Tuesday, 23 August 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 19

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 19: Layered Citations Work Like Layered Clothing    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 19: Layered Citations Work Like Layered Clothing,”Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation and Source Usage(https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-19-layered-citations-work-layered-clothing : acessed 17 Aug 2016).         
RE: QuickLesson 19 - Layered Citations / Penned Question
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “RE: QuickLesson 19 - Layered Citations / Penned Question,"Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation and Source Usage(https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/re-quicklesson-19-layered-citations-penned-question : accessed 17 Aug 2016). 

Using layering is becoming more important with the proliferation of digital records on numerous websites.

We need to understand the source of any information we are using to provide evidence for our assertions.

I use the website Find My Past for research and have found records of interest in the 1939 Register. On the website I can view both the transcription and a digital image. The transcription and image may not match so it is important to look at both.

I was looking for a relative Ruth Gadsby who I knew was born in 1901 and had died before the cut off date when the register ceased to be used by the NHS. She should be there so I looked for her with her birth year.

I eventually found her with a birth year of 1910.

Here is the part of the image with the entry.

It is obvious when you see the entry how the mistranscription happened. So citing that you viewed the actual image and not just the transcription is important to the accuracy of what we record.

My second example comes from Find My Past again.
Some of the images on the website are not fully indexed and do not show up in the records when you do a general search.

If I do an A-Z search of the records for Lincolnshire here is what I saw today.

One of these record sets states Lincolnshire, Parish Registers Browse 1538-1911.
Here is what I find when I filter down to the parish of Swinstead.

However this is not the only place online where I can find images of the parish registers. The website Lincs to the Past was the first host and still hosts images from the registers. If you type swinstead par1 into the search box on the website it brings up all the registers which, apart from the post 1837 marriages, are viewable on the website.

Let me compare them.

This register does not exactly match any of those record groups on the Find My Past website. They appear to have broken the register images into smaller groups.

This register has been included with part of another to cover these events from 1780 on the Find My Past website.

This book (PAR/1/3) has been combined with the later register for marriages (PAR/1/5) as a single group at Find My Past.

Only Baptisms (PAR/1/4) and Burials (PAR/1/7) have been kept as the same record group catalogued the same as the Lincolnshire Archives. The Baptisms and Burials 1765-1780 are missing from the Find My Past website but are viewable at the other website.

Citing the records viewed on the Find My Past website is going to be extremely difficult as they do not provide the necessary archive references and have not grouped the images in the same manner as the original archive.
The only way we can cite these records at Find My Past is to state the record group where we found them on the day we searched and that the original registers can be found at Lincolnshire Archives. It is unfortunate for us as researchers that we cannot use the reference used by the archive as this is likely to be useful to others should Find My Past no longer host these images.

To sum up we must be certain with our citations to record exactly what we used. Do not include archival references unless they are explicitly stated as the organisation on the website may be different.
Many websites licence the images and may only host them for a limited time so be certain to include a date accessed and as much detail as needed to be able to find that record again.
A record found on one website may appear to be the same as another, but sometimes there were more than one copy made of the original or the original may have been copied, ensure you know what you are looking at so that you can explain any differences.

Monday, 15 August 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 18

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 18: Genealogy? In the Academic World? Seriously?    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 18: Genealogy? In the Academic World?” Seriously? Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage (https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-18-genealogy-academic-world-seriously : accessed 14 August 2016).

This QuickLesson was published 9th January 2014 and the discussion of how Genealogy and Family History has been perceived by the academic world and whether it is, has or will change is not static. 

The interface between professional, academic and hobbyist in the field of genealogy can be fractious due to competing or conflicting demands. 
Conflicts due to differing perceptions do nothing but harm. 
The struggle to prove that genealogical skills need to be taught as an academic discipline when there are financial constraints and competing demands. 
Ensuring that there are standards in place and that they are observed by all involved.

Bloggers have posted about this. Thomas MacEnteeTony Proctor and more recently Amy Johnson Crow.

Whilst those who might class themselves as genealogists or family historians are possibly starting to form a more cohesive group with more online courses both paid and free (the online course run by Future Learn, created by the University of Strathclyde, last year had thousands of participants worldwide and is currently running again). 

