Genealogical Resources in the Information Age

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					Genealogical Resources
 in the Information Age

  Emma S. Clark Memorial Library
     Spring 2005 Educational Program
         Wednesday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m.

               A Presentation by:
              Joseph A. Betz

Technology has transformed the way we do genealogy
• The amount of information has increased
• Speed of moving information has increased
• Search/mining capability of information has increased

Result = overwhelming amounts of information
• Types of information need to be segregated for value
• Approach shifts to accommodate strengths in the technology
• Data management and dissemination increasingly important
• Genealogy increasingly becomes technologically contextual

This presentation is a conceptual model for today’s genealogical
  research. It’s a highly personal observation of how to, that will
  challenge both novice and experienced genealogist.

Presentation outline
    Introduction                   Strategy
    IT Revolution & Change         Expectations
    Genealogy Standards            Data Management
    Types of Sources               Dissemination & Sharing
    Record Keeping & Citations     Case Study
    Emma Clark Resources           Conclusion
Information Technology (IT) Revolution

Technological Change:
   – Theories on technological interactionism or determinism that accounts for
     changes in culture
   – IT Revolution has changed genealogical research in less than decade
   – Maturity of 3 unique technological components form this system

New technological system components are:
   (1) Internet = delivery or transportation system
   (2) Data mining / full text indexing = search capability
   (3) High-speed OCR imaging = translates images to searchable data
Information Technology (IT) Revolution

Result is a shift in value (v), methodology (m) and economy (e):
    (v) = Searches are conducted in a fraction of the time (time value)
    (v) = Information is inexpensive and accessible from almost anywhere
    (v) = Increase interest, participation and interaction on-line (social value)
    (m) = Information is searched to find previously impossible matches
    (m) = Research is quickly managed and published for dissemination/feedback
    (m) = New information is made available and the cycle repeats itself
    (e) = Industry of genealogical book publishers in recession/transformation
           with books available on line or CD having full text search capability
    (e) = Genealogical industry of researchers and services centered around
           Salt Lake City is in transformation with records available on
    Standards for Genealogical Research
            Recommended by the National Genealogical Society

Remembering always that they are engaged in a quest for truth, family history
   researchers consistently -
• record the source for each item of information they collect.
• test every hypothesis or theory against credible evidence, and reject those that
   are not supported by the evidence.
• seek original records, or reproduced images of them when there is reasonable
   assurance they have not been altered, as the basis for their research
• use compilations, communications and published works, whether paper or
   electronic, primarily for their value as guides to locating the original records,
   or as contributions to the critical analysis of the evidence discussed in them.
• state something as a fact only when it is supported by convincing evidence,
   and identify the evidence when communicating the fact to others.
    Standards for Genealogical Research
            Recommended by the National Genealogical Society

• limit with words like "probable" or "possible" any statement that is based on
   less than convincing evidence, and state the reasons for concluding that it is
   probable or possible.
• avoid misleading other researchers by either intentionally or carelessly
   distributing or publishing inaccurate information.
• state carefully and honestly the results of their own research, and acknowledge
   all use of other researchers’ work.
• recognize the collegial nature of genealogical research by making their work
   available to others through publication, or by placing copies in appropriate
   libraries or repositories, and by welcoming critical comment.
• consider with open minds new evidence or the comments of others on their
   work and the conclusions they have reached.
                   Genealogical Sources

Types of Sources
• Primary and Secondary sources
• In Between and Suspect sources

A contemporary, unbiased record of an event is ideal but keep in mind
   that information given by an applicant or informant:
    1. May be deliberately false or had a reason for not telling the truth on a
       document, i.e., a vested interest
    2. May have had a poor understanding or bad memory of the event
    3. A clerical error could have been made recording the event
    4. Always triangulate all records and information
        Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary sources include: land records (deeds), wills, court records
   (probate, guardianship, divorce, civil suits), church records
   (baptism, marriage, death, burial), vital records (birth, marriage
   and death certificates), military records and Social Security

Secondary sources include: almost all published works, (town or
   county histories, family genealogies, indexes, abstracts of
   original records, newspapers), bible records, tombstone
   inscriptions and almost everything on the Internet.
      In Between and Suspect Sources

In between primary and secondary sources include: Census records
   (accuracy of informant and enumerator), some information on
   death certificates (accuracy of informant) and the Social
   Security Death Index (SSDI).

