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.

 

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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.

BCG Extension: oh, so easy; oh, so needed!

Clock 1I have missed a number of interim milestones in my plan to become certified genealogist through the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). I had committed to using the entire 6 weeks following Salt Lake Institute for Genealogy (SLIG) in January to focus on my portfolio.  Didn’t happen! I think I might have spent 5 hours on it–maybe.  So….if you look at the calendar on the right it is now a year further out. And on the left is a beautiful Elgin watch on display in Elgin, Illinois.  It’s my symbol for being “on the clock!”

BCG certainly makes it easy to extend and I do not think I have met a person yet who didn’t extend at least once; some go through 3- one- year cycles.  I feel I am in good company. (rationalization #1)

I am the victim of my own lecturing success and have been developing presentations, syllabi and websites to support the lectures I give. (rationalization #2)

I am divesting myself of other tasks–I will no longer be on the Board of Seattle Genealogical Society, nor will I be their Publications Director after one more newsletter this April and one more Bulletin.  I have also turned down the City of Seattle and will not serve on the Pike Place Market Oversight Committee–which was a very tough “no!” (rationalization #3-too busy volunteering)

Working against me: I continue to be very aggressive in submitting to national, regional and local conferences and societies.  The latest submission is six proposals to the Ohio Genealogical Society for their 2016 conference in Mason, Ohio.  They turned me down last year, but my resume looks much better this year.  In addition, I have eight proposals into National Genealogical Society (2016, Ft. Lauderdale) and Federation of Genealogical Societies (2016, Illinois). Now, normally they do not pick all of them and in fact, I will be lucky if they pick one.  Presenting this June at Jamboree in Burbank, CA is a great boost–now I have to do a good job–er, “great job.” (rationalization #4)

I truly do need to refocus on the Case Study and the Kinship Determination Project (KDP), both significant papers.

So, wind the clock again and lets get started…but first I have to judge the Family History Writing contest submissions and lay out the newsletter and… and… 🙂

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last post:  Thanks to all of you wishing me a successful outpatient surgery.  Everything went more than fine and exceeded my expectations by a significant amount!  I have been cleaning up a presentation on nonpopulation schedules after Ancestry.com changed the method for accessing the records!  Lesson Learned:  ALWAYS review your presentation before you give it and compare it with reality–as reality changes. Has everyone been watching “Cancer: The Emperor of all Maladies”?  If not, check out PBS.  I really thought the book was better than the series but one can also get bogged down in the book.

NGS 2015: Conference Survival 101!

As most know, I was recently named an Official Blogger for the National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference to be held in St. Charles, Missouri (local host: St. Louis Genealogical Society) in mid-May.  I am looking forward to it for many reasons including the strong program with many great choices, meeting some old and new friends and rooming with my good friend Karen.

This is my third NGS conference, having attended Cincinnati three years ago and Richmond last year.  I remember being slightly overwhelmed at the first one and thought that first-timers and even “multiple-timers” might appreciate some tips about “Conference Survival!”  Since we are  six + weeks in advance of the conference, this first post focuses on the things you can do now to enhance your experience.

