Thursday, 31 March 2016

My Colourful Ancestry

These two images were created using Family Historian for the recent genealogy craze this Easter

This is the one for my husband

This is mine

I may add a chart to include all the main events birth, marriage and death at a later date but for the time being these show the birth counties in England.

Monday, 28 March 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 3

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 3: Flawed Records    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 3: Flawed Records,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 27 March 2016)

For this lesson I want to look at 2 items that have been digitized pertaining to the birth of my great grandfather.

The first item refers to baptisms for children at St Josephs Church in Southampton and the second is a copy birth certificate for one of the children mentioned in the letter.

Apart from the fact that neither of these are original records there is a difference of dates. Had I not had a copy of the letter I would not have been aware of the possibility that the date of birth could be anything other than that recorded on the official birth certificate.

Thorough research including records made independent of each other can lead us to question even the records we would consider to be accurate.

When I looked at these I had to consider why would the birth certificate have the baptism date recorded as the date of birth. Had his mother got confused with the dates and given the baptism date. The date the birth was registered was more than 2 months after the date in the letter and almost a month after the baptism.

This birth was registered prior to 1875, at which time the Births and Deaths Act 1874 imposed a duty upon those present at a birth to report it to the registrar, so his parents were only legally obliged to inform a registrar if it was demanded by the registrar (1). Many were not aware of the law or thought that a baptism was an alternative to registration. This situation may be what happened with another ancestor whose birth appears to have taken place in 1845. I have found a baptism, but unless she was registered under an alternative name, I can find no trace in the index for the district.
If the birth had taken place after 1875 then the parents would have been fined for a registration later than 42 days after the birth (1). 
I will need to search the newspapers of the time to see if this stipulation could have been common knowledge as early as 1868. 
I have looked for school records to try and confirm the date of birth. I have not found any for him yet. Given that the baptism date and the date of birth on the certificate are the same it may just be a case of mistake. 
The earlier date is my "current thinking" and is a reasonable choice unless I find something to contradict this. I have other records which would indicate a year of birth such as census, marriage and death certificates, but these do not state an exact date, and would be considered to have been recorded at later dates than the 2 documents I have discussed. 
He died in 1940 so the 1939 Register recently released on Find My Past, could be a source of information, this has recorded full dates of birth for individuals. However having found him he is listed as incapacitated. Given his cause of death he would not have been a reliable witness for the date of birth he had been using, all that it lists is an age and year of birth. 
Employment records may be another source for the date of birth. He worked for a shipping company who may have records. The Clyde Shipping company has become Clyde Maritime and I found a genealogy section on their forum. 

This discussion and reading the QuickLesson has led me to create this graphic

If we are going to carry out thorough research and analysis of that research we must first understand the context in which a record was created and any peculiarities which may affect how we perceive what we find. This requires a knowledge which we may not have unless we educate ourselves.
We all learn in different ways and watching and participating in this type of study group is a great way to share and highlight possible problems or ways of tackling problems.

Brickwalls can fall when we know our weaknesses and where we may have missed something. Collaboration and friendly discussion can help us all become better at what we love doing.

(1) Herber, Mark D. Ancestral trails : the complete guide to British genealogy and family history. Stroud: Sutton, 2004. p55

Sunday, 20 March 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 2

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 2: Sources vs. Information vs. Evidence vs. Proof    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 2: Sources vs. Information vs. Evidence vs. Proof,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 18 March 2016).

Only this last week in the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) I have been part of we were discussing Primary and Secondary sources. Primary being original, contemporary records and Secondary being hearsay and writings of others. However this classification may not truly reflect the nature of the source.
Within a document information may exist which is first hand knowledge alongside other second hand or hearsay. Each piece of information and the assertion or claim that is made must be evaluated for its ability to be used as evidence supporting a proof.
A strong proof is only as good as the building blocks, that is the evidence, that is used in its construction.

In my example from Lesson 1 I had a person who I had gathered some information about and whom I suspected would be someone listed in the 1939 register. I set out with the intention of finding her to support the theory that she was still alive in 1939. If I found her I might also be able to ascertain more information about where she was living her date of birth and possibly who was living with her.

Using the diagram above let us see what I have here.
Source = Find my Past Website Index and scanned images of pages of the 1939 Register with some redaction.

Evaluation = Original page as digital image, Index is a derivative created recently

Information = Other than the address in 1939 the name, occupation and date of birth in the register are reliant on the veracity of the person giving the information, which should generally be the individual or a close relative, though it could be someone unrelated. The information about the date of birth cannot be primary as it is being recorded sometime after the date.

Evidence = Whilst the information in the digital images can be used to form part of a proof none of it can be considered to be more than an assertion. We have no means of determining the absolute truth.
Assertions from other sources may be combined with the ones from this source to build what we may call our current hypothesis, proof or conclusion. 
Conflicting information should not be ignored but discussed in a proof statement or argument.

In discovering the correct person in the register the analysis of the information supports what is already known. 
The conclusions drawn should meet the genealogical proof standard. Should further research be needed, collecting the evidence together will allow us to interpret what we may need to find, to meet the requirement of thorough research.

Whilst I endeavour to look at everything I find I may have not always been diligent. 
Evidentia can help with this analysis and as I work through rebuilding my tree I will be using it to assist with building the evidence into a strong proof. It will at least provide me with some idea as to where the evidence is weak or if I need to look for more information.

At each stage of processing a source and its contents we need to decide whether what we find is convincing, or may contain an error, and these considerations must be included in any discussion of the evidence we are using to support our conclusion.

Nothing is absolute anything can contain an error which is why no single piece of evidence is enough to support our conclusions.

Monday, 14 March 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 1

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 1: Analysis & Citation
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 1: Analysis and Citation,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage( :  accessed 14 March 2016).    

Do you look at what you already know each time before you carry out a piece of research? 
Or are you, like many of us today, seeing a new database available at your favourite website anxious to try it out.

If you have not made a plan before you start to research you can easily fall in to the trap that many researchers discover that you take the first thing you find.

Only yesterday, I decided to look for an aunt of my mother in the 1939 register at Find My Past.

I entered her first and last names and year of birth and the town where I thought she was living. One result appeared which looked reasonable so I linked the record to my tree.

However I did not leave it at that as there was another person in the household who appeared to be her son.

As I continued my analysis of this record I knew it was not the person I was looking for, the year of birth for the son was 1923, my mother's uncle had died in 1918 whilst his wife was expecting their third child.

So I went back and did another search and this time I found her using her first name and middle initial. To further confirm that I had the correct person she was still living at the same address I had written on a letter years earlier.

How can any of us be sure we have found the correct source for our information if we do not analyse the information we find in the source.

We cannot return to that source later if we do not create a citation. 
By understanding each source we use and its importance in the inferences that we make we do not put undue preference onto one particular source.

My analyse of the information I found in the 1939 register alongside information I had gathered from other sources helped me to determine which was the most credible information within the 1939 register as a source.

My citation for what I have found will be to the second page, not the first one, the analysis of the information supporting its use as evidence of exact date of birth, residence in 1939, name in 1939 and occupation. I can also state who she was living with if they are not redacted. 
Were I only to cite this as being found in the 1939 register without including full details of the page then anyone wishing to follow my research may erroneously find the other person. 
So even if you do not get all the punctuation correct make sure you collect all the information so that anyone can find that record within the source again and decide whether they agree with your conclusion or "current thinking".

So each time you go to research remember this picture.