Sunday, 22 October 2017

Yes! Another Chance to win a free RootsTech pass

As a RootsTech 2018 Ambassador, I can give away ONE complimentary RootsTech 2018 4-day pass ($279 value). If you win and have already registered for the conference, your registration fee will be refunded.

The conference will take place in Salt Lake City from 28 February to 3 March. The pass gives access to

Over 300 classes

Keynote / General sessions

RootsTech classes

Innovation Showcase

Expo hall

Evening events

This 4-Day Pass DOES NOT include airfare, hotel or the coverage of any other expenses.

To be in with a chance of winning, and in keeping with the theme of the conference, please complete this form. It includes a space to add a short paragraph, (it need only be a sentence), saying in your own words, how genealogy can make you feel more connected, and that you belong.

Please be aware that I may quote you (with attribution) in future posts about RootsTech 2018.

Good Luck.

I myself won a registration 3 years ago and was so glad that I entered and made the trip.

All entries received by the closing date of 12 noon, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) on Monday 6th of November, will go into a draw and one lucky person will win the RootsTech pass.

The winner will be notified by email by Thursday 9th of November at the latest. One entry per person.

Disclaimer: As a Rootstech Ambassador I receive complimentary admission to the event, invitations to some extra events and dinners and a free registration to give to one of my readers. I bear the cost of my return airfares from Wales and pay for my accommodation and meals.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

GenDoc Study Group 2


Thomas​ ​W.​ ​Jones,​ ​​Mastering​ ​Genealogical​ ​Documentation​,​ ​(Arlington,​ ​Virginia:​ ​National
Genealogical​ ​Society,​ ​2017.)​ ​Softbound​ ​available​ ​from​ ​the​ ​publisher’s​ ​website
​ ​Kindle​ ​format​ ​at​ ​Amazon​ ​here:
Hilary​ ​Gadsby
Chapter​ ​2
“​Noncitation Aspects​ ​of​ ​Genealogical​ ​Documentation”
As​ ​a​ ​study​ ​group​ ​panelist​ ​I​ ​have​ ​been​ ​asked​ ​to​ ​write​ ​about​ ​a​ ​part​ ​of
the​ ​chapter​ ​that​ ​speaks​ ​to​ ​me.  

What documentation is required other than citing sources.

So you have a citation for your source but is that enough? The answer is a simple No.
So what else should we document?
We could document everything.
Whilst it is unlikely that any researcher would do so this could create a lengthy discussion of an entire research process.

We need to provide a conclusion and support it with adequate explanation and attributions.

​We​ ​must​ ​explain​ ​the​ ​quality​ ​of​ ​the​ ​information,​ ​demonstrate​ ​that​ ​we​ ​understand
the​ ​sources​ ​we​ ​have​ ​used​ ​and​ ​the​ ​particular​ ​qualities​ ​of​ ​each​ ​source,​ ​which​ ​may then ​affect​ ​how we​ ​weight​ ​its​ ​relevance​ ​and​ ​reliability.

Whilst an individual may have a good knowledge of a particular field the audience may not.
If we fail to provide appropriate discussion by omission we can cloud our readers appreciation of our work.

The format in which our conclusion and supporting documents are presented is important. Footnotes are preferable but it may be appropriate to use alternatives.

How we incorporate our citations in to our written conclusions is as important as creating an accurate citation.

In my post last week I showed a single family in a diagram but I did not provide any source information for the marriage births or deaths in that diagram. I have been trying to decide how to best add the citations.
The chapter this week uses annotations in a diagram as an example of a different way to add citations so as not to confuse citation annotation with dates. I want to show how I can do this.

The diagram boxes (which can be viewed by clicking on an individual or a circle) have been annotated with superscript letters which I will link to elsewhere within the blog so that the source citations and any discussion in the written conclusion will not distract the reader.
Joseph Buckle KDQQ-6RT (1868–1940) Elizabeth Ann Witt LZLT-ZYL (1870–1937) Henry Joseph Buckle LRMP-M77 (1895–1895) Albert Edward Victor Buckle K1DC-9CS (1902–1985) Leonard William Henry Buckle L8R4-687 (1907–1977)

Sunday, 10 September 2017

GenDoc Study Group 1


Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Documentation, (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2017.) Softbound available from the publisher’s website

Hilary Gadsby

Chapter 1
“The Purpose and Nature of Genealogical Documentation”
As a study group panelist I have been asked to write about a part of the chapter that speaks to me.
Why do we need to document what we do?
We spend many hours searching for the answers. We discover information in various ways. We may find direct answers or have to pull information from several places before we can draw any conclusions.