  • Download the mobile app.  I love this app.  I loved it so much back in 2013 that I encouraged another national organization to which I belong to use it also!  I have an iPhone so I went to the App Store for the download.  You will find it by searching for “National Genealogical Society.”  Here is the link: http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/attend/mobile-app/  This year they have added some tool tips–hints for how to use the app.  They can get irritating for experienced users.  You can turn the off.  Did I say I love this app?
  • Once the mobile app is downloaded, start reviewing all the “Sessions” options and make some selections now.  You can browse by day or by track–switch back and forth.  You can develop “My Schedule” by clicking on the star.  Do not worry if you have 5 selections for one time slot; you can add more or remove them at will. For now, your inclusion of these on your Personal Schedule will be great reminders of what you might want to attend.  You will, of course, have to narrow it eventually to one.  That’s the tough part but luckily not something you need to do now.
  • NGS is live streaming 10 lectures split between two tracks for $65 each or $115 for both (members).  Track One is “The Immigration and Naturalization Process” and Track Two is “Methodology Techniques.”  There are two reasons you might sign up for this package–1.) you cannot make it to the conference and this is a way to virtually attend 10 of the lectures and 2.) you are attending but are anticipating a conflict with other sessions you want to attend.  Last year I elected to buy one track. I did not attend these lectures at the conference knowing I could watch them at home. You will have four months of access after the conference. You can find more about this option here: http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/attend/live-streaming/
  • If you haven’t made your hotel reservation, you are out of luck on the most economical options.  The conference site lists the hotels with available rooms here:  http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/attend/accommodations/ .  I don’t see a “roommate wanted” list this year. You might want to use you own resources to identify compatible roommates. Don’t forget vrbo.com and airbnb.com.   I used the former successfully when my options were few.
  • If you do not tweet, learn how now so you understand the power of the tweet!  Conference hashtag is #NGS2015gen and you can start following it now.  The most immediate updates will be delivered using social media.
  • Sign up for the conference blog–this will get you real-time information about the conference.  Right now each blog posting is highlighting a different repository, speaker or exhibitor.  Just enter your email address in the left sidebar and hit the subscribe button.  You can unsubscribe whenever you wish.  http://conferenceblog.ngsgenealogy.org
  • Speaking of research…if you plan on doing some research while you are in the area, make your research plans now.  Identify the time you have available and which repositories you will visit based on your research question/problem.  Check out their online catalog and the hours/days of service.  Maybe even give them a call.  You do not want to arrive and find they are closed.  Start gathering your supplies, get your equipment repaired or purchased, and/or take a class on how to use that new laptop even more efficiently. The blog has been reviewing the holdings of different repositories in the area.  If you are not sure which repository to go to for the information you seek, you might read some of the past postings.
  • Load into your smart phone or tablet the apps you will be needing for travel, messaging, or research.  My favorite app is Finescanner!  Finescanner facilitates you taking a sequence of pictures using your iPhone or iPad camera (sorry, Android users–not available) and then assembles the jpegs into one PDF document so your can read them in Evernote or Good Reader!  No more individual jpegs for this girl!.  (When I published this post, it was free at the app store.)  If you use your camera on your phone as a photocopier, then you may find this of help.  If you pay a little more you can get OCR but the reviews are not universally ecstatic. https://itunes.apple.com/app/id534203582. I am not a heavy app user but I also use Google maps, Word (for notes), weather, clock (it’s my travel alarm), Famviewer (has my genealogy database), Booklist (my library–so I don’t buy a book I already have), Evernote & Dropbox (to store documents) and Uber (so I can get a ride even when the cabs are busy.)  You might check out Shoebox for receipts as well.

One more thing…  When at the conference, I challenge you–at least once a day– to thank one sponsor (just stop by the booths) and one volunteer.  Without the sponsor’s financial support and the volunteer’s gift of time, the NGS conference would not be as wonderful experience for us attendees as it is.  So, thank a sponsor and thank a volunteer!  Better yet–when the call for volunteers goes out–volunteer.  It’s easy and fun.

I am getting excited just writing this blog!

If you see me at the conference, don’t hesitate to come up and introduce yourself.  I would love to meet you.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last posting: I had outpatient surgery and am doing terrific. Worked on my syllabi for the next two presentations the first part of April–also checked the websites for each presentation.  We are ready to go.  We have received 8 submissions for the SGS Family History Writing Contest–first ever.  I am very excited. We modeled this after the Southern CA GS Family History Contest.  Thanks to SCGS for running such a great program and granting me permission to track our program so closely to theirs.

NGS 2014: Tips for the Attendee You Can Implement Now!

Woo hoo!  As you can see I was recently named an Official Blogger for the National Genealogical Society conference to be held in Richmond, Virginia in early May.  I am looking forward to it for many reasons including the strong program with many great choices, meeting some old and new friends and staying with my good friend Mary.

Embed from Getty Images

This is my second NGS conference, having attended Cincinnati two years ago.  I remember being slightly overwhelmed at the first one and thought that first-timers and even “multiple-timers” might appreciate some tips about “Conference Survival!”  Since we are several months in advance of the conference, this first post focuses on the things you can do now to enhance your experience.

