- Understanding Terms Found in Historical Newspapers
- The Growth of Newspapers Across the U.S.: 1690-2011
When I saw a story with the headline 500-year-old Jewish skeleton found in Brazil, my mind immediately raced to a dark corner. Rather than marvel at what is no doubt a fascinating discovery, I wondered instead: What makes a skeleton Jewish?
I skimmed through the details: skeleton found in Recife, Brazil, near the first synagogue of the New World, perfectly preserved male adult, no mention of horns, buried in the 16th century, perhaps a refugee of the Spanish Inquisition…A-HA!…jackpot!
Nuthall Parish, Nottinghamshite, UK: FAMILIES thought vandals had run amok in a cemetery when around 50 headstones were knocked over. Some were in tears when they saw the state of graves at Nuthall Cemetery in New Farm Lane.
But the “culprit” was Nuthall Parish Council. One shocked woman, who did not want to be named, was convinced vandals were to blame. Then she saw messages attached to each headstone explaining that the council had moved the headstones for health and safety reasons….
In 2000 a six-year-old boy from Harrogate was killed when a sandstone headstone fell over. And, in 2003, a nine-year-old boy collecting conkers in Burnley was crushed.
In the never-ending search for ways to remember the Holocaust, the newest media contrivance to appear is “Holocaust Music.” National Public Radio recently profiled an Italian conductor who has embarked on a quixotic campaign to record every note of music composed inside a Nazi concentration camp. Two months ago, New York’s Lincoln Center played host to the Defiant Requiem, a traveling revue that presents a dramatic reenactment of a performance of Verdi’s Requiem that took place in the Terezin concentration camp during World War II. The concert tour has crisscrossed the globe, with headquarters in a summer institute in the Czech Republic. A related documentary film has aired on PBS. On the face of it, these artistic efforts certainly sound legitimate. Aren’t they merely the musical analogue to the literature depicting the horrors of the Holocaust?
They are not. In fact, I’d argue that these efforts represent a tragically misconceived approach that distorts the memory of the Holocaust and slights the very musicians that they purport to honor.
The odd history of the 14th amendment
Today is the 145th anniversary of the ratification of the 14th amendment.
Unless maybe it wasn’t ratified until the 21st.
Or maybe even the 28th.
It depends on how you count, you see, and on who’s doing the counting.
Ratified amendment pre-certification, 1866–1868
Ratified amendment pre-certification after first rejecting it, 1868
Ratified amendment post-certification after first rejecting it, 1869–1976
Ratified amendment post-certification, 1959
Ratified amendment, withdrew ratification (rescission), then re-ratified
Territories of the United States in 1868, not yet states
That receipt by the State Department was what triggered the process of sending the amendment to the states for ratification. Like any amendment, it needed three-fourths of the states to ratify it,3 and with 37 states then in the Union, the approval of 28 states was required.
The first to ratify was Connecticut, on 25 June 1866.4 And a string of other northern states followed in 1866 and 1867:
|Connecticut||Jun 25, 1866|
|New Hampshire||Jul 6, 1866|
|Tennessee||Jul 19, 1866|
|New Jersey||Sep 11, 1866|
|Oregon||Sep 19, 1866|
|Vermont||Oct 30, 1866|
|Ohio||Jan 4, 1867|
|New York||Jan 10, 1867|
|Kansas||Jan 11, 1867|
|Illinois||Jan 15, 1867|
|West Virginia||Jan 16, 1867|
|Michigan||Jan 16, 1867|
|Minnesota||Jan 16, 1867|
|Maine||Jan 19, 1867|
|Nevada||Jan 22, 1867|
|Indiana||Jan 23, 1867|
|Missouri||Jan 25, 1867|
|Rhode Island||Feb 7, 1867|
|Wisconsin||Feb 7, 1867|
|Pennsylvania||Feb 12, 1867|
|Massachusetts||Mar 20, 1867|
|Nebraska||Jun 15, 18675|
And that’s where things sat until early in 1868, when things went wonky.
