Revolutionary Voices: A Last Muster Film — Sorting Saturday

I believe Revolutionary Voices is going to be great project.  But they need a little bit of help still.

Revolutionary Voices

Go to Revolutionary Voices on Kickstarter and learn more.  And maybe kick in a couple of bucks.  Every little bit helps!

March is Women’s History Month. Sorting Saturday.

March is Women’s History Month!  Over on my Ask Ancestry Anne column at Ancestry.com, I’m running through The Accidental Genealogist’s blog prompts for the month, so check in with me there if you want to play along.

Here is something fun from my friends over at Archives.com for Women’s History Month.  I dare you not to find something inspiring in here.  Dare you.
National Women's History Month - Archives.com

Never Assume Anything. Sixty and Serving. Sorting Saturday.

A couple of days ago I wrote a post The Legal Genealogist Inspires Me to Take Another Look at the Puzzle of Jeremiah which discusses why can I find no record of my 2nd great grandfather Jeremiah Gillespie fighting for the Confederacy?  Or the Union for that matter.

Marian Regan mentioned in a comment that maybe she should go back and look for her ancestor who seemed to old being born in 1817, but who knew?  Maybe he did fight.  It is not out of the realm of possibility.

Robert Bryant discharge
Robert Bryant discharge. Reasons include “old age” and “he is just worn out.

In 2011 I wrote a series of 6 posts for Ancestry.com on the Civil War.  The last 4 were about Robert Bryant, who was born about 1802.  Yep, 1802.  He fought for the 7th Kentucky Calvary (Union) and died from complications from a skin infection in a military hospital.  Don’t assume anything! :-)

My two introductory posts:

Four posts about Robert Bryant:

I sometimes regret publishing these — they would have been an awesome case study for conflicting evidence for my CG.  It is what it is.

Sorting Saturday — Fun with Names using Wolfram

I was named for my two grandmothers, Ann Irene Feazell and Jennie Elizabeth Payne.  The name Ann seems to have no family connection that I can find, so I’m also curious as to why she was named Ann.  I found an app on my iPad that added some possible illumination: Wolfram styles itself as a Genealogy & History Research Assistant.

I choose Names History, and then First Name and enter my first name Anne

And then I “Compute”

My first name was chosen for my paternal grandmother, Ann Irene (no idea why mine is spelled with an ‘e’).  She was born in 1917. You’ll notice the name Anne had a surge in popularity at that time.  Is that why my great grandparents chose that name that was handed down to me? There is no known person that my grandmother was named for, so this is a likely possibility.

You can also find variations on names, which as we all know is incredibly useful to those  of us who are searching for those elusive ancestors.

Name Variatons

It doesn’t do all known name variations, but it gives you some good possibilities.

Fun little app.  Give it a try.  Inspiration comes from all sorts of places.

Sorting Saturday — Good Source, Bad Source, Exhaustive Search

To abide by the Genealogical Proof Standard you must do an exhaustive search. 1

We know that includes vital records, deeds, probate, tombstones and a wide variety of original and derivative sources.  But in the age of the internet, what else does it include? How many sites should we look at?  Random Google searches are not the answer I do believe, but are sites that we know to hold sometimes questionable research part of a exhaustive search?

A Southern Sleuth mentions in Treasured Find, how a SLIG instructor mentioned that “one of the instructors reminded our class of the value of checking online trees to determine what research may have been done by other individuals.”  She continues to discuss how she has often rejected online trees because there is quite a bit of bad research or just complete fabrication in those trees, but she decided to add them to her list.

A capture of my paternal grandfather’s online tree.

I have also stopped looking at online trees because sifting through them looking for nuggets is much like searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack.

I also received a comment on this blog from a reader who didn’t have a lot of faith in Find A Grave because there is some bad information on the site.  And indeed there is.  There are plenty of memorials without any kind of documentation, even tombstones, and extra information is added without supporting documentation.  This is a function of the site, it is not set up for supporting documentation other than photos.

This memorial of Mary Hartigan Cash, my ggg grandmother’s memorial on Find A Grave has information supported by the picture of the tombstone, which states her birth year, death date and that she was the wife of Ready Cash. 2

Find A Grave Memorial for Mary Hartigan Cash

It also states that she and Ready had three children, Franklin, Mary E and Virginia, and there is no supporting documentation.  This doesn’t mean the information is wrong, it is actually correct, although my gg grandmother, Martha Jane Cash is left out of the list.