  • Download the mobile app.  I love this app.  Install it on your ipad and your phone.  Play with it.  It has maps, speaker bios, a direct twitter link (even if you have never tweeted before, this app makes it easy to start.) and the program. Here is the link: http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/attend/mobile-app/
  • Once the mobile app is downloaded, start reviewing all the program options and make some selections now.  You develop your personalized program by clicking on the star.  Do not worry if you have 5 selections for one time slot; your inclusion of those on your Personal Schedule will be great reminders of what you might want to attend.  You will, of course, have to narrow it eventually to one.  That’s the tough part.
  • NGS is live streaming 10 lectures split between two tracks for $65 each.  These will be available for three months after the conference for those who sign up.  Track One is “Records and Research Techniques” and Track Two is “Virginia Records & Migration.”  Make a strategic decision now about whether you want to join the hordes of attendees for these presentations which includes Elizabeth Shown Mills and Tom Jones, or attend one of the other great options which are at the same time slot and watch the presentations later.   You can find more about this option here: http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/attend/live-streaming-at-ngs2014gen/
  • If you haven’t made your reservation and you need a room or you have a room and you feel sorry for all those “folks who want to attend but are shut out of the hotels because they are all sold out,” put your name on the roommate wanted/room wanted list.  It’s easy and you may make a new friend–or not–but that’s the fun of it. https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/ngs-roommate-connections
  • If you do not tweet, learn how now so you understand the power of the tweet!  Conference hashtag is #NGS2014gen
  • Sign up for the conference blog–this will get you real-time information about the conference.  Right now each blog posting is highlighting a difference repository in the area.  If you have Virginia or research needs that take you to DC, these repositories are a gold mine of resources.  Sadly, I have no ancestors from the area.  Just enter your email address in the left sidebar and hit the subscribe button.  You will be able to unsubscribe whenever you wish.  http://conferenceblog.ngsgenealogy.org/
  • Speaking of research…if you plan on doing some research while you are in the area, make your research plans now.  Identify the time you have available and which repositories you will visit. Outline your research question/problem and identify the likely repositories for your search.  Check out their online catalog and the hours/days of service.  Maybe even give them a call.  You do not want to arrive and find they are closed.  Start gathering your supplies, get your equipment repaired or purchased, and/or take a class to use that new laptop even more efficiently.
  • Load into your smart phone or tablet the apps you will be needing for travel, messaging, or research.  My favorite new app is Finescanner!  How did I live without it?  Finescanner facilitates you taking a sequence of pictures using your camera and then puts the jpegs into one PDF document so your can read them in Evernote or Good Reader!  No more individual jpegs for this girl!.  Even my husband was impressed with this app. (This is not a product placement–I make no money off the sale of the app, if fact when I last checked it was free at the app store.)  If you use your camera as a copier, then you may find this of help.  If you pay a little more you can get OCR but the reviews are not universally ecstatic. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/finescanner/id534203582?mt=8

That should get you started.  I am getting excited just writing this blog!

If you see me at the conference and you are a follower, don’t hesitate to come up and introduce yourself.  I would love to meet you.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last posting:  worked more on my ProGen assignment, developed a slide show on GPS Element #2 (SGS is doing a series on the GPS–the “Garmin” of genealogy–it will help us find our way!) Started the research on the expansion of the posting on Gender Balance and authorship for APGQ.   The graphic image of the luggage on this posting is a Getty Image that they have recently (like yesterday!) opened up to non-commercial uses.  They have some great graphics.  I now have to figure out how to get the text to wrap the image.

Are you getting excited for the NGS conference?

YES!  In just a few days I will be traveling to Cincinnati to  attend the NGS conference. I got extra excited today when I received my information about the BCG workshop on Tuesday. I fully expect to regularly blog dealing with my experiences. I have volunteered to work to support the event ( don’t know quite yet where and when this will occur but will let yojkmorelli how thatexperience goes.) I also have requested to be named an official conference blogger.

