Friedrich is NOT MY GUY. It comes down to…just because the name is the same doesn’t mean its your guy.They both cannot be your ancestor.
  2. Principle NO. 2:
    If there are two John Smiths—one the younger and one the older–they will have different timelines and events that happen in their lives, even if they live in the same place. Your job as a genealogist is to tweaze out the differences in their timelines  and make them each unique in the world.
    Example: Bengt #1 lived in Sweden in 1785-1795 as a day laborer on a farm and was enumerated on the tax rolls as “Bengt.” Another “Bengt,” surname unknown lived on the other side of the parish. Which fragment of Bengt’s life belonged to my ancestor? They lived totally separate lives until 1791 when Bengt no. 1 paid taxes on the west side of town and Bengt no.2 paid taxes on the east side of town. And, one thing we know is that no one, at no time, pays tax twice for no good reason. Different life experiences differentiated the two men of the same given name and approximate same age.
  3. Principle no. 3.
    There is a strong desire, especially pre-social security era, for family members to rely on other family members as “insurance.” Family members are the ones that help when the barn burns down. Family members are the ones who migrate together to a frontier fringe. Family members are the ones who support each other when a spouse dies. What does this sound like– The FAN Club. So, according to physics, your group will stay together even if pressure is placed on one to move. Case in point: Antje, age 21, living in Germany, apparently was made an offer of marriage by a recent immigrant to the US. She accepted. The famiy discussion must have been interesting, because the entire family decided to emigrate. The father at 54 was the oldest traveler on the ship. This FAN Club stuck together.

So, that wasn’t so bad now was it!

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last post: Prepare for my beginners class at Washington Athletic Club, work on my syllabi for the Olympia GS (I thought I had them done–I didn’t.); shifted the date of my presentation to the Sons of Norway/Bothel due to a scheduling conflict; attended an APG online discussion on presenting to groups. I also participated in two trial runs and a tech test with the certification discussion group members on Google Hangouts and worked up the website for the same group. This will be my first 100% online class where I am the leader. I am very excited.

[1] Johannes Diderick van der Waals, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Diderik_van_der_Waals : accessed 14 February 2017). In the public domain.

[2] Steve Connor, Independent, blog, “Einstein was Right, You Can be in Two Places at Once.” ( http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/einstein-was-right-you-can-be-in-two-places-at-once-2162648.html : accessed 14 February 2017).

[3] Wikipedia, “Pauli’s Exclusion Principle,” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauli_exclusion_principle : accessed 14 February 2017).

[4] Physics.org, “Atoms can be in the Same Place at the Same Time,” (https://phys.org/news/2015-01-atoms.html : accessed 14 February 2017).

[5] Stephen Barry, Encyclopedia Britannica, (https://www.britannica.com/science/cluster : accessed 14 February 2017).

Strategic Thinking: A Research Plan

nose in bookI declare there are no “brick walls.”

WHAT! you say. I instead contend that there are problems that we haven’t tackled yet or problems that we have tackled by “grazing” in the data. Oh, sure, eventually everyone runs into no records, but—we have genealogical dead ends because of a lack of strategic planning!

Our strategic answer? It’s called the development of a research plan.

So, I ask you to think of one of your intractable problems.  Got it? OK, let’s get started and see what kind of progress you can make on it. (All links are in the footnotes.)

We are going to develop a strategic research plan for your particular problem. I would suggest that one could do this with your easiest problem, but it might be better to start with one that you think is solvable, but you haven’t yet found the answer.

There are three phases to a research plan.

Phase 1: Recording all you know.

1. Start fresh. Act like you have never seen this problem before.[1]
comment: We cannot all go on vacation, like the resource listed but we can clear our mind of preconceptions about the problem we wish to tackle. Meditate if you have to.

2. Clearly state your research question and write it down. Make your individual of interest unique in the world using the “known facts of the case.” Write your question at the top of a blank document. Make it 14 pt. font and bold. [2]
comment: This is often harder to do than initially perceived. You are not writing this question for you, but for a casual reader who picks up the document tomorrow. Be obsessively specific about your ancestor of interest.

3. Gather together every shred of evidence that you already have that relates to the individual or his/her relatives, business associates etc.[3]
comment: This is not reviewing what you have in your genealogy database, but rather to pull out the actual document and look at it. You are looking for hidden clues or clues you missed, because you hyper-focused on that single bit of evidence and missed others. (That filing system and compulsive citing your sources pays off today!)