On the 15th of January, 1868, Ohio changed its mind and rescinded its ratification of the 14th amendment. It was joined in that on-again-off-again vote by New Jersey on the 24th of March 1868. In the meantime, on the 16th of March, Iowa had ratified the amendment.6
Arkansas ratified on 6 April, Florida on 9 June, North Carolina on 4 July, and Louisiana and South Carolina on 9 July.7
So… as of the 9th of July 1868, 28 states had ratified the 14th amendment. But two had changed their minds. And nobody was entirely sure what that meant. Secretary of State William Seward sent a certification to Congress on the 20th of July in which he took the position that it was “a matter of doubt and uncertainty whether such resolutions are not irregular, invalid, and therefore ineffectual for withdrawing the consent of the said two States, or of either of them, to the … amendment…”8
And he then hedged his bets:
I … do hereby certify that if the resolutions of the legislatures of Ohio and New Jersey ratifying the … amendment are to be deemed as remaining of full force and effect, notwithstanding the subsequent resolutions of the legislatures of those States, which purport to withdraw the consent of said States from such ratification, then the … amendment has been ratified…9
That’s how today could be the 145th anniversary of the amendment. The 28 states needed would all have ratified it by the 9th of July.
And there are two different ways to think of the 21st of July as the anniversary. First, Congress went ahead on the 21st, in reliance on Seward’s certification, and passed a joint resolution declaring that the amendment had been ratified.10
And by that date, two more states had ratified the amendment. Alabama ratified the 14th amendment on the 13th of July,11 so that’d make up for Ohio. And Georgia ratified it on the 21st of July,12 and that’d make up for New Jersey.
So you can count the 21st because that’s when Congress acted, or you can count the 21st because there were 28 states no matter what the story was with Ohio and New Jersey.
But what about the 28th? Well, see, Seward wasn’t so sure about Ohio and New Jersey. So after official word of Georgia’s ratification reached him, he sent Congress another certification on July 28th unconditionally saying the 14th amendment had passed.13
So maybe it’s the 28th that’s the anniversary.
But no matter when the anniversary really is, the amendment itself is one of the most far-reaching ever adopted. It provides, in § 1, that:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.14
And just think of the lovely records that kind of language has led to…
Image: Wikimedia Commons, user Snowfire.
The Code of Ethics of the Association of Professional Genealogists contains two similar statements:
[I therefore agree to:]
2. . . . fully and accurately cite references. . . .
4. . . . refrain from knowingly violating or encouraging others to violate laws and regulations concerning copyright. . . .
At first glance these two issues seem to say more or less the same thing. “Cite your sources”—a refrain I have often repeated in this blog and elsewhere.
There are, however, two separate issues at play here: one of documentation, the other of attribution.
Documentation is ultimately a good research practice, but not necessarily an ethical issue. Is it unwise to jot down that birth date on your family group sheet without noting the death certificate making the claim? Of course it is. One will quickly regret not citing the sources for information. Is it unethical not to cite that death certificate? I’m not so sure that it is.
Violating copyright laws, on the other hand, is definitely unethical (and illegal). Plagiarizing someone else’s work is unethical. Quoting someone else’s work without attribution is unethical. Even copying large portions of someone else’s work with attribution is unethical. For those of us who make a living from our intellectual property, plagiarism and copyright violation quite literally constitute theft.
There simply is no legal or ethical way to copy someone else’s intellectual property. “Fair use” does not allow wholesale copying, despite what one might think–even with a citation of the source. Without attribution, any copying whatsoever is unacceptable.
Copyright violation and plagiarism have been discussed quite a bit among genealogists lately. Rather than repeat all of the information, I will simply provide this list of recent articles on the subject, most by authors far more knowledgeable on the subject than myself. If you write content for a blog or website or society newsletter or anywhere else as part of your genealogical career, please take the time to educate yourself on this subject.
