NGS: The FAN Club

2014 ESMI attended a number of Elizabeth Shown Mills‘s presentations this past week at the NGS 2016 annual conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (see photo at left). [1]  ESM rarely works with direct evidence and is usually in the extreme ends of the lineage trying to solve her research question. Her presentation on identifying John Watts, “Reasonably Exhaustive Research: The First Criteria for Genealogical Proof,” soon to be a NSGQ article, is a study in extremely complex FAN Club research. [2]

What is a FAN Club? Friends, Associates and Neighbors comprise any person’s FAN Club. These are the individuals who surround us and who we interact with regularly. We call upon them to assist us in our dealings that generate documents that survive to today. More importantly, we find our FAN Club being kin, especially before the 21st century.

For example, when it is time to fill out the request for the Civil War pension and you need to have some attestations of your service and good character. Who are you going to ask to give character witness? –your comrade in arms from your unit. Your unit was comprised of individuals from your state and often included kin.

Or, you are a member of a church. Who is on the church rolls with you?—other church members, many of whom may be family members

It is time for you to emigrate. Do you just pick up and go?–no, you probably entice others from your small town to emigrate as well and all appear on the passenger manifest together. Do you shoot darts at a map to determine where you are going to settle?—again, no. You instead pick an area you have heard about, because others from your parish have migrated before you to that place.

These are just 3 examples of different FAN Clubs. As you can see one person can have many FAN Clubs at the same time and individuals may “occupy” overlapping groups. In very difficult problems, such as the identification of John Watts, not only did the FAN club include multiple types of clusters, but it grew in numbers of individuals as more evidence was found. A FAN Club is never static. It will increase in size as new information is obtained and new names are added. It will shrink as individuals are identified who do not answer the research question.

The reason why someone would drop from the list is if they defied Newton’s Laws of Physics:

Principle 1: and object (individual) cannot be in two places at the same time.

James Smith #1 farms on Smith Creek and James Smith #2 farms on James Creek in 1850–at the same time. These are two different James Smiths. Understanding the distances one could travel in the time frame of investigation is necessary to eliminating individuals from a FAN Club.

Principle 2: one object (individual) cannot occupy the same time twice as someone else. James Smith #1 resides on land from 1812 to 1850. James Smith #2 resides on land from 1830 to 1860. These are probably two different James Smiths because their timelines are not in alignment.

These are extremely simplistic examples and are only used to illustrate a point of identity of same named individuals; not to illustrate reasonably exhaustive research, which would be necessary to actually eliminate John Smith #2 in each instance.

Same named individuals can only be separated by using reasonably exhaustive research and having alignment of geography, time AND the FAN Club.

I would also suggest that you probably use it more frequently than you think. Your FAN Club size may be small and you can quickly eliminate all but one. This type of research is particularly critical for Irish and Scandinavian ethnic groups whose naming practices result in many individuals having the same name.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last posting: attended the NGS 2016 conference, blogged about the conference, presented twice and became inspired as I read the submissions of others for certification at the BCG booth. Next up? Whidbey Island GS and Jamboree! Next blog (probably)—coincidence and decision-making.

[1] Photo of Elizabeth Shown Mills & Jill Morelli, taken at the request of Jill Morelli by an attendee, May 2014.  Photo taken NGS 2014 conference in Richmond, VA.

[2] FAN Club is a group composed of friends, associates and/or neighbors devised by Elisabeth Shown Mills, also called “cluster research.” The use of FAN Club principles are used repeatedly in solving genealogical problems.

 

NGS 2016: Preparation

Well, I am home from my 7 week driving sabbatical and cleaning up many of the items I had still on my “post it” wall I didn’t get to while I was in Tucson. I am now looking forward to the National Genealogical Society (NGS) 2016 conference to be held in Ft. Lauderdale, FL from 4 May to 7 May–just 4 weeks away!  Yikes!