4. Document by document, write what you know, based on what you have. Start with the citation and then summarize what is contained within the source. Transcribe and abstract any documents with handwriting. If your document is a census, record the neighbors of at least 10 families in each direction. Label this section “Background.” [4]
comment: It is almost guaranteed you will see new information that you had not seen before, for example–are the children going to school? Perhaps there are school records. You may (or even should) transcribe printed documents as well. Remember this is your intractable problem and we cannot get to an answer without some work.

5. Note whether the “thing you are holding in your hand,” the source, is an original, derivative or authored work; whether the information is primary, secondary, or indeterminable; and whether the evidence is direct, indirect or negative in response to your research question. Don’t stop with just categorizing your documents. Instead, analyze your response. Record your catagories and if there is better record put it on your research plan. [5]
comment: For example, if you have a derivative work, is there an original? If so, where? Even if an original, is there a document that would be closer to the event?The analysis is the key piece here.

6. As you are doing no. 5 above, identify all FAN Club members and place in a table with the date of interaction and the role your ancestor played in that interaction. Label this “FAN Club.” keep the interactions in chronological order–you are building a timeline.[6]
comment: What you are looking for is patterns–patterns of interactions with others. Who keeps showing up? Do not be too narrow in your range of years you are looking at….you might be looking at 2 or even 3 generations of interactions.

7. Add known dates of importance of your individual of interest to your timeline. Depending on your problem, there may be other key individuals (in a separate column) you wish to add to your timeline. [7]
comment: Developing a timeline is particularly important when you have too many individuals with the same name–each candidate will get his/her own timeline. At this stage your timeline will be incomplete, but it includes what you know.

8. If appropriate, take your timeline and expand it to a table, which includes all people you think might be relevant to your investigation–family, candidates for identity (for example, all your possible John Smiths), business partners, and other members of the FAN Club you developed in item 7 above.  Add their events to their timeline as well. [8]
comment: The principles of physics apply here. See my next post!

Phase 2: Research researching

9. Because of your hard work in items 1-8, you should now have identified some localities or resources to investigate that you hadn’t thought of before or places you need to re-look. Develop a five-item research plan of the sources that are most likely to yield salient information based on what you know. Add the list of five items to your document and label this ”Research Plan.” Each resource should include a draft of the citation. Put the citation in bold. [9]
comment: Get the rest of that probate packet, find that regimental history or “mug book,” conduct a line by line search of a census…..just 5.  Your research plan may even include re-looking at some databases etc. which did not yield fruit the last time. This research plan is dynamic–once you start researching, you will add other resources to investigate.

10. Review Part 2 of Val Greenwood’s book for a list of types of sources. Review each source type to determine if researching that type of source might be likely to provide additional information for your particular research question.  Place “likely suspects” on your research plan.[10]
comment:  You may have to research the resources, e.g. determine what the names of the newspapers in that area at that era, before you can build the citation.

11. Read the FamilySearch wiki for your particular locality for additional resources. [11]
comment: The FS wiki is a go-to place for me for locality research. Research every jurisdictional area: country, state, county, court. If you do a lot of research in one area, consider writing a locality guide so you don’t lose all this fabulous work you are doing. consider also Cyndi’s List and Linkpendium.

12. Conduct a locality or topical search in Family Search and Ancestry catalog. Click through every entry in the catalog to identify film you ought to order or if the film has been indexed or uploaded and not indexed.  Add each film to your research plan as a citation. Your research plan should be longer than five items by now.[12]
comment: 70% of the Family Search resources are not accessible by conducting a surname search, but instead have been digitized, but not indexed by surname.

13. Review the National Genealogical Society (NGS) States series to determine if your state is included. These wonderful books are an overview of  resources and repositories that are state specific and which include archives and repositories you may not have thought of.[13]
comment: Another place to look for resources is the WPA inventory books (check Google or FHL). In the 1930s often WPA workers were asked to inventory county records, identity the documents held, where held and the years of coverage, for example, Civil War registrations, voter lists etc. Perhaps some of these records still exist.

Phase 3: Researching

14. Based on your research plan, conduct the research of your top priority source.  If you think of a new resource to check, just add it to your research plan in priority order. Always write out a skeleton citation.[14]
comment: Do not be afraid to remove a resource from your list. Your initial research may lead you down a different road than you had initially thought, rendering your initial thoughts less imperative. I form a “GARAGE” at the end of my document where I “park” resources I deem unlikely. I put them in red and save them. I may never look at it again, but I have been known to resurrect content from the “GARAGE” before.

