Monday, August 31, 2020
Saturday, August 29, 2020
Quoting from an announcement made on 28 August 2020:
Ontario Ancestors and FamilySearch International announced their new book scanning partnership. Under the agreement, FamilySearch will provide specialized book scanning services and support volunteers in exchange for access to Ontario Ancestors’ extensive library of historical and genealogical books. Digitized documents will be publicly available on both websites. Digitization is scheduled to begin by the end of 2020, depending on pandemic restrictions.
This agreement is a first for a genealogical society in Canada. President Steve Fulton UE commented that “this agreement has no direct cost to us, but the benefits to the society are immeasurable.” He also went on to say that this agreement is a “direct result of the many conversations that we have had with a number of partners, and [it] is a key to delivering on the society’s goal of building up its digital presence by utilizing strong partnerships.”
Dennis Meldrum, FamilySearch manager of book scanning partnerships, says Ontario Ancestors has one of the largest collections of family history and genealogy books in Canada. “It will be a privilege to work with Ontario Ancestors to digitize and share their impressive collection of books not under copyright,” said Meldrum.
This is the second time the two organizations have partnered on records preservation and access. The first digitization project was the Vernon Directories that began in 2019 (Search the Ontario Vernon Directories for fun discoveries about your ancestors).
FamilySearch.org currently has over 490,000 genealogically significant digital books online which are free to the registered users of the website. See the following:
Friday, August 28, 2020
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
The definition of "overburden" that I am using here refers to the "rock or soil overlying a mineral deposit, archaeological site, or other underground feature." Google Dictionary. In doing genealogical research it is necessary to remove the "overburden" of duplicate entries, previously inaccurately done research, and other detritus before we can actually make some progress. Here is an example of the overburden from a recent FamilySearch Family Tree search.
One ancestral line back about six or so generations is the Sheldon line beginning with my 5th Great-grandmother, Elizabeth Sheldon, b. 1713, d. 1801. This family is mainly from Rhode Island as were those in my Tanner surname line. The problem with both the Tanner surname and the Sheldon surname is that these are fairly common names and both families names all their children with the same names. A quick look on Findmypast.com shows that this website has almost 800,000 records for the Tanner surname and almost 500,000 for the Sheldon surname. One important fact about both these names is that people with these surnames are not necessarily related. When you get back to Rhode Island in the 1600s, commentators on the family's genealogy acknowledge that there are two original Sheldons named John who are not related. They are referred to as the "John Sheldon of Providence" and the "John Sheldon of Kings Towne." There are also people named John Sheldon at the time living in Connecticut and Massachusetts. The confusion in the Family Tree is so complete as to boggle the mind of the most persistent researcher.
When someone with less experience starts to work in these "messy" areas of their family tree, it is almost inevitable that they become confused, especially when there are "sources" supporting the entries when the real historical person was misidentified. One simple example from my own lines was my direct line ancestor, William Tanner, b. about 1688 probably in England but possibly in Rhode Island. People kept adding a parish record from England for a "William Tanner" born about the same time but at that time there were over 1,700 William Tanners listed in the records of Findmypast.com and there were no records connecting any of the William Tanners in England. Why would someone doubt the entry when there was a parish record to support the christening. What is even harder to detect is the fact that this particular "William Tanner" was only one of approximately a dozen men with that name during the time period when Francis Tanner, the documented end-of-line person was born.
Although a tremendous amount of work has gone into some of these lines, the information is usually contradictory and unsupported. I believe that the main issue with online family trees is this massive duplication of effort that has occurred. The FamilySearch.org Family Tree and a few other consolidated family tree websites such as WikiTree.com and Geni.com, have created a mechanism where this overburden can eventually be eliminated but in many cases all that has been acheived is to graphically illustrate the problem. For example, the problem I mentioned about John Sheldon in Rhode Island from the FamilySearch Family Tree is duplicated in WikiTree.com and in Geni.com likely because the information came from the same faulty original sources.
