Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Genealogy Trading Cards

It's Saturday Night - time for some Genealogy Fun! Each week, a number of devoted Genea-Musings readers accept a Mission Possible - if they choose to. We have had over 60 entries some weeks!

For this weeks challenge, please go read Sheri Fenley's blog (The Educated Genealogist) post Trading Cards, Get Your Trading Cards and then:

1) Make your own Trading Card(s) on . It's easy to do, but you need a head shot photo of your subject.

2) Post your Trading Card on your web site, your blog, or on your Facebook account (or some other account where you can upload a JPG file).

3) Can you think of other uses for these trading cards? If so, tell us about it!

Thank you, Sheri, for the idea! I was dead in the water on Friday night!

Here's mine:

My idea for the Trading Cards: A collection of these cards could be Christmas gifts for family members and friends - with brief highlights of the past year.

The squeaking wheel gets ...

I posted Six weeks and counting ... yesterday because I could not think of something else to post, so I whined that had not put my corrections to an 1870 US Census entry into their index yet.

Voila! This morning my email inbox showed five messages from like this one:

I submitted corrections for five persons, and received five emails. I believe that this is just a coincidence that I squeaked yesterday and the action was taken yesterday. Good timing, I think!

What about the index? I checked the 1870 US Census for Henry A. Carringer and yep, he's there - as are the rest of his family.

We'll be home tonight... check for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun at around 1 p.m. PDT.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Six weeks and counting...

I posted Making Index Updates on 30 July 2009 to demonstrate the new Record Image page viewer (with the index and source citation panels) for selected census databases.

I used my D.J. Carringer family as the example, because they had been indexed on (and also on FamilySearch Record Search) with the surname CURRENT. In my post, I showed the steps to make an update to the Index.

In my post, I wondered how long the update to the index would take to be seen. It has been six weeks, and my updates to the CURRENT family have not been made yet to the index. If you go to the census page, the updated surname is shown in the index list at the bottom of the screen.

Before changed the 1870 US census index entries (to use the LDS FamilySearch index, as I recall), this family was indexed by Ancestry (and HeritageQuestOnline) as CARENNGTR, which is pretty much how I read the census record - but I can understand how an indexer would think that it was CURRENGTR or CURENNGTR.

I wonder why my updates to this 1870 census entry have not made it into the index yet? At the FGS Blogger forum that hosted, they said that they were averaging 111,000 updates per day - up from the pre-August average of 26,000. So maybe it is just a backlog of update information that is delaying my own update from appearing in the index. Inquiring minds want to know if this is going to become the norm for Ancestry database index updates?

I guess I need to become Mr. Patient, eh? LOL. Right!

I'm still on vacation - home on Saturday. Check Saturday after 12 noon PDT for this week's SNGF - Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Download record images ... don't link to them

One of the major issues facing genealogy researchers is how to effectively capture, save and use images of genealogy records that pertain to our ancestors. has made it very easy for researchers with an subscription to attach a link to record images to persons in an Member Tree. However, there are two problems with this seductive and easy task:

1) The "attached" (really "linked") record images do not download to a family tree program, even to's Family Tree Maker 2010.

2) If access to a record database is removed from the website, then the "linked" record images are not available to users.

The latter instance is what has happened to thousands of subscribers that "captured" images from the Drouin Collection of Quebec baptisms, marriages and burials - the database was recently removed from access by as a result of a court order - see Lorine Schulze's blog post Ancestry in arbitration over the Drouin Collection for details. Consequently, the "linked" images in Ancestry Member Trees disappeared from the user databases - because there were only links to the images, not saved images attached to persons (like family photos are uploaded and attached).

The latest versions of Family Tree Maker 2010 permit the subscribed user to download their Ancestry Member Tree from, including all of the images and other media uploaded by the user, but not the record images "attached" ("linked") by the user to their tree directly from databases. However, the subscribed user can upload a new Member Tree to from within FTM 2010 that includes all images and media that the user attached to their FTM 2010 tree from files on their computer.

What should a genealogy researcher do in order to prevent "record image loss" due to either scenario? My "best practice" recommendations include:

1) Download and save to your computer hard drive any record images that pertain to persons in your family tree. Doing this, you have "captured" the record. Print it out if you want to using your favorite image program, and be sure to note the source citation of the record image - both the original data source and the online data source. The software programs can capture images and sources from a Web Search, and can be used to do this task. Frankly, I find it easier to do the downloading and saving directly from the database provider into a file folder where I can name it and find it easily.

2) Attach the saved record images to persons in your family tree program. The latest program versions (FTM 2009/2010, RootsMagic 4, Legacy 7, TMG 7) make this very easy to do. While you're at it, input the source information into the Source fields of the program. You'll be glad you did!

3) Do not attach record images to persons in your Ancestry Member Tree directly from the record databases - the links to these images (and therefore the images themselves) will disappear if you do not renew your Ancestry subscription or if the database is removed from

4) Make all changes to your family tree in your genealogy software program on your computer, not in the Member Tree on, if you do not have Family Tree Maker 2009/2010. If you use any other program, you can download only a GEDCOM from that will not include the record images that you have attached to persons in your Ancestry Member Tree.

The major challenge for some researchers is to create and use an organized file folder system with a consistent file naming convention so that you can find the record images easily on your computer hard drive. If you don't know how to do this, contact a knowledgeable computer user in your local society, or your friendly neighbor computer geek, to teach you how - it is not difficult.

Unfortunately, what I have recommended above does not mesh well with the "Genealogy in the Cloud" vision that seems to be the future of genealogy research. is very well-positioned to be the major player in the Genealogy Cloud competition. They have made it easy for subscribers to move data between and FTM 2010 family tree. No other family tree software program can upload the attached media to an Ancestry Member Tree, or vice versa.