The following posts all involve recent cases alleging copyright:
Edited to add the following two additional links:
 “Code of Ethics,” Association of Professional Genealogists (http://www.apgen.org/ethics/index.html : accessed 6 July 2013).
What is Clooz 3?
Why Should I Use Clooz 3?
- A Program to Consolidate, Index, Analyze and Report Document and Image Data
- A Family History and Genealogy Research And Analysis Tool
- A Windows Desktop Application
- Gather, Analyze and Validate Clues and Evidence About Potential or Suspected Ancestors
- Analyze Family History Challenges Using Factual Document-based Research Strategies
- Organize and Index Collected Documents and Images
- Support "One Name" Surname Studies (large or small)
Welcome to Custodian 3, the database software which helps you to store, index and organise the information you have gathered from all kinds of family history records.
Use Custodian for general family history research, one-name studies, indexing projects, local history and one-place studies. Keep a computer-based version of all your paper records, documents and lists in one place and minimise endless searching for paperwork.
A New Kind of Genealogy Tool
- Evidentia is genealogy software created from the ground up for the user who wants to take their research to the next level. It turns what you know into evidence you can use.
- Too many conflicting sources about Grandpa William’s birth? Evidentia presents all your evidence on one screen, making it easier for you to separate fact from fiction.
- Not sure how strong your evidence about when and where your great grandparents were married is? Evidentia’s reports help you to identify the gaps in your sources.
- Evidentia is the software program that will help you feel confident in your research.
The Family Pack is an ambitious open source project to create a new cross platform genealogy program. The project will involve designing a new genealogical database, creating a program to make use of it, and finally, organising ways of providing some standard universal data sets.
The database design owes much to the impressive GenTech Genealogical Data Model. One idea taken directly from the GenTech GDM is that of Personas. A personas is a small separate particles of information that relates to a person. We can collect these personas from separate sources and then build them up to create individual person. The database uses the concept of a Reference Statement to link together Personas, Events, Dates, Places and Attributes (Characteristics) records. This idea is loosely based on the GenTech's Assertion record. The Reference Statement is the heart of the new database and provides a very flexible way of entering and organizing evidence. It can consist of any typed statement and could be a simple statement by the researcher reviewing other statements, a transcription of a historical documents (certificates, census, parish records etc.), a description of a photograph or transcribed tape recording.
What is GenQuiry?
GenQuiry is designed to help you manage your family history research. It was born through my own experience of researching families in Wales, trying to make sure that I made the most of my visits to archives 300 miles away, keeping track of the searches I had done and the clues I still had to follow up, and recording my reasoning for deciding which was my ancestor out of three "John James" all living in the same small Pembrokeshire parish around 1800!
If you've ever had problems:
- keeping track of searches you've made — and their results, positive or negative — and the searches that you plan to make
- planning what to do on a visit to some archives, making sure you don't forget anything vital at the far end of that long trip
- keeping track of which sources are relevant for a particular place and how to access them, so that you don't overlook an important clue because the existence of a source slipped your mind
- citing your sources consistently, so that you always know where a particular piece of information came from
then GenQuiry may help you.
- recording how you reached a conclusion from a variety of conflicting evidence
GenQuiry can support: family history research, one-name studies, one-place studies or research into more general topics. You can use any or all of the features, to suit the way you choose to work, and integrate it with your existing physical or electronic filing system.While some of these applications have been around for a long time, more of them are new. This category is emerging, and I suspect there will be more applications and services that will enter this space in the future. Ideally the features of these apps would be combined with a mainstream conclusions-based application, to allow one to carry out both aspects of genealogy - person-centric conclusion-based genealogy, and document-centric evidence-based genealogy.