Now when I go back to my early years of genealogical research, I now realize that I "fell" for many of these overburden traps since my original research was based on Family Group Records that were submitted over a period of about 100 years to the Genealogical Society of Utah, now FamilySearch. One of the biggest problems is the failure of many genealogists to even recognize that this huge overburder of duplicate and inaccurate records even exists.
Meanwhile, I have plenty of work to do. It is obvious just from this last week's work that I have yet barely scratched the surface of the problems that exist on my direct line ancestors in the online collaborative family trees.
Saturday, August 22, 2020
|An ahnentafel family tree displaying an ancestor chart of Sigmund Christoph, Graf von Zeil und Trauchburg|
Whether oriented horizontally or vertically, the charts have the same information. What they show, however, is significantly misleading and culturally prejudicial. Why does this particular type of chart exist? The primary reason involves the establishment of a system of validation for royalty and nobility based upon the concept of primogeniture or inheritance through the firstborn son.
I have been reading through a lesson book for teaching genealogy published back in 1943. Here is the citation to the book.
Deseret Sunday School Union Board (Salt Lake City, Utah). 1943. Adventures in research: genealogical training class Sunday School Lessons. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Sunday School Union Board.
The emphasis and outline of this lesson manual are illustrative of many of the same basic attitudes commonly taught today. Here is quote from the book that reflects a common genealogical attitude even today. The quote is in the context of telling about how someone started their genealogical research effort by taking some classes.
One of the lessons stressed [in the classes] the duty of everyone to trace his lineal ancestors even in the case of adoption, for "the bloodline is the first responsibility."
Hence, the traditional pedigree chart. One result of this emphasis was apparent to me when I began my own ancestral research. Many of my predecessor researchers had focused only on their own surname line and had recorded only the "bloodline" in their pedigrees. This focus is still extremely evident today in many of the online family trees. Here is an example from the FamilySearch.org Family Tree.
Granted, this illustration reflects the way records were kept back in the 17th and 16th Centuries but it does illustrate the influence of the standard pedigree chart. If you were to zoom in on this line, you would also see that the wives in this direct line are not identified even by given name. Here is an example.
This is not an extreme or rare example, it is rather common.
Now, what have we lost through this focus on the "bloodline" as was understood by generations of genealogists? The answer is more readily apparent when we impose our Western European cultural emphasis on non-European cultures. This emphasis blinds us to family relationships that do not "fit" within our standard pedigree format as expressed by the anthropological term "kinship." Here is a reference to a good introduction to the concept of kinship.
“The Nature of Kinship: Menu of Topics.” Accessed August 22, 2020. https://www2.palomar.edu/anthro/kinship/Default.htm.
Here is an introductory quote from this website:
Kinship refers to the culturally defined relationships between individuals who are commonly thought of as having family ties. All societies use kinship as a basis for forming social groups and for classifying people. However, there is a great amount of variability in kinship rules and patterns around the world. In order to understand social interaction, attitudes, and motivations in most societies, it is essential to know how their kinship systems function.
Essentially, by a narrow focus on the traditional pedigree chart and its implications, we lose all of the family kinship relationships. Here is another quote from the website showing what is lost.
In societies using matrilineal descent, the social relationship between children and their biological father tends to be different than most people would expect due to the fact that he is not a member of their matrilineal family. In the case of ego below, the man who would have the formal responsibilities that European cultures assign to a father would be his mother's brother (MoBr), since he is the closest elder male kinsmen. Ego's father would have the same kind of responsibilities for his sister's children.
This is a representation of matrilineal descent.
Focusing on the "standard" bloodline Western European model developed to validate royalty and nobility obscures, ignores, and denigrates this cultural reality. In fact, this emphasis forces genealogists to become blinded in their research efforts outside of the narrow cultural model inherited from Western Europe.
Interestingly, this emphasis is so pervasive in the historically predominant culture of the United States that the currently violent political atmosphere reflects this bias. The increasing popularity of genealogical DNA testing, largely ignored by those who support any concept of racial supremacy, undermines the cultural basis for the standard pedigree model.
It is also interesting that the immensely popular Harry Potter series of books is based on a theme of the conflict engendered by claims of racial purity.
