Saturday, March 22, 2014

Why it's OK to include unsourced ancestry.com family trees in your research



Here's an article that sums up my opinion on why it is okay to include unsourced family trees from ancestry.com in my research. 

Basically: "Effective family historians...exclude no potentially useful source, and they trust no unverified source." 

USUALLY people have a reason for linking people in their online family trees. Maybe the reason is illogical, ill-thought out, or otherwise erroneous. 

Well, guess what? Maybe the original records themselves have errors. Humans make so many mistakes. How is it ever really possible to come to know the truth in genealogy?

Here's how: gather many, many records. Analyze the information. Consider the informant. Correlate the evidence. Realize that it is not the number of sources that state a fact, but the quality of the sources. Are they reliable? Are you reading a transcription? Genealogical proof is about gathering many records (including original records), correlating them, citing them, and coming to a written conclusion. 

I do think it's generally better to start with original records when you can, rather than to look at others' online genealogies. You can unknowingly introduce a bias in your analysis when you see something presented as "truth." 

There is a big family reunion on my husband's side of the family in June for the Challis and Wood families. One of the nights will be a family temple trip, and some of us are working on preparing some names from these families so that we can do temple work for them. I have been working on some Northamptonshire genealogy research, and a lot of it involves rechecking others' work. 

I love all of my ancestors. What's nice about Czech in comparison to English genealogy research is that so many original records have recently been made available for free online. English records are not even close to as accessible online, but there are many, many people who have been researching in them for decades (centuries!). Basically, there has been a lot more time for people to make erroneous conclusions, and it's a lot more inconvenient for modern researchers to recheck what has been done. 

Hip hip hooray for Czech genealogy! 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Brief Overview of the Babinec project

So, you know how I mentioned that recently I've been focusing my efforts on getting my BCG portfolio prepared for submission? Well, I decided I would write about it on my blog.

One of the requirements for the BCG portfolio is that the work be completely your own; no critique, review, or help from others. The BCG wants to certify you for your own skills. It's not unlike a computer programming final exam where they expected us to not use the internet for help. In the real world, my computer programmer husband totally uses outside help. Crowd sourcing, forums, collaboration - these are just tools to solving a problem efficiently. They are also helpful in the real world of genealogy.

BUT...this isn't the "real world." This is the world of becoming certified by a world-class organization. Technically, I am allowed to publish posts on my blog that contain material that I would submit. However, when I do this, I get lots of feedback, lots of really great, helpful suggestions about what a word might actually mean, where to search next, etc. I don't want to do a ton of work and then have to not use it in my portfolio because somebody else gave me super helpful albeit unsolicited feedback. So, I've made a conscious choice to not blog the specific material that I want to submit in my portfolio.

Huh? I didn't I just say in my first paragraph that I want to write about my recent BCG portfolio efforts on this blog? Isn't that a contradiction?

Actually...no. Why? Because all that work I spent the past two months on, yeah...all that work...pretty much all of it...I decided I can't use it in my portfolio. Lots of reasons, mainly: it isn't the best display of my work. I don't have enough varied kinds of sources. I don't have enough solid evidence to "prove" my theories. It's good work, but it's not really portfolio-worthy, and sadly, it probably can't be because of the lack of available records for the village of Vlčovice. The parish registers start in 1720 and the land records start in 1764 - well, there are some Urbary records in the 1500-1650's, but they are too early. There's a 70 year gap of records.

I actually feel satisfied because I learned a lot from this experience. I was given the advice to never, never, never submit your first-ever client report in the portfolio; I suppose the same is true with the case study portion. And, even though it's not as strong as I would like, I have a case study. I gained a lot of experience with land records.

And now I have fodder for this blog for the next few weeks! So, that's good. The feedback I will get from these blog posts will help me with my BCG portfolio work.

The Babinec Project
Here's a brief summary of the project that I was working on. A friend and client's ancestors came from Mniší, Moravia. I found the marriage record for her direct line ancestor, Margaret Babinetz, in the neighboring village of Vlčovice. I wanted to trace her family back. I gathered all of the records of the Babinec/Babinetz's in that village, and figured out how they relate to each other. I gathered land records, transcribed and translated them, and was able to learn even more about the family.

Many questions and mysteries remain, and I intend to blog about them.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Stay focused, Kate!

Hey blogosphere! I haven't posted in about a week, but it's because I have actually been working on some exciting genealogy work related to my BCG application.

I have a dream of becoming a Certified Genealogist. It started over a year ago. I have been plugging along on my portfolio since the beginning of 2013.

Well, that turned out to be the year we moved from Texas to Iowa, and life got really crazy. On top of it, I decided to start taking clients. I quickly learned that I love client work. It is fun, challenging, profitable, and best of all, I feel like I am really helping others. I love that!

I don't regret starting taking clients when I did. I had no idea what it would be like, and I had serious doubts that I even could. I learned a lot about myself; how I work, what kinds of projects I enjoy, and what I want my future goals as a professional genealogist to be.

The reality of my world is that my time is scarce. If I am going to become a CG, I need to focus all of my efforts and limited genealogy time on my portfolio. I know that I will be a better professional genealogist if I obtain this credential.

I have decided to temporarily "take down my shingle" and stop taking genealogy clients until I become certified.

I have decided to continue with my blog goals, though, so stay tuned :)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Where oh where did my little George go? Oh where oh where can he be?

You marry the widow of Franciscus Babinec who has 9 children in 1745. You have one child with your wife in 1747, and no others (probably because she is getting on in years and no longer in a fertile stage of life).

In 1755, your wife predeceases you. 5 of her children from her first marriage are still living and they are Veronica (32), Magdalena (30), Joannes (28), Rosina (25), and Jacobus (10). Your son Ignatius was 8.

Where do you go? What do you do with your life?

In 1787, the house transfers to Joannes, the son of Franciscus Babinec. All of the children (plus one who is probably a cousin) are enumerated in the exact order of age in this land record. Their marital status, spouse, and residence locations are listed. For example, Ignatius is recorded as being in the army.

But there isn't information about you, Mr. George Kladiva. What happened to you? Did you remarry? Did you stick around this place? Did you leave the older children to care for the younger ones? Were they already apprentices? Did you return to your village of origin? Did you die around the same time as your wife and never get enumerated on the parish registers? Did you move to a neighboring town and remarry?

There is a Georgius Kladiva, son of Ignatius Kladiva, in the neighboring village. But it appears he dies in 1790 at the age of 36, which means he would have been born the year before your wife died; wrong generation. Maybe Ignatius Kladiva had a brother named Georgius, and they both named their kids after each other?

Still...what happens to you? And why 1787? Usually these land transfers seem to occur when somebody dies or marries into the family, or some crazy political thing happens. They certainly aren't random, at least usually. Hmm.

I'm not sure what to do about you. I can't find you at all.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March Blog Goals

Here's my very meta-blogging post for you that is probably not going to be that interesting. I apologize in advance.

Here are my blog/research goals for March:
  • Blog every day!
  • Answer at least 5 genealogy related emails every day! I am so backed up! I really apologize, blah blah blah. Seriously though. I feel embarrassed at how I look at my inbox overflowing with emails, and instead of answering them, I sigh and go do something else because the task feels too daunting. Of course, this does nothing to improve the situation. So 5/day is my goal! I think I can manage that.
  • Completely finish my Case Study for my BCG application.
  • I will also figure out all (er, well, yeah) the people for my Kinship Determination Project and start on ordering films that will be required for completing a reasonably exhaustive search.
  • By the end of March, I will be 7 blog posts ahead. And my April goal will be to maintain that 7 post buffer between me and the Looming Deadline.