My latest Guardian column is a one-act historical drama about metadata, starring Winston Churchill, Alan Turing and UK Home Secretary Theresa May:
May: Mr Turing and his colleagues have laboured hard with every hour that God has sent, but try as they might, they can extract nothing of use from the Enigma cipher.
Churchill: (roaring) Nothing? All these years, all this work, and you have nothing?
May: Well, not precisely nothing, prime minister. The lads have got far enough that they are able to extract "meta-data," but I stress again that this is of no strategic import and would in no way help us to compromise the foe.
Churchill: Meta-data? Tell me more of this meta-data? Is it a Greek word?
(May turns to Turing, who wipes his palms on his trousers)
Collecting DNA samples at death
DNA testing was something that could always be done.
Down the road. Someday. When there was time.
And then, suddenly, there was no more time.
So reader Pat Rand and her husband turned to the funeral director they had chosen for his mother’s funeral and asked for help in getting that last precious sample of DNA.
And ran into a brick wall.
And so, Pat asks, “Do the next of kin of a deceased person have the right to ask a funeral director to take a DNA sample after death? It wasn’t that my mother-in-law wouldn’t have given one if we had asked earlier, it’s just that suddenly I realized it was the last chance we had to get one. The funeral director went absolutely ballistic on me, did everything but froth at the mouth when I asked.”
Oh brother. Was that funeral director ever wrong. Because Pat, her husband and their family should have gotten that sample taken, they should have had the chance to preserve that last genetic connection with the older generation that would live on after their loved one’s death.
And all it would have taken is what you see here: a couple of q-tips and a paper bag. No drawing of a blood sample. No surgical taking of a tissue sample. Just a couple of q-tips and a paper bag.
Let’s deal with the practicalities first. Obtaining a DNA sample from a deceased person is a very simple thing to do. I put the question to Bennett Greenspan, president of Family Tree DNA, the one DNA testing company for genealogy that doesn’t require saliva for its testing.
And he advises that all that’s needed is to have the mortician use a q-tip and scrape inside the cheek of the deceased. Getting one sample from each side of the mouth is best; it gives the greatest chance of collecting enough DNA on the swab.
But, Greenspan says, there’s nothing difficult about handling the swabs after the samples are taken: “Just let the swabs air dry, place in a paper baggie, not plastic, and mail to us with instructions.” (You can contact Family Tree DNA for more information using the contact information here.)
Now let’s turn to the law.
There is no law anywhere in the United States that I could find that bars the next-of-kin from authorizing the taking of a DNA sample from their loved one except, perhaps, in the extraordinary situation where the loved one had expressly stated in writing beforehand that he or she did not want DNA testing to be done.
How could there be such a law? The next-of-kin get to decide what’s done with the body: will there be a burial? A cremation? And every state in the United States — without exception — allows the next-of-kin of a decedent to consent to organ donation.1
And this is pretty much the law around the world: either the next-of-kin can consent to what happens with the body parts or, in some jurisdictions, consent of the deceased is presumed.2
Compared to this grant of authority, taking a tiny bit of DNA on a q-tip is small potatoes. It’d hardly be illegal to do that when you can give away eyes, organs — even the entire body.
As noted, the one exception is where the person, when living, refused to consent to DNA testing. In the organ donation scenario, no means no and if your loved one has a written directive that says no, the law won’t allow the family to override that.3 (And conversely there are now laws in some states that prevent a family from overriding the loved one’s written directive that says yes.4)
American laws don’t speak specifically to that situation for DNA testing — but British laws do. The Human Tissue Authority there dictates that the express wishes of the person, while alive, will control (if the person had been asked and said no, that no remains in force). If the person never was asked, then the next of kin may certainly act.5
And in states that do have laws about genetic testing generally, there’s usually some provision for decisions by a legal representative of the tested person. For example, Oregon has one of the toughest genetic privacy laws in the nation, and it authorizes consent to be given by a person’s personal representative — meaning someone appointed by the court or, in order, the person’s spouse, adult children, parent, or adult siblings.6
This authority of the next-of-kin to act is generally recognized by funeral directors and others involved in the death process around the United States. In Ohio, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner accepts the consent from the decedent’s legal custodian and/or next-of-kin.7 The National Funeral Directors Association has an authorization form (online at the Virginia Funeral Directors Association website) for the collection of DNA samples, to be signed by the spouse or next-of-kin.
