The Necessity of Accurate Reporting, for the Hobbyist

I have used research as a tool for the majority of my 55 year career. While some research can end directly with the desired result, such as a home project or item of purchase as examples, most in depth research requires some sort of documented report for posterity.  Without this documented report the research goes for naught and the effort applied researching is a fruitless.  While doing engineering work, statusing of projects and tests was commonplace for me and when I entered into management, most personnel problems and their productivities were researched and reported to lay in a paper trail or as I usually referred to it, a track record.  This was helpful at evaluation time as well for taking corrective action to keep and maintain acceptable work flow.  It was from these two end results of researching that I learned, sometimes the hard way, that a writing report is necessary.  The other aspect of written reports is who will be the reader(s) or end users of the written report.  Example: Essays and Thesis requirements in school are a natural outcome of the research needed to complete and submit in written form for the teacher (reader.)

Specifically, the purpose of this blog is to address the needs for written reports for research of genealogists and family historians.  Most of us involved in this field of endeavor are well aware of the standard form type of reports we use during our research, primarily the two most important ones that I use are the pedigree chart and the family group sheet.  My need for a research journal is different from that of standard form as I found the form type too constrictive to fluid research.  What I use in lieu of a standard form is twofold, one being a single or two sheet reports to file that reflecting the research done on specific family members, which I fill in by keeping notes of what sources accessed and the conclusions I came to.  The other journal type report I do is an annual report of the major research I did throughout the year.  I find these two captures not only the specifics of my research, but also associated stories of the individual or location, and highlights the major research activities I was involved in.  All of this allows me to build my family tree with a confidence level that assures me I have the right information and lineage.  I do not adhere to most standards put forth by BCG as they are restrictive and tend to stifle free thinking in research, however they do have their place and are certainly required to garner credibility by users of their services and products.

I need to write a little on why we research our family history.  The reasons are many I am sure, from gaining the knowledge of where we come from to fully fledged genealogy research for paternal, inheritance, and health reasons.  These latter used to be the hallmark of genealogists, but in contemporary times, less so due to the access of data on the internet, allowing even the least interested economical means to develop a family lineage.  If the hobbyist family historian follows the precepts and spirit of research, standardized by BCG he or she will automatically delve into their family history, in an orderly, perverse manner that will yield a family tree of integrity, one that is easily reconstructed from source information.  The ease of building and documenting the family lineage is now readily done on the internet with little or no constraints on what I call source proofing, a slippery slope that often times yields faulty information and at times completely bastardizes credible work done for the benefit of family members.  I would caution everyone using the family pedigrees provided on the internet to do extensive studying of the work being copied and utilized by checking the with the author of the lineage report in question.  This would yield your family tree in a credible manner, provide you family tree with integrity, and reduce the guesswork so evident in faulty reporting and documenting.  In short, go to school and learn from those who have gone before you.

Happy Researching & Writing



Closing Out the Old, Anticipating the New

It has been about a month since I last blogged, but what a full month it has been. Other than an enjoyable Thanksgiving with family and church activities, the majority of my time was put into genealogical activities. I just finished some web programming for my personal website to include four audio excerpts from, a radio program purposed to reduce illiteracy. The four sessions I have installed on my website are those primarily regarding family history research and its results & products. If the products are the written accounting or narrative of the ancestral past as well as our own, the story is left for future generations of genealogists to peruse, pick through, and generally pass on to keep the family story alive. The link to these audio excerpts will be included on my family history website Snyder’s Root Cellar and for your convenience is included here:


I recently was on “” regarding my great grandfather, trying to find his end game so to speak, meaning his life as a building inspector for Tacoma, WA at the turn of the 20th century. I managed to spend some 30-40 hours downloading & transcribing search results of The Tacoma Times, from the archives of the Library of Congress. These spanned from 1904 to 1918 and were not only of his personal impact on Tacoma, but the political climate he worked in. The results consist of 87 personal articles and some 131 article pertaining to the times and politics that my great grandfather had to deal with in the execution of his office. So you the reader can have a taste of the flavor of the time and place he chose to live, consider a city that within 10 years experienced some 3000% growth in population, the living quarters went from shacks to apartment buildings and single family dwellings. There was a minimal fire code in existence, supported by horse drawn fire wagons, and the previous city council apparently did not anticipate the problems this growth would bring. Enough said on that subject until I write my great grand father’s story.


Previous to my last blog, I was nominated and accepted the nomination for the position of VP of Education for Tacoma Pierce County Genealogical Society (TPCGS).   Well, it final and formal so another genealogical focus and set of tasks await me in 2015. To be fair to the reader, I have already started the planning process so from what I understand so far this will be a most enjoyable activity.


My Annual Research Journal entry was completed and posted on my personal website to maintain the status of the research I did this past year. I have found this method to be opportunistic to not only take stock of what was completed, but also to enter it into my journal which is part of memoirs.  Shortly after completing  this,  came an inquiry from a gentleman in PA regarding my Reeves lineage.  Several communications later, he was on his way to examine the depth of that lineage. Another advantage of an online genealogical website.


And finally, I have an 11 slide power point presentation titled “Timelines Tell Tales” that is 95% complete. This is scheduled for presentation at the pre-meeting of TPCGS at the general meeting scheduled for February 10th, 2015. If you can make it there, you could gain some insight into how to glean story lines and themes from timelines.

Reviewing Family History via Show & Tell

Here it is, October 31st and I have only written one blog for this month. It is not because I haven’t been busy but because I have not taken the time to write the blog. For the past week and some of the previous week I was pondering, acting in a trial and error mode, and in essence determining the best approach to present where I was considering my activities in family history research, recording and archiving. With some adieu I was able to put together a “show and tell” session that depicted the result of my research and recording of my family history. The “show & tell” portion of last evening’s presentation contained several elements that seemed to capture the attention of the viewers. I then followed with a power point presentation consisting of 4 slides and supplemented with handouts and more show and tell items. The presentation was essentially a thumbnail sketch of my life in family history research, starting with not having a choice by being immersed in a family who was rich in their telling stories to my slowly increasing activity into research and writing, to the current station of extra time available due to my recent retirement and how that will be playing a big part in my genealogical activities. The organization of show and tell materials is now in place and will serve somehow in my future activities.

A Cherished Memory

I just put in 3 days of coordinating pictures and writing memories from 52 years ago and found it an interesting session with the pen and paper, actually with Microsoft Word.  Why do I do this you might ask.   Primarily I am whole heartedly in favor of every one writing their own story, because as a family historian I have found the that the personal stories and accounts of events very useful in the writing my ancestor’s stories.  Finding the vital information is rather straight forward in today’s world of web databases, but to use only that makes for a dry, usual short accounting of my ancestor’s life.  Those that have left behind autobiographies or snippets of their life in diary or journal form provide the family historian insight to the person that can embellish the writing of the stories and enables an opportunity for the writer keep the narrative from becoming a dry read.


This particular memory of mine was about a cherished event in my life.  In my mid-twenties I was asked to be one of five chaperones on 50 mile trek to be taken by a troop of Boy Scouts that I did not know.  I readily agreed to do it and was paid off in measurable dose of self-esteem.  The day by day accounting of this memory hopefully draws images in the reader’s mind as she or he traverse through the story.  To read this account click this link.,%201962.pdf