Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Data Mining in User Pages on Genealogy.com

Did you know that thousands of genealogists have submitted data in the form of genealogy reports to the Users pages at www.genealogy.com?

Including me! You can visit my genealogy page here. Down at the bottom of my home page there are links to 19 different genealogy reports on my site about my ancestry and Linda's ancestry. For example, you can see one of the reports here - the Ancestry of my 3rd Great-grandfather, Benjamin Seaver (1791-1825).

Genealogy.com has provided a search tool to use to help you find other people who may have your ancestor in their genealogy reports. Here are the steps to take to find them - unfortunately, they didn't make this easy!

1) On the Genealogy.com home page, enter a given name and a surname in the boxes at the top of the pages. As an example, enter the name "Norman" in the given name box and "Seaver" in the surname box, and click on the [Search!] button.

2) The search engine scans the holdings at www.genealogy.com and shows you a list of hits in a number of different categories. Unfortunately, most of these are inside the paid subscription databases. There are two that are not - the "Family Home Pages" and the "GenForum Message Boards." For "Norman Seaver" there are 3 matches for Family Home Pages that contain that name. Click on "3 Matches" next to "Family Home Pages."

3) A page with links to the 3 Family Home Pages comes up. Select the 3rd one down by clicking on the Title.

4) A page which is part of the "Descendants of Samuel and Elizabeth (Leatherhead) Cutter" should come up. The name "Norman Seaver" is somewhere on this page. Use the [Edit} {Find] buttons and enter "Seaver" and click on [Find Next]. It takes you to Sally Seaver, the daughter of Norman Seaver and Eunice Reed, who married a Josiah Cutter.

5) This web page is page 31 out of 475. The author has posted quite a bit of information on this family line from the immigrants. At the top of this web page are some links for [Next Page], [Prev Page], [Home Page], etc. If you click on [Prev Page] or [Next Page] you can continue reading the book. If you click on [Home Page] you will see the introduction to the web page of Dennis Cutter. If you click on [Go To Page] you can select a page in the report to go to directly rather than step through page-by-page.

The reason I chose Norman Seaver as the search topic was to point out the flaw in the Search system at this web site. It will find people in reports submitted by people that have the URL www.FamilyTreeMaker.com/users/ but not reports submitted to the URL www.genealogy.com/users/. I know this because it didn't find MY Norman Seaver on my web page, who is in the "Ancestors of Benjamin Seaver" report.

The way around this flaw in their search system is to use Google. If I Google the names "Norman Seaver" and "Sarah Read" then my web page is in the short list of hits (it's short because I forced "Norman" and "Seaver", and "Sarah" and "Read", to be together rather than just on the same web page).

This is a useful web site to mine for user submitted data, but it does have the flaw noted above. As always, the searcher needs to beware that all the data found on sites like this may not be correct; as an example, the entry for Sally Seaver said her mother was Eunice Reed, while my data (which I am sure is correct) says she was "Sarah Read."

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