It is time that genealogists stop promoting a narrow view of lineage and kinship and begin to discuss ideas of ways that kinship relationships can be preserved and documented. I think that the web format for the internet with clouds of relationships based on cultural kinship is the best representation of reality. What do you think?
Friday, August 21, 2020
Thursday, August 20, 2020
Personally, I have been helping a few people every week with research questions. You are welcome to contact the library or me directly. Leave a comment on my blog or contact me by email or through Facebook. Here is the contact information for the Library.
Family History Assistance (Missionary Volunteers)
For family history help by email or phone, or to schedule a virtual family history consultation or group instruction.*
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: (801) 422-3766
*Although we cannot currently host groups in person, we can schedule YSA or other groups for virtual classes or other group instruction.
If you leave a comment on my blog with your question and contact information, I will not publish the comment but I can then contact you about your question.
Monday, August 17, 2020
Thursday, August 13, 2020
- Rhode Island
- Rhode Island
- Rhode Island
- Rhode Island
- Rhode Island
- Rhode Island
- Rhode Island
- Rhode Island
- Rhode Island
- Rhode Island
- New York
- New York
- Issac Sheldon, Sr. -- No record of birth, mention in two census records, will
- Thomas Sheldon -- One census record 1790 no birth or death record
- Susan Sheldon -- No sources (two legacy sources without any references)
- Gideon Sheldon -- No sources
- John Sheldon -- No sources (one legacy source with no reference to a source)
- George Sheldon -- Burial record (FindAGrave), Mention in a book, will, (one legacy source) no birth date or parents
- Colonel Joseph Sheldon Esq. -- A FindAGrave reference with death date and burial date, no birth information
- Benjamin Sheldon -- No sources
- Potter Sheldon -- two references to the 1790 U.S. Federal Census and a will in 1798
- Caleb Sheldon -- FindAGrave reference and a will (legacy source without any mention as to where the information was obtained)
- Hanna Sheldon -- FindAGrave reference to burial, birth date, and death date, no parents identified
- Sarah Sheldon -- No sources
- Content Sheldon (England) -- No sources
- Thomas Sheldon in the U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 showing birth year as 1709 and wife as Harriet Winters in New York.
- Thomas Sheldon in Rhode Island_ Vital Records, 1636-1850
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
This continues our tradition of giving back to the community. With so many people currently confined to their home and doing their best to stay safe and healthy — we’re giving everyone a fun way to pass the time and enjoy genealogy!Using these tools, you can get to know your ancestors in a whole new way. Your old, faded, black and white family photos will come to life, in full color and sharp focus — making them look almost as though they were taken yesterday. We invite you and your followers to pull out your family photo albums today and join in the fun.
Here is one of my own photos that has been enhanced and then colorized with the before and after:
Quite a difference! Here is a newer photo that has been colorized.
You can't miss this opportunity to rejuvenate old black and white photos.
Saturday, August 8, 2020
Ancestry.com boasts more than 3 million paying customers from around the world, and the DNA data it manages is highly valuable to anyone who would be interested in selling it to, say, pharmaceutical companies or medical data firms. It’s almost a no-brainer that a big hedge-fund company would want a slice of the pie.The clincher seems to be that:
Of course, if you submitted DNA information to Ancestry.com, this also means your data is at risk of being sold or traded.Duh! That was always the case. In fact, the DNA part of Ancestry is handled by a subsidiary of Ancestry LLC doing business as AncestryDNA. Here is the summary from Wikipedia: Ancestry.com.