So what is a good source? What is a bad source?

SOURCES provide INFORMATION from which we select EVIDENCE for ANALYSIS. A sound CONCLUSION may then be considered “PROOF.”

– Elizabeth Shown Mills 3

When the information is selected from the source, it’s validity depends on the informant and what their knowledge is of the event.  The source itself is not good or bad.  It is just a source.  The question being asked determines if the information is evidence and analysis determines if the information is part of the proof.  Conflicting evidence must be considered and explained.

Whoever supplied the information for Mary’s tombstone, not the Find A Grave memorial,  probably had good knowledge of her death date, 29 Aug 1887.  In fact, he or she may have been a primary informant if present at her death. But given that she was 87 years old when she died, it is doubtful that they were a witness to her birth, so that person was at best a secondary information.

As for the children of Ready and Mary, the person stating the information, most likely did not have direct knowledge of the children and their parents.  However, the supporting documentation may be there, but we don’t know because it is not listed.

So what does all this mean? The Find A Grave memorial may or may not be good evidence, it depends on the question. There are four possible questions that pop to mind that be answered by this particular source:

  1. When did Mary Hartigan Cash die?
  2. Who was Mary’s husband?
  3. When was Mary born?
  4. Who were the children of Ready and Mary?

The quality of the evidence from the Find A Grave source depends on which question you are trying to answer.  To do good quality genealogy you must do a exhaustive search.  You may choose to reject the evidence because of who the informant is, other conflicting information, or lack of documentation.  But you must examine all the sources available to you.  And online trees and Find A Grave and other online sources hold both good and bad information that must be included in an exhaustive search.

Footnotes

1. Board for Certification of Genealogist, “The Genealogical Proof Standard,” BCGCertification.org (http: //www.bcgcertification.org/resources/standards.html : accessed 25 Aug 2012).
2. Find A Grave, Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 2 Aug 2012), memorial page for Mary Hartigan Cash, Find A Grave Memorial no. 41042042, citing Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia.
3. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained, Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3d ed., digital ed. (Baltimore, Maryland, Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 2012), 3.

Sorting Saturday — Making Sense out of the Mess or Sources Matter

I am trying to pull my grandfather and his ancestor’s lives into order and tell their story.  I find I have a mess of records.  One big old honking mess.  So I’m getting organized.  And not just thinking about it.  Or starting and stopping. (Yes,  I’ve done that multiple times.)  I’m doing it.

Prune the Tree. I use Family Tree Maker (yes, I’m a Ancestry.com employee, but I was using long before I joined the company.)  I went to Export and selected my grandfather, his descendants.

I selected his ancestors and included all parents and all ancestor’s descendants for 1 generation.

Do I really need all of his 5th cousins 4 times removed husbands?  I think not.

This is a copy, nothing is lost if I need to go back.

Sources.  OK, it is time to clean up my sources.  And is where I am now.  I’m cleaning up duplicates.  And removing all those horrid sources that you collect over the years.  I opened my electronic of Evidence Explained (you must get yourself one!) and went to work.  I’m about 30% of the way done I’d guess.  Oh, and managed to delete about 50 1880 sources.  I will recover I’m sure.

My 1850 sources are looking awesome!


One document per family.  I’ve also have one document per family, and attach every one to that.  Boy does the cut down on the chaos.  AND when I make a mistake in  sourcing (gasp!) I only have to correct it and re-correct it once.

Images for Indexes.  You know when you merge in a Social Security Death Index, but you have no image.  Well I make one.  I have Snagit (I love it, but there are other reasonable solutions.)  So let’s say I add my Great Aunt Eva’s SSDI.  I go to the page, clip out the important stuff:

So if I’m working on someone and I don’t have access to the internet, I have everything I need.

I’m sort of excited to have a clean tree.  Sourced correctly.  And then the story telling will go much faster.  I’ve often found it takes me as long to source a blog post as it does write it.  This should really help.

I learned a lot when I took the Genealogy course at Boston University.  I took the class and I got an A.  Now I have to walk the walk. And one thing I believe with all my genealogy heart is that sources matter.  No more sloppy sourcing for me.  And I won’t have to feel guilty when I sit in Thomas Jones or Elissa Scalise Powell‘s classes at FGS!

Happy Sourcing!