Ah, Florida. The Morelli’s lived in Florida, actually in Lighthouse Point in northern Broward county, contiguous to Dade County where Ft. Lauderdale is located, in the early 1990s. While this Midwestern girl could never figure out when to plant impatiens, my hubby relished the idea of hanging the Christmas lights in shorts and flip flops!  A definite advantage. I worked for Dade County Public Schools and my husband worked for Owens Corning which had a plant located in the Port of Fort Lauderdale–yes, you guessed it–with a little luck our room will overlook “his plant”!

There is no question, I am looking forward to seeing the remaining of his co-workers who still work there, even tho’ it has been over 20 years.

Slide1 My “preparation” for the conference includes working on my two presentations– “On Death and Dying: a Brief Look at the Changes in Medicine in the 19 Century” and “The ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’: Decision-Making of the 19th Century Emigrant.” The former concerns the education and growth of professionalism of medical care staff and institutions and the changing attitudes towards death and the wounded in three eras during the 1800s.  This presentation was last given several years ago to an Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) group. While I was surprised that NGS picked it, I was also pleased, as this presentation is one of a series I have developed which look at how the Civil War changed so much of what we now take for granted.  I ask you to think back 25 years to BC (before computers) and how much your life has changed; the Civil War, as horrific as it was, changed our society as much and maybe more.

Slide1‘Push/Pull’ is a very popular presentation which I have given locally multiple times and most recently for the Southern California Genealogy Society webinar in early January. The presentation asks the question of why did our ancestor emigrate? While most do not have an ancestor who wrote down the answer to the question, there are way to “tweeze” the information from letters and contextual study.

I want these presentations to be as good as they can be and to reflect the quality of work that I do.  It is an honor to present at NGS and I have never been asked before.  I want to make sure 2016 won’t be the last time!

Hope to see you in Ft. Lauderdale.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last posting:  submitted 8 proposals for NGS 2017 and 10 for the Federation of Genealogy Society’s (FGS) 2017 conferences.  I will also think about submitted to Ohio GS but I have been rejected twice. It looks like BYU Family History Fair held in Provo the end of July will pick at least five and maybe six of my presentations. I will present all in 2 days–it will be a marathon.

 

 

Potpourri: 22 May 2015

Wilder PassThis is a collection of a variety of comments, observations and thoughts about genealogy. I promise not to do this too often (Left and in the spirit of miscellany: I just like the picture of Wilder Pass (CO).  It has nothing to do with the post!)

1.  I was recently named one of the top five Social Media Reps for the NGS 2015 conference!  And to think, just a few years ago Mary Tedesco gave me the twitter tutorial.  (I am still learning how to retweet and like other people’s tweets!) 🙂

2. Debbie Meiszala blogged about genealogical regrets.  I have many.  There are the usual ones—“Why didn’t I ask gramma __________?”   Or, “I should have taken that photo when I had the chance.”  Or, “I forgot to pick up that record at the courthouse.”  My prime regret, however, is that I didn’t share the information I had gathered on my mother’s family–with my mother!  Of course, I also would have liked to have shared with my Swede/Dane father that he was 6.25% Norwegian. (My aunt didn’t know.)

3. The program for the Northwest Genealogical Conference 2015 is out.  Whew!  I am not opposite Judy Russell, a very popular speaker on issues related to genealogy and the law who is making four presentations that day.   Not that the other speakers aren’t formidable–Janice Lovelace, Jean Hibben, CG, Sara Scribner, CG, etc.  I will be presenting on “House Histories! Hooray for the Tax Man”.  You are either interested in House History or not.  I am sure that however many attendees come, they will be enthusiastic.

4.I have fallen into the trap of other genealogists when I watch “Who Do You Think You Are?”  I yelled at the TV the other day “Why don’t you look for an obituary to find the siblings? You do not need to travel to _______.”  Is WDYTYA becoming my “reality TV?”

5.  At the NGS conference I went through the exhibitor area and picked up material on 3 or 4 companies.  One booth I stopped at was ArkivDigital, a pay website of photographed original Swedish records.  These records are beautiful.  There are multiple locations to obtain the Swedish records, including SVAR, FamilySearch and Ancestry but all of these records were digitized from microfilm and so they are in b&w.  ArkivDigital images are in color and they are gorgeous.  Problem:  they do not have the tax records I am looking for.