Suspect sources include: LDS FamilySearch Internet Genealogy
  Service including Ancestral File, International Genealogical
  Index (IGI - the best of the lot), Pedigree Resource File,
  RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Search and the memory of very
  aged relatives.
             Record Keeping & Citations

Record Keeping (paper & electronic)
•   Journal all interviews, file all notes and lists of things to do
•   Keep a log of all record requests and correspondences
•   Keep certified copies of records in plastic page loose-leaf binder
•   Organize family photographs in scrapbooks and scan them electronically
•   Electronic filing of all images from internet (i.e., census records, maps)

•   The value of your genealogical work in measured by the citations!
•   Each event should have one or more simple citations, even if it’s not your
    work. Always be able to defend where your information came from.
•   Standard for heritage societies (DAR, SAR, Mayflower Society, etc.)
                Emma Clark Resources
                       Premium On-line Resources

Ancestry Plus
Census Records 1790-1930             Birth, Marriage, & Death (abstracts)
Military Records                     Family & Local Histories
Immigration Records                  Court, Land & Probate Records

Heritage Quest
Census Records 1790-1930             Family & Local Histories
PERiodical Source Index              Revolutionary War Records

New York Times Historical 1851-2001 (obituaries)
                Emma Clark Resources
                          Free On-line Resources

LDS FamilySearch (
Ancestral File                      International Genealogical Index (IGI)
Pedigree Resource File              Census 1880 US, 1881 B&C
Vital Records Index (foreign)       Social Security Death Index
Family History Library Catalog

RootsWeb (
WorldConnect Project                Social Security Death Index
Various Links                       Death Index (CA, KY, ME, TX)

Genealogical Societies (search/image fee)
NEHGS (oldest & best)       NYGBS                      NGS
                 Emma Clark Resources
                           Free On-line Resources

Cyndi’s List (
240,000 categorized & cross-referenced genealogy links

Ellis Island Index (
Passenger Arrival Records 1892-1924

German Genealogy Group (
NYC Grooms Index 1895-1936            NYC Death Index 1891-1936

USGenWeb Project            
WorldGenWeb Project         

Initial Process to 1850
•   Always work back, don’t try to link to a family
•   Interview family members, keep a journal and record everything
•   Find information on entire families and note naming patterns
•   Social Security Death Index for exact birth and death dates
•   Census records from 1930 to 1850 (mapping out phase)
     – 1900 has each individuals birth month & year
     – 1880 has every person indexed and is free
     – Look for parents or relatives living in the household for surnames
•   Write for civil birth, marriage and death records (vital records)
•   Check newspapers for obituaries
•   Check ship arrival records for immigrants

Secondary Process and before 1850
•   Check LDS FamilySearch and RootsWeb WorldConnect for clues, especially
    prior to 1850
•   Check published town histories, records, genealogies, and compilations
•   Map civil (town/county) and religious (parish) geographic divisions
•   Investigate availability and types of records for expectations
•   Understand migration patterns, social and religious context
•   Check for church and cemetery records
•   Check for wills, court records and land deeds
•   Check for military records and pensions
•   Check scholarly journals (The Register, TAG, NGS Quarterly, NYBG Record)
•   Locate historical societies or topical on-line genealogical support groups
               Genealogical Expectations

High expectations
•   Social status linked to family pedigree
•   Wealth, privilege and land ownership
•   Religious importance of record keeping
•   Civil registration requirements, starts to be universal in the 19th century
•   Stable social and economic structure

Low expectations
•   Oppressed social class or ethnic group
•   Frontier environments, war, famine or poverty
                      Data Management

Realistically, the only way to use organize, compile, publish and
  disseminate genealogical information is through the use of
  genealogical software. All can export a GEDCOM file
  (GEnealogical Data COMmunication)

Genealogical Software - Most Popular
•   Personal Ancestral File 5.2 (PAF) - free from LDS
•   Family Tree Maker 2005 (FTM)
•   The Master Genealogist 5.15 (TMG)
•   Legacy 5.0 Deluxe Edition
•   Family Origins
                Dissemination & Sharing
            Recommended by the National Genealogical Society

Sharing information or data with others is important but keep in mind -
• Respect the restrictions on sharing information that arise from the rights of
   another as an author, originator or compiler; as a living private person; or as a
   party to a mutual agreement [avoid publishing information on living persons].
• Observe meticulously the legal rights of copyright owners, copying or
   distributing any part of their works only with their permission, or to the limited
   extent specifically allowed under the law's "fair use" exceptions.
• Identify the sources for all ideas, information and data from others, and the
   form in which they were received, recognizing that the unattributed use of
   another's intellectual work is plagiarism [especially for notes and biographies].
• Be sensitive to the hurt that revelations of criminal, immoral, bizarre or
   irresponsible behavior may bring to family members.
Case Study

• Everyone should be able to trace their family history back prior
  to 1850 without much effort
• Future = More automated process

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