The acceptance of genealogy as an academic discipline may not be so easy to achieve.

The skills needed to create accurate family histories are multifaceted they would ensure the graduate would have transferable skills for many occupations. 

Where many hobbyist family historians can fall down is that, whilst they may know where they obtained a piece of information, they do not always accurately record this. Sound conclusions can only be made when we take care to look at all of the information and review it with an open but critical "eye". The proliferation of inaccurate poorly documented "genealogical trees" on the internet does much to tarnish academic interests. It is in the interests of everyone that these inaccuracies are highlighted and education at all levels is paramount.

Many societies have a tradition of oral histories and until very recently "the masses" would have relied upon this. Only the elite in society could have access to, or afford, those who could write or paint. Official records only exist where law or tradition required them.
The advent of photography and other means of recording have added alternative means of passing on the information but as with any other media are prone to errors. 
Genealogists need to have the skills to know how to handle conflicts which is a skill that comes with knowledge and experience. Academia can assure that these skills are passed on by providing the education to the next generation.

This study group and others that have been hosted by DearMYRTLE, even the less formal discussions, are an ideal learning environment for all. (be they beginner or professional/ academic) 
They provide a platform for discussion and alternative ways of getting the information across to anyone and everyone.

Monday, 8 August 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 17

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 17: The Evidence Analysis Process Map    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 17: The Evidence Analysis Process Model,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage (https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-17-evidence-analysis-process-map : accessed 6 August 2016).    
Negative Findings / Negative Evidence
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “Negative Findings / Negative Evidence,"    Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage (https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/negative-findings-negative-evidence    : accessed 6 August 2016).  

Before I start any discussion on this topic I want to highlight what I consider to be the most important point from this lesson "the extent to which we understand the language and structure of evidence analysis will determine the success of our research."

This mindmap I created shows the elements of the Evidence Analysis Process Map as shown on her website. (with additions)

We have talked about how important it is to use reliable sources and to cite the sources we have used. However if we are to do this effectively we need to know what we have and what it is telling us.

We should not overlook the obvious sources such as family with firsthand knowledge, who despite memory lapses, may have more complete firsthand information than anything written on paper.

Getting as close to original records as possible can help reduce bias caused by poor transcribing. Video or sound recordings, letters, photographs and other family memorabilia can all support our family story and can help recall memories.

We may only find sources which are distant from an event, so we need to consider the relevance of this distance, upon the reliability of the information. A person may have been a firsthand witness to an event, but as the years pass their memory concerning exact details may not be the same as it would have been, if recorded close to the time of the event.

Uncertainty regarding the informant for any piece of information casts doubts on its usefulness in building a proof which is why official signed records may be considered more useful than a family legend of unknown origin.

Our interpretation of the information allows us to use it as evidence to support our conclusion.

The best way to show is by example so I am going to show someone I came across on Family Search Family Tree who has 44 sources attached. How many of these are for this person? Can we remove some as we interpret the sources.

If we look at her christening this fits with those of her siblings and is supported by this source.
The marriage as indicated would suggest that she was still in Bedfordshire when she married in 1773.

But did she really have 33 children!

If we look at the birthplaces of these children it is not until we get to Charles Wiltshire christened in 1799 that we find anyone allegedly born or christened in the county of Bedfordshire. The family could have moved elsewhere but many of these children have no source attached or only one.

In fact Charles is the only one I would consider to have a connection to this couple.

This is one of the sources attached to this person.
She was born in 1754.

Contrast this to one of my ancestors who was the son of John Wiltshire and Sarah Ingram. 

He has 27 sources attached some are duplicates many are census records almost all of the children have more than one source attached. Even those that currently have no sources have a date and place of birth consistent with them being a member of that family.

Whilst we know that families did not always remain in one place many did. We look in that area and time period first and then spread our search if records indicate or we can find no trace. 
The "scattergun" approach can be little more than speculation. Not all records are online and we need to use those that are with caution.
I have not relied on online resources alone for my research and there is a great deal that is still a work in progress.

I have only included a few screenshots here but they should be enough for you to see what I am trying to show on the tree. If you wish to see more take a look on the website. (You will need to register for a free account if you do not already have one)

To sum up if you do not understand the information in the source and how to use it you cannot build the evidence to support your family tree.