And by 2013, DNA testing was such a routine part of the funeral business that exhibitors at the industry’s 2013 convention offered preservation kits for sale.8
Moreover, because the funeral home represents the last clear chance to obtain a DNA sample, some industry representatives are advising that funeral directors may face civil liability if they don’t tell the families that they can get a sample at that time. One industry lawyer even advises funeral homes that they should get customers to “sign a form releasing the funeral home from any liability for claims that a DNA sample should have been taken.”9
It’s a darned shame that the Rands’ funeral director went absolutely ballistic when asked to get a DNA sample in this case. His actions deprived that family of a part of their genetic legacy that can’t be completely recovered by testing other family members. The family’s wishes should have controlled.
For the rest of us who may face this situation in the future, a word to the wise: get testing done now. But if time runs out, present the funeral director with your own signed authorization form to take a DNA sample … and a few q-tips and a paper bag.
We don’t usually repost other’s content here, but this graphic is such a perfect illustration about the challenge of personal digital archiving that it deserves special attention. It’s from Doghouse Diaries.
That’s right! More changes in genealogy technology! This time changes to various search functions at Ancestry.com and the end of Old Search. Despite what the cover above looks like, there is no reason to panic and there are good reasons for change . . .
What The Changes at Ancestry.com Will Mean
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit in on a conference call with Ancestry.com product managers and saw a demo of the changes to search. Not only was I impressed, but I was actually blown away by some of the new ways in which search results can be displayed. For me, the most important features were those where you could customize what you did or didn’t want to see. With any site that relies on Big Data and ways to display it, I appreciate it when I site doesn’t “assume” what I want right away but allows me to select the data fields I want.
As noted in the email from Ancestry.com to its users (see full email below), here are the anticipated changes:
The Death of Old Search on Ancestry.com
One change, which some might see as radical, is the removal of Old Search. I have to confess that I am still among the 2% of Ancestry subscribers who still rely upon Old Search. I know that things changes, that platforms have to change in order to improve performance. PAF is going away (understandable), Google Reader is going away (still blows my mind), and now Old Search. I’m actually surprised it took so long; I know it isn’t easy to support two different search mechanisms and then continue to make changes to each.
During the conference call, I and other genealogy bloggers on the call urged Ancestry.com to “manage expectations” when it came to announcing the removal of Old Search and to get input from the community. From the email below you’ll see that and I urge those users passionate about Old Search to click the survey link and send your feedback.
Technology Changes – Get Used To It
I’ll admit it isn’t easy even for a tech guy like me to keep up with changes in technology, and yes I get frustrated too. But I’ve come to realize that I need to evolve and “change with the changes.” I also think about how my ancestors reacted to technology changes: the automobile, the telephone, etc. Yes the changes seem to come more rapidly nowadays, but we use way more technology than our ancestors.
I look forward to the changes in search at Ancestry.com and I’m keeping an open mind, especially knowing that they want feedback and want search mechanisms that best serves its user community.
* * *
Here is the text of the Ancestry.com email to its users:
Ancestry.com is continuing our efforts to improve the search experience across Ancestry.com and will be making changes to our search functionality in the upcoming months. Some features will be added and some will be discontinued. As part of the 2% of our subscribers that use the old search function on the site, we know that you are passionate about the search experience on Ancestry.com and we are reaching out to you to get input on potential improvements. We hope you will take the opportunity to share your insights and feedback on our plans.
