Last Wednesday I did my first volunteer shift at my local Historical and Genealogical Society. Interesting. I spent a good amount of time in conversation with the Society’s curator and Vice President. Very enlightening. It appears that they have a lot of records and documentations that have never been digitized nor indexed. From a genealogical perspective it appears that there is a lot of really great things that can be done. I’ll be very interested to see what may have been done in the past and what might be done in the future. It appears to me that they may have many newspapers. Stacks and racks of them from many years ago. Certainly, it seems to me that if we could capture images of the births, marriages, & obituaries we’d have a place to start from. Anyone have ideas about what might be a good way to begin?
As I progress in my Genealogy practices I’ve come to realize that I need to use a system to determine the validity of data in my systems. I’m not really happy with the one that comes with my software and was looking for a definitive methodology to grade sources. For example, I find that death certificates are generally poor in assuring the year someone was born. Census records when a person is typically better and draft registrations are probably the most accurate.
When I saw one of the videos from the 2012 RootsTech Conference dealt with “Reputations Systems for Genealogy“I was really excited. Hopefully, the video would give me some great ideas about how to quantify the reputation of various sites and sources.
As you can probably tell from my tone so far, I was disappointed. For nearly the first 20 minutes he points out the reputation features of Amazon eBay, and StackOverflow.com. Then he launches into walk-through of the Yahoo Design Pattern Library. Finally, 51 minutes into the 62 minute talk he finally starts to talk about reputation characteristics of genealogy sites. It was a lot of background for little substance.
At that point he shows new.familysearch.org, which is really a bummer because it isn’t available to the general public. He show how little the site has on reputation of data and provides his recommendations on what it should have. I think it is in bad taste for a Family Search employee to present thing he’d like to see in a Family Search product (even though it isn’t available to the general public). The sad thing is that that the director of development for that product also presented at the conference. Anyway, he does talk briefly about the reputation elements shown on Geni, Fold3, and Ancestry.
The presenter sounded like he was reading from a script; he had little energy and was not entertaining. All-in-all it was one of the worst presentations I’ve seen from the RootsTech Videos. I’d pass on this video.
I have been waiting with anticipation for several months for the results of my autosomal DNA testing from Ancestry and finally received them. The key component they report is about your Genetic Ethnicity. No surprise, the results show I am 75% from the British Isles (Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales), It also indicated that for 5% my ethnicity is uncertain. They also mention that as their genetic signatures improve over time it may provide details. We have long thought that my 3rd great grandmother was Cherokee and the test didn’t prove or disprove it as the 2-3% DNA I received from her is within that 5% uncertain.
Of particular interest further the test results give interesting links to “cousins.” I didn’t have any close cousins but there are 8 genetic 4th – 6th cousins. That is fairly distant but does provide a starting point for some additional research. A quick first look didn’t illuminate any common ancestors but there were several who didn’t have shared trees that I’ll have to contact.
Besides just the contacts the results on Ancestry it provides a common name list. Wherein it displays last names which are common between our trees. It also has a location tab which shows locations that are common between our trees. That may prove even more interesting for research possibilities For example one of my cousins didn’t appear to have any names in common with me, but we both have ancestors born in Carter County, Kentucky. The individual may have additional details and research that I may find relevant.
Of course, I’m looking forward to many more people taking the test which should, hopefully, provide a link to someone a bit closer than 4th cousin. Anyway, it is a great new tool. For those who are Ancestry members the test is only $99.
More on the Roots Tech videos:
The Roots Tech 2012 video presentations are, for the most part, wonderful and the presentation by Ron Tanner was among the best. It was very informative and Ron is extremely entertaining and engaging. He says he’s “crazy” but from what I saw his really isn’t “crazy” but rather, his is excited about his work and what FamilySearch is doing in the future. FamilySearch Family Tree have some amazing things planned, ways in which collaboration in family tree can be much easier and still maintain accountability if/when someone changes something in a tree. The changes planned really have the potential to revolutionize collaboration. Some changes may not be implemented until the end of the year but the new family tree capabilities appear to be very desirable. I’m looking forward to the new features.
Family Search is one of my top sites and their improvements might move it to the top.
See: Videos Schedule | RootsTech.org:
Then select: “Saturday, 11:00 AM
Future of FamilySearch Family Tree
By Ron Tanner”
I ran into a great site as part of the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives at
Department of Confederate Pensions (1912 – 1946). More than just the application for pension, it also contains supporting documentation. In the case of an ancestor that I was looking at, not only did the site have his application, it had confirmation regarding his muster dates, that he was wounded twice during the war. It also included his death certificate and some follow-up documentation (handwritten letters) about where to send his final payment – to a daughter who was going by a first name I hadn’t know beforehand.
Kentucky didn’t pass the Confederate Pension act until 1912, so the veteran had to live 47 years after the war (into the individual’s late 60’s or older) and needed to have remained in Kentucky.
A great feature is that you can search and display applications by county, so I could look at all of the applications from folks in Morgan county at once.