If you read the agreement or read the Terms and Conditions at the bottom of the Ancestry.com website pages and provided to you when you purchased your DNA test kit from AncestryDNA, you would already know the following (See https://www.ancestry.com/cs/legal/privacystatement#GeneticInformation):AncestryDNA is a subsidiary of Ancestry LLC. AncestryDNA offers a direct-to-consumer genealogical DNA test. Consumers provide a sample of their DNA to the company for analysis. AncestryDNA then uses DNA sequences to infer family relationships with other Ancestry DNA users and to provide what it calls an "ethnicity estimate". Previously, Ancestry.com also offered paternal Y-chromosome DNA and maternal mitochondrial DNA tests, but those were discontinued in June 2014. The company describes the technical process of testing in a scientific white paper. In July 2020, the company claimed that their database contained 18<https://www.ancestry.com/corporate/about-ancestry/our-story> million completed DNA kits bought by customers.Ancestry DNA is commonly used for donor conceived persons to find their biological siblings and in some cases their sperm or egg donor.The testing itself is performed by Quest Diagnostics.
This quote is part of a rather extensive document but it is interesting reading. Also, the Terms and Conditions tells you how to delete your personal information if you wish to do so.7. What Information Do We Share, when Do We Share It and Who are the Recipients?Ancestry does not share your individual Personal Information (including your Genetic Information) with third-parties except as described in this Privacy Statement or with your additional consent. We do not voluntarily share your information with law enforcement. Also, we will not share your Genetic Information with insurance companies, employers, or third-party marketers without your express consent.NOTE: Ancestry does not sell your Personal Information.Ancestry may share the following categories of Personal Information about you or your use of the Services with the types of entities set forth in this section for business purposes (as defined by applicable law), or as required by applicable law:Identifiers (such as name, address, email address); Account Information (such as shipping address); Credit Card/Payment Information; Computer or Mobile Device Information; Audio and Visual information (such as recordings of calls with Ancestry Member Services or information voluntarily shared when doing consumer insights research); Inference data about you; Other Protected Classifications (such as gender and marital status); Health Information as well as Biological, Physiological, or Behavioral Traits and anything else mentioned in the table below.
Excess mortality data avoid miscounting deaths from the under-reporting of Covid-19-related deaths and other health conditions left untreated. Excess mortality is defined as actual deaths from all causes, minus ‘normal’ deaths.
In other words, you can see the effect of the pandemic independent of any inaccurately reported data due to politics or other factors. For the United States, these statistics, the difference between the observed numbers of deaths in specific time periods and expected numbers of deaths in the same time periods, is maintained by the Center for Disease Control or CDC. As a side note, you may be able to understand why the CDC has become a lightning rod for politicians. Do your own research. You can see the extensive charts and supporting data on the CDC webpage, "Excess Deaths Associated with COVID-19." Also, in case you are wondering, the United States presently (as of the date of this post) has the highest number of deaths per 1 million of the population of any country in the world although this figure is reported deaths and does not take into account under-reporting by some countries and even under-reporting in the United States.
As we, as genealogists, go back further into the past, we will see that mortality rates increase particularly among infants and young children but discovering the excess death rate caused by any one particular disease becomes less possible. Estimates from the past suggest that about half of all the children born before 1900. The global youth mortality rate in 1950 was 27%. The global infant mortality rate in 1950 was 16%. Currently, the youth rate is about 4.6% and the infant mortality rate is about 2.9%. Of course, some countries have mortality rates much higher than the average. See
Do your own research if you disagree.
What does this mean for genealogists? The obvious fact is that many people died without being recorded and that the overall mortality rate increased during plagues and pandemics. If people seem to disappear from a genealogical record, it is probable that they died and their deaths may not have been recorded. Learn about the history of your ancestors with reference to plagues and pandemics. Do your own research.
Friday, August 7, 2020
Stevenson, Noel C. 1989. Genealogical evidence: a guide to the standard of proof relating to pedigrees, ancestry, heirship and family history. Laguna Hills, Calif: Aegean Park Press. http://books.google.com/books?id=GJ0bAQAAMAAJ.
(8) Public Records. A record or statement of a public office if:
(A) it sets out:
(i) the office’s activities;
(ii) a matter observed while under a legal duty to report, but not including, in a criminal case, a matter observed by law-enforcement personnel; or
(iii) in a civil case or against the government in a
criminal case, factual findings from a legally authorized investigation; and
(B) the opponent does not show that the source of information or other circumstances indicate a lack of trustworthiness.