To identify which areas of the experience we should focus on this year, we have drawn on customer input, usage data, usage patterns and our old search function for inspiration. From all of that, we are looking at making your time on Ancestry.com more productive by improving these areas of the search experience in 2013:
As we begin to make these improvements, we will no longer maintain two separate search systems for the site. Maintaining two systems limits the resources we can use to make improvements and increases the complexity of every improvement we try to make. Additionally, continuing to maintain the two systems limits our ability to direct more investment into other areas like adding more record collections and correcting existing collections.
Based on that, as a part of the work this year we will be bringing together the two search experiences into a single search experience on Ancestry.com. We hope to bring forward the best features of both the old and new search systems into the consolidated experience to facilitate the transition for our users and to improve the overall search experience. We expect to discontinue the old search function as a separate experience within the next 6 months.
As a user of the old search feature, we wanted to give you advance notice and let you influence the changes we are making in search. Please take this survey to share your feedback and ideas on key features to improve.
The Ancestry.com Product Team
©2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee
Ancestry.com Changes Search Functionality and Removes Old Search is a post from GeneaBloggers.com. All rights reserved.
The Supreme Court is often in the news for its decisions. Certainly today’s decisions have been a remarkable step forward for civil rights. But we often forget that these decisions actually filter down and make a huge impact in records for genealogical research. When the court makes decisions, oftentimes the ramifications impact recordkeeping.
Let us take today’s decisions about DOMA and Proposition 8 for example. How will this one decision of the court impact recordkeeping, and thus resources for future genealogists. In some ways, it will actually reduce the number of records available in the future. In others, it will increase them.
For example, same-sex married couples until now have been required to file three different tax returns. Their state taxes would be filed jointly as a married couple. But federal returns were required to be filed separately. Now, they will be able to file a single, joint return. This reduces the number of tax records from three to two.
Of course there will now be many new marriage records as well. California is the most populous state in the U.S. In the coming years, millions of same-sex couple will now be able to get married. The multitude of complicated (and expensive) legal documents that were previously needed to ensure the rights of these couple will no longer be necessary. This includes many documents regarding parental rights.
Existing records will also become more accurate. Census records, voter lists, etc., currently do not correctly reflect relationships. Now couples would be able to accurately state that they are legally married. American citizens will now be able to sponsor their foreign-born same-sex spouses for citizenship.
The list goes on and on. Supreme Court decisions may seem far removed from your day to day life, but they often have real-life impact. And part of that impact pertains to records, both old records that will no longer be kept, and new records that will occur because of those decisions. Future genealogists will have volumes of paperwork to work with to more fully document our lives.
The following is a guest post by Madeline Sheldon, Junior Fellow with NDIIPP.
Most of you who follow this blog have an interest in digital preservation and will already be familiar with the following information. This particular post is more for the individuals who are just beginning to understand the implications of their digital footprint and what it means to store/preserve and retrieve their data.
Recently, an acquaintance of mine asked about the progress of my research, curious to learn more about the nature of my work. I did my best to relay some of my recent findings about digital preservation stewardship, but when her eyes started to glaze over, I knew I had to employ a different approach. I tried to think of topics that would translate easily into popular culture without losing my friend’s attention, or confusing her with technical jargon. I had the most luck with metadata, mostly because this person had heard mention of its existence in the news and wanted to hear more about how this “new” term existed within her own life.
In order to make metadata relatable, I explained that she inadvertently created metadata every single day by logging onto her favorite social media site, sending an email, text or even taking photos with her digital camera. I used a metadata guide that I found online, followed by real-time demonstrations to further illustrate my point. Together we looked at source code from her newest social media update, pointing towards the time stamp and text of her most recent post:
In the same way, I explained, emails and text messages create metadata which highlights sender/receiver information, such as location, and the day/time a person sends/receives a new message. When taking photographs with a digital camera, the resulting image often has data encoded into the file, such as size, resolution and camera make/model.