15. Do your on site research. If you cannot travel, then enlist a friend or hire a genealogist in the area. Revisit your research plan and add new sources (as citations) as they are identified.[15]
comment: I have hired a researcher in a specific locale to find documents for me that I cannot access myself easily or cheaply.

16. Order those FHL films you identified in your catalog review or better yet, take a trip to Salt Lake City and do your research there in the company of research experts who can help.[16]
comment: You have to be registered to utilize the film loan program, but it is free. Film rental is minimal. Did you know you can call the FHL and get a telephone consult as well?

17. Re-conduct old research. We are smarter now then we were five years ago.[17]
comment: I visit a particular county courthouse every five years. Every time I ask for the same thing—the records on my Bode family—every time, I get something new.

18. Record ALL searches, including those that yield noting. Constantly update your research plan. Record all your findings including your negative searches. Label these Negative Findings.[18]
comment: At this point, beware of the “bright shiny object.” the goal is to practice “mindful genealogy.”

19. Repeat.

There are many standard locations in which to look that I have not covered here, including State Archives, local archives, genealogical society collections, newspapers, cemeteries, to name a few. You are responsible for knowing your area and your problem well enough that you know what will yield fruit for you and what might not–but remember we can find the most amazing evidence in the most obscure locations.

There is no guarantee that you will get to an answer to your research question by doing the above, but I can guarantee you will be further along than you were before and you wil have a terrific document outlining your search!

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last post: Finished a client report, worked on several syllabi that I thought were done–I was wrong. Since I am now Seattle GS president, I am dealing with society issues and generation of the Board agenda. This month we conducted a Society Summit planning meeting to see if there was any interest in getting the GS of the Puget Sound area together–there was and so we will be putting that together in the Spring.  I am getting prepped for my Google Hangout with 14 eager individuals who desire more information about certification by the Board for Certification of Genealogists(R). I have never done this before; I am waaaaaay outside my comfort zone.

Resources

[1] David Rock, blog post, “Back from Vacation? Don’t Waste a Precious Clear Mind,” Psychology Today, 6 September 2009, (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-brain-work/200909/back-vacation-dont-waste-precious-clear-mind : accessed 12 February 2017) .

[2] Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia : National Genealogical Society, 2013), 7-8.

[3] Elizabeth Shown Mills, blog post, “Quick Lesson 11: Identity Issues & the FAN Club,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage (https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-11-identity-problems-fan-principle : accessed 12 February 2017).

[4] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Professional Genealogist: A Manual for REsearchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians, “Transcripts & Abstracts” by Mary McCampbell Bell (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc, 2001) 291-396.

[5] Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof, 8-16.

[6] Mills, “Quick Lesson 11.”

[7] Jill Morelli, blog post, “Timelines for Analysis & Correlation,” Genealogy Certification: A Personal Journey (https://genealogycertification.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/timelines-ana-corr : accessed 12 February 2017)

[8] Ibid.

[9] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyber Space (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, Co., Inc., 2014). This source gives you some templates for proper source citations, but do not be afraid to compose your own. Just make sure you have all the information needed for the casual reader to be able to evaluate the quality of your source.

[10] Val D. Greenwood, The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, Co., Inc., 1990), part 2.

[11] Family Search, wiki (https://familysearch.org/wiki : accessed 12 February 2017). You also can do topical searches and even find out about entry hours for the Family History Library and the webinar classes they are conducting that month at this site. Cyndi’s List (http://www.cyndislist.com/ : accessed 12 February 2017) and Linkpendium (http://www.linkpendium.com/ : accessed 12 February 2017).

[12] Family Search, catalog (https://familysearch.org/catalog/search : accessed 12 February 2017). Ancestry, waypoints: Ancestry > Search > Card Catalog. Sometimes the Ancestry catalog is located in the sidebar at the bottom. You can also use the map for access to the items related to a locality search.

[13] National Genealogical Society, “Research in the States Series” (http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/research_in_the_states : accessed 12 February 2017). As of this access date 24 states had been covered. TIP: if you don’t see your state published, go to the NGSQ and search on your state. Iowa, for example does not have a booklet as part of the “Research in the States” series but does have a comprehensive article in the Q: George E. McCracken, “Genealogical Resources in Iowa Archives,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 41 (September 1953): 67-69.

[14] Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof, Chapter 3 “GPS Element 1: Thorough Research.”

[15] Association of Professional Genealogists (https://www.apgen.org/ : accessed 12 February 2017). You can do a name, location, research specialty or geolocation search to find a genealogist who subscribes to the standards o the APG.