By the way, there are several exceptions in Rule 803 for documents relating to family history. OK, now in order to come to some conclusion in a reasonable period of time, I have to say that a U.S. Census record does not fall within any of the exceptions to the Hearsay Rule as to the accuracy of the information recorded about the people listed. Without some additional documentation or a family history document, the census record, by itself, is not self-proving and would not be admissible.
Now, what about the genealogical direct and indirect evidence rule, primary vs. secondary, and what about original vs. a copy? How reliable is a U.S. Federal Census record? Unfortunately, the patina of legality does not add anything to the accuracy of the document. The fact that is was compiled by someone who worked for the U.S. government does not add anything at all to accuracy either. The real evaluation of this record is that it is inherently unreliable.
So what does looking at a document using all of the legalese do for a researcher? Not much, if anything. In fact, it is extremely unusual if we can identify the "informant" for the information in a census record, i.e. the person who gave the information to the enumerator.
Do I use the information in a U.S. Census document without going through all this quasi-legal stuff about it reliability? Of course, I do. However, I do not rely entirely on any one record. So how does historical or genealogical research relate to what goes on in court? Not at all. You are the judge and jury. You decide what is and what is not reliable. You determine was is and what is not evidence and unless you happen to be an attorney, you probably have not concepts of hearsay, hearsay exceptions, or all the other legal issues involved in proving a legal case. It is also unlikely that you think much about primary vs. secondary or all the other distinctions made in the genealogical literature.
So how do we know we are "right?" The key here is all genealogical (historical) conclusions are tentative and subject to finding additional information. What did we think about who we were related to before DNA tests became readily available? DNA testing is a good example of a development that overturn even the most certain opinions and conclusions.
Why do I keep explaining my opinion on this subject? Because I keep seeing people trying to categorize historical records using a quasi-legal methodology that is really meaningless. I can stare at that census record image above for days and analyze it to death but the information still remains recorded as it was recorded and the next document that comes along my completely contradict the information and challenge my conclusions.
Now, you say, what about comparing two documents? Hmm. Now we are back to the beginning of the whole issue. If the two documents agree then they reinforce our opinion. If they disagree, we are back to the beginning. Do we work on the premise of the majority rule? Not if all the documents come from the same source. For example, I often see several marriage records about the same married couple. But, ultimately all of the records unless made for different reasons all report the same event. OK, I know all about banns, marriage bonds, etc. and those are different records which may or may not agree. But just because a record was copied does not add to its accuracy.
I could go on indefinitely but the conclusion is this: using legalese and making distinctions about the origin of documents does not add to their accuracy. A court proceeding is not the same as historical or genealogical research.
Thursday, August 6, 2020
The deal is Blackstone’s first acquisition out of Blackstone Capital Partners VIII, the largest-ever private equity fund that raised $26 billion from investors last year. ... The acquisition’s price tag represents a significant jump to Ancestry.com’s valuation from four years ago, when Silver Lake and GIC invested in the Lehi, Utah-based company at a $2.6 billion valuation.
Blackstone (ticker: BX) said Wednesday it was buying Ancestry in a deal valued at $4.7 billion. Blackstone will have roughly 75% of Ancestry, while GIC—the sovereign-wealth fund once known as the Government of Singapore Investment Corp.—will have 25%, Barron’s has learned. Bank of America (BAC) and Credit Suisse are providing debt financing.
Ancestry uses information found in historical records and family trees to help its more than 3 million subscribers discover their family history. The company also uses DNA tests to give users more data about their family tree and recent genetic ethnicity. The Lehi, Utah, company operates in more than 30 countries. It produces over $1 billion in annual revenue.
Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Tuesday, August 4, 2020
- Beware of Plagiarism on Genealogy websites
- Plagiarism Raises Its Ugly Head Again within the Genealogy Community
- How Genealogy Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement Makes Everyone a Loser
- How to Share Without Plagiarizing
- Genealogical Plagiarism and the Library Community
- Let's Talk About Plagiarism
- Plagiarism and Copyright for Genealogists
Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use.
- The purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
- The nature of the copyrighted work
- The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
- The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work