If all that you record is a conclusion how will anyone know how you reached that conclusion. If you need to look at a record again would you know where to find it?

We often find sources may contradict or provide incomplete information. This may require a rethink of our conclusion.

When the source of information is recorded as fully as possible it can add weight to any discussion that may be included with the conclusion.

The type of source and how it is presented can have a bearing on its reliability.

For example a clear digital image of an original document which was recorded at or close to the time of an event by an official or first hand witness will be a much better source than a smudged microform record which could be a transcript of the original.

Why is it important how we document our research?
Citation helps you understand your source
Citation shows what supports your conclusion
Citation allows for repeat evaluation
Citation prevents accidentally plagiarising

Poor documentation can hide both good and bad research. By providing good documentation any gaps or misinterpretation of the sources can be revealed.

We can better understand whether we will meet the standards expected of competent researchers if we cite what we use.

It may be years before we can reach a conclusion. We need to be able to look back at our research and review before we repeat rather than further our investigations. With experience comes a greater understanding.

My aunt told me that there was a child that died young.
I included this piece of information as an interview with her before she died in 2003 (Being a novice then I forgot to record the exact date and I know I visited more than once). I can document this now but not as well as if I had recorded the date of the interview.
I have entered information here  Story on Family Search Family Tree.
Fourteen years after her death I finally find documents to support this.
Joseph Buckle (1868–1940) Elizabeth Ann Witt (1870–1937) Albert Edward Victor Buckle (1902–1985) Leonard William Henry Buckle (1907–1977) Henry Joseph Buckle (1895–1895)

Then I searched for more information and found it in a newspaper.

Premature Birth The Hampshire Advertiser August 28 1895 Page 2 Column 6 Paragraph 4

"Premature Birth,"  28 August 1895, p. 2, col. 6; digital images, Find My Past ( : accessed 9 Sep 2017), British Newspaper Archive. Cit. Date: 9 Sep 2017.  

Research is a process and like making a cake if you avoid adding an ingredient (don’t write a citation) the final result may not be what you expect.

Crafting a citation is an important step in communicating your understanding of your source. When we were discussing  ESM Quicklessons I compared some certificates in my possession. This illustrates that just citing as a birth, death or marriage certificate was not enough and to understand fully what we have used we need to know more about the qualities of the source.
To take this further look at the second image. I can now compare this to a digital image of the parish register.
The transcription can be found on Find My Past website. But this does not reveal the names of any witness to the event who could be a family member. They do however have digital images as shown below.
Here is Robert Rosling on the Family Search Family Tree.

The digital image above actually shows the witnesses and reveals the transcription error made at either the register office in Oakham or when recording in the register held at the register office. I had tried accessing the parish register entry on microfiche held at the Rutland Museum in Oakham but the entry on the microfiche was unreadable.

I have not added any citations to most of the above. The newspaper citation was created using a Legacy template. There are not templates available for every record I want to cite so I need to craft my own and I hope that studying this book will help it become second nature. When we have finished I am going to add citations as footnotes on this entry.
For those that like templates beware I found an error in the Legacy template for the 1911 census for England and Wales which I reported and they said would be fixed. I have not checked whether this has been done yet. So if you find something in a template that does not fit or appears to be missing report it to the software development team.

I have used 2 ways of showing family relationships in this post which one do you find illustrates the best. The diagram or the link to Family Search Family Tree.

Monday, 26 September 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 21 and Writing Historical Biography

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 21: Citing DNA Evidence: Five Ground Rules    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 21: Citing DNA Evidence: Five Ground Rules,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 24 Sept 2016).     
Writing Historical Biography
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “Writing Historical Biography," Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 24 Sept 2016).

Welcome to my final blogpost for this study group.

I looked at these topics and thought how can I relate these to my own research. I have not done any genetic testing of either myself or any close relatives and I have not as yet attempted to write a historical biography.

So I cannot write from experience but I can say what I understand and how I would approach this.

