Research

It’s About Time …….

Here I sit with the knowledge I have not written to my blog in sometime, primarily for three reasons: the first being a busy summer schedule; the second being because of that I have little to write about at this time; and the third is that I am not about to become a slave to a periodic blog post with little of meaning and depth to write about, else it becomes a gossip column which is beyond purpose of the posting.

Part of this summer’s work was focused on developing several talks & presentations, one of them digging into what simplicity can be added to the plethora of “writing experts” currently on the internet; while lending encouragement and inspiration to the subject of writing personal and ancestral narratives.   The first attempt I made was to develop a 1-2 page report style form that is primarily used to capture first thoughts of a family historian while she or he study and evaluate the various genealogical data found on the internet today.  It is primarily a source evaluation report, and for me personally, this approach has worked in the past even though I am rather new at it, I find that 80% of what I capture works to lend ideas, themes, and story lines to my ancestors.  Because I capture initial thoughts, I am not left with trying to remember what I wanted the information for, what I was writing about, or even the evaluation process.  To enhance this short form approach, I developed an application for my desk top computer that not only enables my entering the information, but saves the work in a file folder and indexed to be recalled at a later time.  This software will be finalized for release sometime in the early fall.  At the moment is plays on Windows 10, with Office 2010 only but that is scheduled to change sometime in the future with the aim of it playing with Office 97 and newer releases.

Another project undertaken this summer was the transcribing and compiling of my mother’s post cards and letters into a volume titled “Dorothy’s Voice,” an activity I found enlightening as my memories during our life during WWII in Bremerton, were modified to the point of wondering what in fact were my experiences that were the germs of memories as I recalled them.  This is a topic for another day, one I look forward to tackling as I write my memoirs and mom’s story.  Speaking of future projects, one that I will be taking on now is the research into the relevance of history to a genealogist, specifically history that an ancestor lived with, and how that specific history applies to and incorporated in the narrative that accompanies the ancestor.

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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

George

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 storytellerscampfire.org, 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: http://www.gwsweb.org/GP/Stories/Audio.html

 

I recently was on “chroniclingamerica.loc.gov” 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.

The Piety of My Forefathers

I am in process of rebuilding my website and am writing about my paternal line and discernment keeps drifting through my mind.  Specifically it is an acknowledgement on my part that many of the base tenets of my life were actually present and operating in my paternal 4 times great grandfather’s life also as witnessed and noted by his grandson in the 1850s.  Without fast forwarding, these traits and beliefs seem to have been in operation throughout my paternal lineage, at least back to 1739.  I have no wonder any more of why I prefer the uncluttered, simple life and life styles.  In reflection, those times I have wandered from this are the times that life did not treat me well, or at least as well as I was expecting.  In my middle 30s, I consciously and decidedly took to answer the personal questions of “Where did I come from?”, “Where am I at?”, and “Where am I going?” that seems to direct my thinking even today, some time later.  Quoting the author’s opening paragraph of his Preface to “The Annals of the Harbaugh Family in America from 1736 to 1856” – “The annals of a family are interesting and sacred to its members alone, and a stranger doth not intermeddle therewith.  To cherish the memory of our ancestors is a plain dictate of piety.  Only those who care not for their destiny can be careless as to their origin.  He that forgets his ancestors is either stupid or wicked or both.”  I may not use the hard hitting adjectives as my ancestors did in the early decades of this country’s history, but I certainly agree with the message.

From a genealogist’s point of view, the nuggets of family history rising out of the past are a treasure to be cherished in his or her work.  That is one of the main reasons I advocate the writing of your own personal story, not for you, but for those who come after you.  Again I state why not take your place in history with your own story that most likely will become some future family researcher’s treasure.

Residual Genealogical Brick Walls

I was overhauling my website as planned when it occurred to me that I still have two genealogical brick walls requiring some major work to complete research of two family lines, namely that of Freeman Clough and Thomas Bennett.  Some 15 years ago, the information I was given included three of the difficult areas of research, but now only two remain and shall remain and are planned to be left for the next researcher.

Freeman Clough – Brick wall #1 – I was given no hint of his parentage, but this eventually was solved with use of the 1860 and 1870 Federal Census by recognizing that he and or a member of his family were either staying with his brother in Chicago.  Then the flood gates opened as his parentage and lineage was covered in a major publication by the John Clough of Salisbury, Genealogical Society.

Freeman Clough – Brick wall #2 – info that he died in Tees, Alberta on 27 March 1903 was initial data available.  Recent activity on Canada, Find-a-Grave Index indicates Freeman is buried in Tees, Alberta, Canada; however this is suspiciously information that is copied from other websites and not directly taken from the burial site.  So I consider this a brick wall at this time

Thomas Bennett – Brick wall #3 – This is not a proverbial genealogical brick wall but on line searching has not yielded sufficient information to preclude a planned research trip to the east coast for further research.  Perhaps in the distant future this will become project for me, but for the time being this is on hold.