Other activities have been occupying my time….I have been working on my paper for class. My instructor gave me very good comments/criticisms on the draft that I am in the process incorporating now now. This has required me to do additional reading and research.

I have also been working on my client reports. I have two new clients and so I am getting started with those investigations.  I think that both of these will be more comprehensive than my earlier work.

One thing that has been a dawning realization….I will not have applied for BCG certification before the conference. I think that’s OK but I thought it would be good to let you know I remembered this task.

Happy hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last post:  reread the first two chapters of Professional Genealogy; reworked my paper for my class, volunteered to work at the conference; Interviewed my two new clients and obtained the initial information from one.

Do you ever go back and re-read reference books?

While I rarely re-read a leisure reading book (FYI: I am reading Catherine the Great right now by Massie), I do find myself going back and re-reading my reference books.  As I have now done a few client reports, I thought I would glance again at Professional Genealogy by ESM.  It was interesting how it resonated with me much stronger the second time around.  I suspect that it will resonate even stronger the 3rd and possibly the 4th time as well.

Some of my ah-ha moments as i went through the first two chapters were:

Observation no. 1: I did a little homage to Birdie Holsclaw when I saw her name in the Table of Contents. Birdie was a friend of mine when we lived in Colorado.

Observation no. 2: I have been thinking a lot about what is a “professional?” (Chapter 1: Defining Professionalism by Donn Devine)  There are the professions (usually considered law, medicine, architecture, teaching etc. as professions) of which I belong to one.  Since I did the pro bono work for my clients, I wondered…does that made me a “professional genealogist?” Or, did I have to have a paying client to do that?  Or, did I have to practice for a length of time before I could call myself a professional genealogist?  As an architect I had to have a certain level of degree, then go through an apprenticeship program for three years, and take a comprehensive exam.  Then and only if I passed the test, could I call myself an architect.  Was getting certified kind of like that?  Without a required internship?

Mr Devine defines professionalism by the perceptions of three groups:  public, peer, and self. The narrative about public and self perception are very short, less than 1 page each.  The one on Peer Perception is 6 pages long.  Obviously he considers the perceptions of peers to be the critical audience.  He then outlines some of the elements of peer perception, noting that preliminary applicants for BCG certification have, on average, 15 years of personal experience (check!) and 3 years of professional experience (nope).  At some point I might set up a score card and see how I have progressed on the 7 major categories (some have subcategories).

Observation no. 3: I read through Chapter 2: Educational Preparation by Claire Mire Bettag, CGRS.  It was very interesting.  I promise myself that next year I would either go to Samford or take the BU course.  Ms. Bettag gives a good overview of the courses, some of which I was not aware of.  One I hadn’t checked out as closely as I should is the NGS course or those given by NARA in DC.  I will check those out.

And that’s how far I am right now.

I would like to offer two ideas for comment:

  1. BCG should consider the addition of a mentorship program to their process of certification.  I find that I feel particularly isolated here from the serious researchers and would like to have someone I would talk to regularly to push me to a higher level and to comment on work product.  While each client report got better and better, I think they would have been much better quicker with some mentorship.  I do not think this has to violate their rule about it being 100% your work if the comments were received after the client report was delivered to the client but it allowed the individual to incorporate the comments into the next work product.  I am sure they have thought of this.  I just think it sounds like a good idea.
  2. Teleconferencing would make some of these classes/conferences more accessible instead of having to journey to a specific location and pay for housing and food etc.  I was glad to see RootsTech have some of their sessions on-line.  A friend of mine recently got her a business doctorate on-line.  She lives in Houston.  You can get your doctorate in Pharmacy on line.  All from reputable universities.  Seems like genealogy classes (complete with assignments and class participation) could work with a Skype feature.

So those are my thoughts today.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

Things I have done since the last post:  read the first two chapters of Professional Genealogy again; worked on incorporating the comments of my instructor into my paper, posted 3 postings on the class bulletin board on sources, information, evidence and about writing footnotes and bibliographies; worked on the brochure (I have the next draft done…I need to get a good picture of me), did some filing of work product.