ESM mentions "five basic ground rules"

Evidence versus citation

All we do when we write a citation is identify our source. In relation to DNA results these will have been analysed and presented in a particular format we cite how they have been presented to us (what we see). 

DNA is evidence

We take information we find in our source and use what it is telling us in building the evidence supporting or refuting our assertion. The same as any other source.

Citation to support an assertion

The information may need further analysis, to provide us with the evidence to support or refute an assertion that X is related to Y, but this is what we can add to our dicussion rather than a citation. Whatever the outcome of the discussion citing the source will not change.

What are you citing?

How has the result of the test been communicated to you. Have you been presented with a comparison to others held in a database?

You may need to explain what you are citing

Some citations are in need of explanation it may not simply be a case of including a name and date. We include sufficient information to clarify any specific item of interest.

The only thing I will add here as I have no specific example is that when we are dealing with genetics we are using information from living or sometimes recently deceased individuals. Given that even if an individual is now deceased they may still have close living relations we need to ensure we follow the guidelines. Elizabeth Shown Mills has a number of publications available including one on genetic sources and there is information available on the website for International Society of Genetic Genealogy.

Historical Biography

Whilst I have not as yet written any biography be it my own or anyone in my family I have used some of the records suggested.
If we wish to present an interesting picture of our family to others, be they family or friends, then we need to include more than a list of dry facts and possibly a few photographs. Technology may allow us to present things in a more interactive manner but first we need to find the information.
Census information, certificates, church registers tell us who was related to whom and when births, marriages and deaths may have occurred but they tell us little about how our family lived and interacted with others in their community. It is likely that our own lives have changed considerably over our lifetime and the same is likely true for our ancestors.
Whilst we may not have met someone we may still be able to build up some kind of picture of the life he may have lead.

I will show you an example from the half brother of my great grandfather Rowland Curtis.
We find his memorial at Find A Grave in Warminster.
This is incomplete and tells little about who he was and the family he had and any struggles he may have faced. He is recorded in the Family Search Family Tree with the currently available documents.

I have not included what I have found in the newspapers and books about Warminster.
It appears that this family were mentioned in the newspapers on several occasions.
The local newspaper is The Warminster and Westbury Journal and a search at Find My Past in the British Newspaper Archive returns several results.
They even made a national paper known as Lloyds News. The local paper included a copy of the original but unfortunately without the photograph.

"London Interviewer's Visit to Warminster," The Warminster and Westbury Journal, 28 March 1908, p. 6 col 3;digital images, Find My ( : accessed 26 Sept 2016), British Newspaper Archive Collection.

So what do I need to do with this information? 
What else do I need to look for and how can I get this in to a format that the family will find interesting? 
I have found a photograph of the family in a copyrighted book page 112. There are also photographs of another family member on pages 58 and 59 in the same book. Danny Howell. Yesterday's Warminster (Buckingham, England: Barracuda Books Limited, 1987)

I am using Twile to collaborate with the family and I am going to add these to the website to help the family know more about who these people were and how they lived. I am always looking for more information and because it is a private website copyright issues may be less of an issue.  
I can share more in a private invitation only area than on public trees and I hope that it will be able to connect to my blogs and other sites to avoid duplication. The timelines and maps along with historical information can really bring our own history in to context.
There are plans for Twile to connect with Family Search but I will tackle any issues, I might have, if they become a problem. 

Like many I have gathered the information to write more about my ancestors but have rarely pulled it together to create something more this is something I hope to do on my family blog, maybe I should start with Rowland Curtis, but hey I have already started.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 20

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 20: Research Reports for Research Success
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 20: Research Reports for Research Success," Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage (  :  accessed 17 Sept 2016).

This week we will be discussing the research process.

How do we do our research?

How should we do our research?

Can we improve how we research?

With the growth of the internet how many of us can find ourselves joining in with the quick click genealogy we frequently criticise.

Why do we criticise this way of doing things?

  1. Insufficient preparation
  2. Poorly recorded
  3. Insufficient analysis
So what should we be doing?
Ask yourself these questions.
  1. What do I want to find?
  2. Where should I be doing my research?
  3. How am I going to do the research?
  4. How am I going to record what I find?
  5. How am I going to review what I find?
We can use pen and paper or our computers to assist in these tasks.

We know how to interrogate the databases online and how to enter our results in our software program. There is plenty of information to tell us how to do this either digital or paper.