This revelation piqued her interest, though she still didn’t fully comprehend why I needed to relate metadata to my research with digital preservation planning. I did my best to keep my explanation as simple as possible, using digital photographs as a relatable example. Digital material, I explained, is not a stable medium, eventually degrading or becoming obsolete. Cultural institutions dedicated to digital stewardship work to prevent this by creating policies or strategies within their organization to plan for long-term preservation of this material. The use of metadata is a major component in this process because it holds valuable, descriptive information, which allows the digital object to be accessed or discoverable in the future.
After our conversation, I felt a sense of accomplishment because I made metadata fun and relatable to a person completely outside of my profession, which rarely happens. Despite this, I think the conversation went so well because metadata appears to be a hot topic at the moment, though that may (or may not) change in the future.
Whatever the case may be, I can revel in the satisfaction that I successfully brought a new convert to the (meta) side.
You said "We are not talking about science here. I can't conduct an independent experiment and validate your findings."
Two years ago this argument may have been mostly true.
Today, genealogists do have the ability to scientifically verify the results of their paper "proofs". DNA does not lie. Autosomal DNA testing and the tools developed for working with this data is available now. It allows us to scientifically prove the validity of our methodology findings.
It is not cheap ($100 to $200 range depending on current sales), but it is getting there very fast. It is already less then the cost of traveling to a distant repository.
It does require the participation of other descendants, but social networking and on-line trees make them easier to find then ever.
It does require time and does not replace paper based proofs, but it certainly is science and it can produce your "proof".Hmm. You may or may not have noticed that I stay well away from certain topics. The reasons for this are complex. For example, I am an active and participating member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a Church Service Missionary at the Mesa FamilySearch Library, but I do not usually comment in this Blog on either Church doctrine or Church procedures. It is not they do not impact my beliefs and practices, but I have chosen to address the larger genealogical community as such from the standpoint of genealogy. In this position, I mirror the attitude of the FamilySearch Centers around the world. Normally and if things are operating properly, anyone should be able to utilize the FamilySearch Centers and Libraries without concern that they will be "proselytized" by the Mormon missionaries. I feel the same way about this Blog.
SNP based testing: "The reliability of this type of test is dependent on comparative population size, the number of markers tested, the ancestry informative value of the SNPs tested, and the degree of admixture in the person tested."
STR tests: "As most STR analysis examines markers chosen for their high intra-group variation, the utility of these particular STR markers to access inter-group relationships may be greatly diminished."
Biorgeographical ancestry: "As studies from more populations are included, the accuracy of results should improve, leading to a more informative picture of one's ancestry."
The First Rule of Genealogy is to start with what you know, and work your way back. You’ve already identified what you know about your family and learned to record it on the proper forms. Now it’s time to learn how to gather information from family members.
1.Tasks (in order)
1.Assures that the relative received the forms.
2.Gives you the opportunity to teach her how to fill out the forms.
3.Shows your relative that you’re going to keep calling her until she mails the forms.
2.Content of initial letter:
1.Sometimes things that you remember will spark your relative’s failing memory.
2.Mistakes in your records will goad even a tight-lipped relative into making corrections.
3.Wave a Carrot:
Show the relative that his information will serve as a launch pad, allowing you to then gather and share information that he doesn’t already have.
1.Tell him your class will teach you how to find records he has not yet found, like birth, marriage, and death certificates, family photographs, censuses, obituaries, wills, deeds, immigration records, diaries, and court records.
2.Ask him what he’d like to know about the family, and make arrangements to research these things for him.
3.Guerilla Tactics: Sometimes, the interviewee will not provide any new information because he is embarrassed about the family member in question. Living family members often withhold information on illegitimate births, abusive parents, or criminals. If the interviewee seems to be withholding information out of embarrassment, explain to him the following….
4.Priming the Pump:
6.Special details by interview type
1.Don’t use "Genealogy info." or "Send me all your genealogy research."