6. The other product I am seriously investigating is RootsMagic, a genealogy software product  The developer of my software which I have used since 2002 has stopped supporting the product, so I needed to get a new software that will accept the information from my old program.  I hope it works.  I am worried about losing all or part of my data.

7. I was asked to write an article for the Federation of Genealogical Societies magazine on organizing a Family History Writing Contest.  I had to beg off because in the next 6 weeks I will be attending three conferences, taking 1 vacation, assembling 1 SGS Bulletin and entertaining 3 guests for a week.  I will be pretty busy for the next seven weeks! Don’t be surprised if 1.) I post no blogs or 2.) I post more blogs than usual to get away from the mayhem!  Either option is possible.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last posting: I am starting to work on the next (and my last) SGS Bulletin, submitted my SGS monthly reports and tweaked my Jamboree presentation based on my presentation on the same topic to the Fiske Genealogical Library on Wednesday.

NGS Withdrawal; Thank You, Volunteers!

Got home late last night and have spent the day “cleaning up” the detritus of my genealogical life!  I cannot imagine what the volunteers at the conference are feeling today!  I hope the entire St. Louis GS, the host society, is celebrating a job well done! They were superb and conducted a terrific conference.

This is how I spent my day and I hope theirs was more relaxing than mine.1

  • I did some research on the hotels in Ft. Lauderdale to prep for the opening of the 2016 conference slots.  It appears that no hotel is directly connected to the convention center but the conference hotel can be reached by walking under A1A, a busy thoroughfare. (Note: I lived in southern Florida for 3 years in the early ’90’s.)
  • I emailed a potential roommate abut my interest in sharing a room at Jamboree.
  • As coordinator of the ProGen alums at Jamboree, I emailed them about the arrangements to get together.
  • Discussed on line the plenary speaker for the OGSA 2016 conference with the OGSA board members and then contacted a recent employer of that potential plenary speaker about their experience.
  • Completed my annual report and my monthly report for SGS.
  • Reread for the 4th time the “Goggons and Gaggins” article for the NGSQ Study Group (Congrats to Lahnice, the author of the article.  She won the 2014 NGSQ Award of Excellence for the top article.  This was announced at the NGS Conference banquet.)  Since I am the discussion leader for our monthly scheduled chat, I also had to post questions for the attendees.
  • I researched RootsMagic.  My software program is no longer supported and so I must change.  RootsMagic, a vendor at the Conference, has a bridge for MAC that accepts TMG, my software. At the conference, I also talked to ArkivDigital, a Swedish documents website I will be subscribing to.  Obviously, I thought the exhibit area was especially good this time.
  • Cleaned out my “dumping ground,” aka my purse.  Found that I had taken my roommate’s Instruction book for the Meyer’s Orts and I now had two.  Whoops! Packaged it up to send to her tomorrow.
  • I went to yoga!
  • I developed a DNA testing plan with the goal of finding a match that will identify my husband’s grandfather; his mother was born out of wedlock.  So, I contacted by husband’s family asking them if they are willing to be tested by two companies.  He has 4 brothers and sisters and they each need to be checked by two companies…the cost will not be small.

Being at the conference is tiring and exhilarating at the same time.  I received a lot of support to work and submit my portfolio for certification.  It was greatly appreciated.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last post:  See above.
1 I just realized I forgot to send Gretchen my syllabus for the presentation on Wednesday and to prep the website for them. Ouch!

 

NGS 2015: Day 2, Survival

NGS 2015 RencherNGS is such an intense conference–friends to catch up with, archives to visit, classes to attend, receptions to attend…and it goes on.  But, four or five days of genealogy immersion is absolutely fun for me.  So, I thought I would “dribble a bit” about how I pace myself to get through the day and the night and avoid total burn out. (Photo: just prior to David Rencher’s presentation on finding your Irish Ancestor)

First of all, I am very intense about genealogy–but, you probably have figured out–so I probably have a higher tolerance of intensity than most.  I also suspect that each of you, the readers, have probably figured out that you have a passion as well which can over take you at times.