Do any programs tell us what we need to look for?

Do any programs tell us whether what we find is relevant?

Poor preparation and lack of analysis can lead to hours of wasted research.

How can we know what we need to find if we have not analysed what we already know.

Creating a research plan will be the best thing you do. It will keep you on track. 

If we wish to move on from being just "information gatherers and processors" as ESM states in this lesson we must consider how we approach our work.

This weekend I came across an individual who had been recorded by another researcher in the Wiki Tree website with the maiden name of ROSLING. However this was not the surname for the parents. The link to the 1911 census revealed that she was recorded as their adopted daughter. There was also a link to an army record showing her date of birth in keeping with the census record.
I am researching the surname ROSLING and was interested in knowing where she fitted in the lineage I am constructing.
If I just entered her name in a search would I find anything and how would I know if what I found was relevant.

Experienced researchers will often know exactly where to research and which records may help them find what is available. This does not preclude them from the planning stages but it may reduce the time needed to formulate the plan. Even the experts find themselves stumped occasionally and have to consider alternative strategies. Researching in a new area be it geographical or an unfamiliar set of records may require a different skill set and a whole new learning experience. If we are to complete a thorough research we have to be aware of the resources available. 

Even the best plans may need to be altered in the light of new information. Being prepared and analysing what has been found may alter our focus or the manner in which we carry out our research.
The ability to plan and analyse helps us make better use of the research time.

Complex questions may only be answered if we look at all the information we have and understand what it's telling us. 
Some researchers have found that a program such as Evidentia can help them formulate a plan for these complex problems. By entering each piece of information deciding what it is saying and importantly how reliable that information may be we have a clearer understanding of what we already know. 
The source of any information may be flawed. Awareness of the reliability and being able to resolve conflicting information are analysis skills that may only come threw experience and education. 
Learning from others and sharing personal experience helps each of us become better researchers by improving the knowledge base.

Do we read any accompanying information about a record group that we find online before we enter a name in the search box. If not, why not, surely we need to know if the record will be likely to provide us with the information we need before we search. Would you travel miles to an archive or cemetery without checking that they have what you are looking for first. The same should be true for online records. Finding information and blindly entering it into a database is as boring and pointless as writing lines was as a school punishment. If you want the reward of finding that elusive connection you need to spend time preparing and analysing, formulate a plan, familiarise yourself with what may be available, pinpoint the best way to approach the task and adapt the plan as and when more information is discovered. Not forgetting that negative results do not mean negative evidence, it may be that any record has just not survived.

As we near the end of this study group, we need to pull together all that we have discussed.

I am writing about my research mentioned above on my One Name Study blog. I have not included specific examples this week as I believe that this lesson is more about understanding the process and the importance of doing this well. 
Only we as individuals know whether we have been disciplined in the past.
Hopefully our discussions may have helped at least one of those watching to become researchers rather than gatherer/processors.

Researching when few records or indexes were available online and internet access was expensive.  
I was not aware of research plans so I would go armed with notes that I had made to guide my research. 
Whilst looking for ancestors in the BMD indexes on microfiche I would have a name, range of years, and geographical area. When I found a possible candidate I would record and order a certificate. 
The only way I could access the census was using indexes and then when I could get to the local archive I would have to scroll through the microfilm to find what I wanted. 
The internet has made finding many records easier but has it also created a group of individuals who may believe the adverts that show families building trees using only the online website. 
No website will ever contain all the records and whilst the records support our research they are not the researcher. 
Who pieces together which record is relevant to each individual, who is related to who and how are all these individuals related, it is us as researchers who analyse the information and decide its relevance.

The reporting suggested by Elizabeth Shown Mills may sound quite prescriptive and academic and unless you have an academic background you may switch off at the thought of report writing. However what she is saying is this. 

  1. Compile your findings complete with the information needed to find them again. 
  2. Collect them together in a manner that you are comfortable working with or that fits with your findings.
  3. Summarize what you have found.
  4. Decide whether you have answered your research question.
  5. Decide whether you need to do more research and create a new research plan.
  6. Make a conclusion and write a reasoned report to support this.
Personally I would say that Evidentia will help you do all of these in a guided way.

Finally here is a link to a Google Sheet I created called The Family History Research Process. It contains links to documents that others may find useful. Please add your comments if you think I may have missed something useful that could be added.