[16] Family Search, wiki, “Ordering Microfilm or Microfiche,” (https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Ordering_Microfilm_or_Microfiche : accessed 12 February 2017).

[17] Federation of Genealogical Societies, website, (http://www.fgs.org/cstm_societyHall.php : accessed 12 February 2017). If there is a society in your area, check out their website for classes; some run free webinars. today, more than every before, there is no excuse for not taking a class a week and learning something new.  Google: Illinois State Genealogical Society, Southern California GS, Wisconsin State GS and Legacy Software webinars for online educational opportunities–free!  no excuse.

[18] Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof, 15.

SLIG 2017: Family History Law Library

2017-fh-law-library-shelley-long-photographerThis past week I was delighted to attend the Salt Lake Institute for Genealogy (SLIG) at Salt Lake City, Utah and I want to tell you a bit about it. An institute for genealogy is usually five days of intensive study and lectures on a single topic related to genealogy.  This year there were 14 tracks and you had to pick one– a difficult task. I selected “Family History Law Library” taught by Judy Russell (left) and Rick Sayer (right; I’m behind Rick.) in the photo at left.[1] Other speakers included Claire Bettag (Civil Law), David Rencher of Family Search (Irish Law) and Warren Bittner (German Law).

I always come out of these institutes with a larger number of genealogy buddies, new information on the topic and a renewed enthusiasm for genealogy, which I did not have before. This session was no different.

Working in the law has always intimidated me and so I hoped to come away with some basic knowledge of how to  think about my immediate problem and how to then access the law.

A concept that clarified much of my thinking were the four questions to ask yourself when you have identified that your problem might be answered in the law:

  1. What is the type of court where this problem might be resolved?: local, state, Federal, or special?
  2. Could the topic be covered in a chartering document, like a constitution? If so then you need to look at the constitution or similar document of that state or country.
  3. Is it Statutory law? And, if so, is it territorial, colonial or state?
  4. Is it common law and covered through precedent?

Once you have answered the above questions then you have a road map to finding the answer to your question in the law.

There are a number of good websites for finding Federal level law:

  1. Google Books: many of the older Federal and state laws are in scanned books: https://books.google.com/
  2. Century of Law Making for a New Nation (up to 1878): https://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lawhome.html
  3. HienOnline ($$; contains more current Federal law): http://home.heinonline.org/
  4. Constitution Society (for chartering documents): http://www.constitution.org/

The state laws can best be found by googling name of the state, “law” and then any additional identifiers–“territorial” or “colonial” law, and type of problem, e.g. mental health, immigration, or voting age, for example. These documents are often found on a governmental website for the state of interest.

Happy hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last posting: Attended SLIG, started “bullet journaling” based on an Association of Professional Genealogist Quarterly article (it has greatly improved my efficiency.) Have alerted several groups etc. that I have received the credential of Certified Genealogist; interviewed 3 new clients; continue to work on transcriptions of findings from my summer sabbatical, cleaned up some webinars and conducted two (Illinois and Southern California with Wisconsin at the end of March.) Did some research on my elusive Eilerts and withdrew my proposals from APG-Professional Management Conference to be held in September in DC. I am still waiting to hear from BYU, and I did a bunch of other stuff related to being SGS President.  Whew! busy month.

[1] Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) 2017, Class 9, The Family History Law Library, photograph, January 2017, digital image, Shelley Lewis, photographer, used with permission; SLIG 2017 (https://www.facebook.com/groups/SLIG2016/ : accessed 2 February 2017, 8:10 am).

 

 

 

 

Announcement!

clock-6I am happy to announce that today I received notice from the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) that my portfolio which was submitted in mid-October has been deemed worthy of conferring onto me the title of Certified Genealogist. I am still a bit giddy.  I also realize that I will probably forget to do some critical thing in the “fog” of jubilation. As I am leaving on Sunday for Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), I am vulnerable to forget to pack all I need for their cold weather.  Yikes!

I will not stop this blog because I have reached this goal.  Like all goals, you need to develop the next before you have attained the last.  And, that is certainly true for me.  I will discuss goal assessment in the near future.

I thank all the readers for supporting this blog and my efforts to become certified.  With certification comes not only the pride of attaining a difficult goal, but also the responsibility to model to others the good work of a certified genealogist.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last blog post: I started bullet journaling because I found myself wasting a lot time and I needed a tool to keep me focused. Except for today– it’s done a good job. I listened to three webinars; attended an APG online discussion, developed my research plans for my trip to Salt Lake City and had lunch with a friend I had lost track of.  It’s been, for me, a good day.