So, here are my top Five Survival Tips (actually more) for NGS conference.

1.a. Do your conference schedule pre-planning.  It’s a lot quieter at home to do your homework than it is on the fly at the conference.  For me this means, downloading the app, reviewing the syllabus and picking the classes I would like to attend (often multiple ones held at the same time) is critically important.

Ann Bauer1.b. Do your geographic pre-planning:  Every conference takes you (usually) to places you do not normally travel to.  Who do you know who lives in the area? Arrange for dinner with friends who live in the area who you never see but for this conference.  This might include high school classmates, sorority sisters, and/or friends who have moved away etc.Nothing worse than giving a friend a “cold call” and finding out that they have tickets that night for the play and they cannot meet.

1.c. Do your research pre-planning:  Check your genealogy database for any ancestors who might have lived in the area.  Identify the information you are missing and develop a research plan built around the archives and libraries in the areas.

2. Eat well and drink lots of liquids–and not alcohol! Air-conditioning can make the air incredibly dry so you will want to make sure that you keep hydrated.  I always eat a good breakfast. Pass up on the pastries and have some good protein instead.

3. Always take some courses every day about some topic you think you do not need to know about.  I attended Introduction to Czech Genealogy.  It was a terrific overview of a topic I knew nothing about.

4. Take time to go to the exhibit area and engage in conversation with the people behind the desks about their products.  There are many competing search/document repositories and check into each one to make sure you still have no interest.  If you do have an interest, indicate so and perhaps even try out their conference specials.

5. Have fun!  You can have fun in all sorts of ways.  I make sure that in eveny class I introduce my self to whomever I am sitting next to.  I meet the mot fascinating people–the woman from Audubon, Iowa who is going to help me with my Danish butter maker, a librarian from Florida who is just starting ProGen, and another woman from Nebraska.  Do not hesitate to include the first timers with your dinner plans as they will add to the conversation.  but, save time for “old friends” as well.  They are too precious to not pay close attention to.

Having a good time in Missouri,

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What i have done since my last post:  attended the following classes: transcription skill-building, Introduction to Czech genealogy, problem solving class by the Master, Tom Jones, Finding your Irish village of birth.  Attended the BCG sponsored lunch. Had dinner with the ProGen alumni and then had a drink with my friend Theresa from Boston.  Karen walked me through her Day 2 presentation on DNA.  So far I am not too stupid about the concepts but there is still time! 🙂

 

NGS: German Day!

NGS 2015 computerEven lunch was schnitzel and German chocolate cake!

I signed up for a special class at National Genealogy Society 2015 conference: “German Studies: Understanding German Records and Methodology.”  It was taught by Warren Bittner, CG, Baerbel Johnson, AG and Carol Whitton, CG.  All were excellent and all were very different in their approach but consistent in their love and passion for German records and research. (my class “station” in photo left.)

Since so many of the US citizens claim Germany as their ethnic heritage, I thought I would identify some of my big “takeaways,” as there were many.

My German Problem ‘child” is Fredrick Eilers, who must be an alien as he seems to drop from the earth, marry my Eda (van Hoorn) Berg and then must have been called back to his planet, as he then disappears from the area.  Eda used his surname on one document but within 7 years Eda reverts to her previous name of Berg and Friedrick is never mentioned again in any record found.

I do know Fredrick’s birth parish, something that others search years for and may never find.

Since I already had “Fred’s birth parish, I didn’t think that Baerbel’s session on “Finding a German Town of Origin” would be a particular interest.  I was wrong! Here are some of the interesting items Baerbel Johnson presented, all of whcih may help me with my problem.