2.Use something like "Francis Ritchey: care to collaborate?" This tells the receiver that you’ll share your information with him, and that you’re asking him to send you his records on only one individual, which is an easy thing to do. If the receiver is gung-ho about researching Francis combines Francis’ name with the word “collaborate."
Before you call, tape an introduction. Include:
1.Interviewer’s name & location.
2.Respondent’s name, age, & location.
3.Relationship between interviewer & respondent.
4.Date of interview.
5.Example: "This is Michael T. Ritchey of Provo, Utah, interviewing Dora Mae (Harpley) Ritchey of Akron, Ohio. Today is 28 November 1997. Dora is the mother of my father Paul Kenneth Ritchey. She is 80 years old."
Cassette tapes — Yes Cassette Tapes. They can be stored for a very long time.
1.Use 60 or 90-minute cassettes. 120-minute tape is too thin and will break, melt, or stretch easily. The same goes for micro cassettes.
2.After recording, break the tabs off the cassette top. This keeps you from erasing the interview or recording over it. If you later decide to record over the interview, simply cover the tab holes with adhesive tape.
2.Rechargeable batteries are cheap and long lasting.
Types of microphones
Google BooksThe menus and the search methods will obviously vary from one site to another. However, a few minutes spent exploring each site's holdings could pay big dividends.
Allen County Public Library
Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library
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Telegram from George Burns to Bob Hope, 1991. Library of Congress
According to Fox News, on July 14, 2013, India will signal the end of an era by sending the last telegram. Text messaging has rendered the iconic telegram obsolete. When I think of telegrams I think of bad news. At one time this was the quickest way to notify family members that a tragedy had occurred. During war time people dreaded seeing the telegram delivery boy. I opted to post an image of a funny telegram instead.
The first telegram was sent by Samuel Morse 144 years ago and was an important form of communication in our country’s history. I wonder what Samuel would have thought about text messaging.
Samuel F. B. Morse, 1872, Library of Congress
Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis
I read a horrifying article in the New York Times yesterday that threatens the very idea of historical research, not to mention destroying genealogy as we know it. And if you think this is overly dramatic, guess again.
The digital age has brought us an unprecedented age of communication. Official government websites provide access to original records. And commercial websites are also providing resources at an incredible rate. Social media websites allow us to keep in touch with each other. I have lost count of the number of people in my past that have come back into my life through Facebook and other websites. Not to mention the amount of genealogical research I have been able to do.
Now imagine a world where these resources were unavailable. Worse, still, imagine a world where the records don’t exist at all! The European Union is looking at legislation that could achieve just that.
Unfortunately, this age of communication has not come with a better sense of judgement. Many people put information out there that they are ashamed of. Certainly there is more than one photograph floating around that someone doesn’t want to see published. There are also those who are trying to put the past behind them by trying to wipe it off the face of the Earth. This ranges from people who make minor mistakes in high school to those who commit serious crimes as adults.
All of these people are working to erase themselves. They feel that they should have the option to remove themselves from the internet. This includes search engines, newspaper websites, social media, and more. It could even extend to government records.
The European Union is considering legislation that would grant to individuals a “right to be forgotten.” This would allow people to delete references to themselves online, whether they created the references or not. Major internet companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and more, are valiantly fighting this legislation. It is one thing to allow people to delete their own content, it is another thing entirely to allow people to delete content created by others.
The technology companies have now found an ally in l’Association des Archivistes Français (the Association of French Archivists). The AAF argues that email, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media websites contain the “correspondence of the twenty-first century.” They rightly fear for future historians. “If we want to understand the society of today in the future, we have to keep certain traces.”
This fight will likely continue for awhile. And it will spill over to America and the rest of the world. This is a difficult challenge for us as genealogists. The best part of genealogy is being able to flesh out ancestors. Imagine being able to erase yourself from the record. Descendants might not even know you ever existed. Imagine how poor a place that future would be.