  1. Read the FamilySearch Wiki first.  This has become a go-to site for me and I was glad to hear that she felt that way too. There is a long description of search strategies in Germany on the wiki; just look for “Tracing Immigrant Origins.”
  2. cCeck out http://www.genealoger.com/german/ger_emigration_records.htm for German Emigration Records.
  3. Emigration before 1820 was often clusters of individuals from single areas.  After 1820, individuals became more dominant.  Don’t know how this can help me yet.  I have already traced all the families named Eilers/Eilerts/Ahlers/Ihlers in the Stephenson County (IL) area and I cannot find where they intersect.
  4. Check out the “Fuzzy Gazetteer” if you have names of places you cannot find and suspect that the spelling is incorrect.  This works for all areas of Germany. http://isodp.hof-university.de/fuzzyg/query/

Warren Bittner also spoke in the AM about German maps.  When you see how much the boundaries changed you can understand how hard German research is.

Between the two lectures, I have several new places to look for help.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last posting:  conducted four lectures at British Columbia Genealogical Society just south of Vancouver on Saturday, 9 May.  It was a wonderful day and I had a great time. Pat and I spent Mother’s Day touring Vancouver.  Went to Granville Island, University of BC, Museum of Anthropology and walked along the seawall in Stanley Park! Had 12 hours to  prepare to leave for NGS 2015!

 

 

NGS conference is right around the corner!

On Monday I am off to the NGS (National Genealogical Society) 2015 conference in St. Charles, Missouri.  I am excited about it for three great reasons:

  • I will have dinner with my college friend, Anne, and her husband who I haven’t seen for a couple of decades and I have never met him.
  • I will room with my good friend Karen from Chicago.  We are both “on the clock” and so we can commiserate together (Is the root word of commiserate “misery?”)
  • but, best of all, I will be attending a terrific conference.

I was planning to share some great tech tools with you to make your conference experience more enjoyable, but then I was usurped by Beth Ziesenis, writer of the blog, “My Nerdy Best Friend,” when she posted “The Best Tools for an Upcoming Event!” I decided instead build on what she suggested and give you my impressions of some of her recommendations.

1. Tripit!  I downloaded Tripit a year ago but I do not use it.  However, for a certain type of person–like my daughter Anne– this might be an invaluable tool.  It allows you to enter all your data about a particular trip in a single location–your flight information, receipts, hotel, speaking engagement times, etc. etc.  It is the virtual equivalent of my envelopes–each trip has an envelope and I have all information for each of my trips, whether for business 1 (School of Medicine) or business 2 (genealogy).  (see photo left–once I get to wifi where my emails come through!)

2. Yelp.  I am using Yelp more and more.  Just used it the other day to check out a venue for a banquet for a conference we are planning at the UW.  Use this app to find all the restaurants in the area that may be a bit off the beaten track so you won’t run into 150 other genealogists standing in line at the most obvious restaurants!

3. Zoom.  I want to check this out but haven’t.  Beth (My Nerdy Best Friend) says it is a great site for videoconferencing back to the office or with friends. on your digital devices

4.  LastPass.  Too many passwords?  If you don’t use this app/site you should!  This keeps all your passwords together and secure.  I love this site.  You have one password to access Lastpass and then you can see all your others that you have.  This is a terrific site.

5. NGS App.  Again, if you don’t use this you should!  The big advantage?  It is constantly updated!  I there is a problem or a change in the room, the app will be the first to get the new information.

“My Nerdy Best Friend” had a few other apps/programs that are useful for event goers (Evernote, for one).  You might want to check them out as well.

See you in 4 days!  I will be in the German all day class on Tuesday.  Looking forward to that class.  Maybe I can get a step closer to solving my Frederick Eilers issue–they guy who levitated into my great grandmother’s life, married her and then levitated out.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last posting:  I published and prepared for mailing the SGS newsletter (my last as Publications Director), worked on my BCG Case Study, wrote all the response letters to the submitters of the SGS Family History Writing Contest (also designed and issued the certificates), got ready for the British Columbia Genealogical Society Spring Seminar–4 presentations on 9 May.