At this time, there is NOT a seamless synchronization between FTM 2010 and Ancestry Member Trees. Uploading from FTM 2010 creates a NEW Ancestry Member Tree, and does not just update an existing Member Tree. A downloaded Member Tree into FTM 2010 can create a new family tree, or can be merged into an existing family tree.'s goal is probably to provide a synchronization feature that permits a user to change their database information in either a Member Tree or an FTM database and have it automatically update the other element.

There are several other family tree websites that exchange genealogy databases and media with family tree software - the website and the free Family Tree Builder genealogy software is one such combination. But the MyHeritage site is not free for users with more than 500 persons in their database, and true synchronization is not yet available.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wordly Wednesday: Family Photographs - Post 70: Teenager Betty

I'm posting old family photographs from my collection on Wednesdays, but they won't be wordless Wednesday posts like others do - I simply am incapable of having a wordless post.

This photograph is from loose pictures found in a box, probably from my grandfather's photo album, that I scanned during Scanfest in February:
This is a photograph of my mother, Betty Virginia Carringer, sitting on a wall at an unknown location. Perhaps it is in Balboa Park or at San Diego High School. I am guessing that she is age 16 or 17 in this photograph, but I don't know for sure.

This may have been a special occasion like a graduation from high school (which she did in June 1936 at age 16). She appears to be wearing a striped suit with a pleated skirt - it looks formal to me!

SDGS Meeting on Saturday, 12 September - "My Irish Experience"

The September meeting of the San Diego Genealogical Society is Saturday, 12 September at 12 noon at St. Andrews Lutheran Church (8350 Lake Murray Blvd (at Jackson Drive).

The program is Tom Byrne talking about "My Irish Experience."

Here is the program description from the SDGS Newsletter:

Do you have Irish ancestry? Even if you don’t you will enjoy and learn from a personal account of tracing ancestors in the Emerald Isle.

Learn how he located and made contact with his relatives in Ireland and more about his most enjoyable and rewarding adventure of discovery. See also how this opened up his research to all new possibilities. His methods and inspiration may very well work for you!

His PowerPoint presentation includes music and videos from Ireland and incorporates information from his two earlier books on the Byrne family line from 30 years of research, including DNA analysis.

When not traveling and researching his Irish heritage, Tom Byrne enjoys retirement in Encinitas with his wife of 30 years. He has two grown children. Formerly a software and systems development engineer in the defense electronic industry, he last worked for Lockheed-Martin. He received his undergraduate degree in computer science from Iowa State and MBA from the University of Denver.

You will not want to miss this special program made especially for our Society.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Dear Genea-Man: What is Proof? (Revisited)

Dear Genea-Man,

For "proof," must I have a birth, death or marriage certificate or is something else considered "proof", i.e. Census info? Are birth, death or marriage certificates the only way to resolve conflicting information?

Dear Colleague,

Your question about "proof" is the hardest one to answer definitively in all of genealogy research - "how much and what kind of evidence is enough?" And then you asked the next hardest question - "how do I resolve conflicts in information?"

For some organizations such as lineage societies, you must submit "proof" in the form of birth, marriage and death certificates, wills, deeds, Bible records, naturalization records, military records, etc. If you cannot adequately document the relationships to their standards, then you haven't proved your claimed line.

For all of your research problems (especially when there are sparse or no vital records available), you need to collect every scrap of evidence that you can from every place that holds them, and then you weigh that evidence and draw conclusions. If there are vital records available, you should still try to gather all evidence you can, because one or more items in a record may be wrong (e.g., a birth, death or marriage certificate is only as good as the knowledge and communication skills of the person providing the information, and the ability of the clerk to accurately record the information - the clerk is not an omniscient person).

The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) is described in some detail on the Board of Certified Genealogists (BCG) web site at and in lots of detail in the book BCG Genealogical Standards Manual (see There are examples of sample work products from successful certification portfolios and published articles at Look at the Proof Argument articles and the Research Report examples.

Original source records are better than derivative source records, Primary information is better than secondary information, direct evidence is better than indirect evidence. However, many relationships have been proved by indirect evidence obtained from secondary information in derivative sources, as long as the Genealogical Proof Standard has been applied to the evaluation. The key is the exhaustive search for records and then resolving any conflicts in evidence.

You can learn a lot by reading what other researchers have done. There are case studies in each issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) ( and New England Historical and Genealogical Register (NEHGR) ( journals (among others). Many libraries, including Chula Vista's, has many years of these on the shelf, but they cannot be borrowed.

There are also many articles on these subjects online at Ancestry - go to (it's free) and input search words like "proof evidence sources" and you will get many hits. I input "conflicting" into the search box and found these articles (out of 423 matches):

* "Evaluating Evidence" by Patricia Law Hatcher at

* "Corroborating or Conflicting Evidence" by Patricia Law Hatcher at

* "Corroborating or Conflicting Evidence - Part 2" by Patricia Law Hatcher at

* "When It Just Doesn't Add Up" by Juliana Smith at

* "Using Clues: The Pros and Cons of Secondary Information" by Juliana Smith at

* "Weighing the Evidence" by George G. Morgan at

* "Building a Case When No Record 'Proves' A Point" by Elizabeth Shown Mills at

There are many other articles by respected and professional genealogists in this Ancestry article archive. There are also general and specific books about Records, Information, Sources, Evidence, Proof, etc. - you can buy them at the Ancestry Store (, Amazon ( or the specific book publisher web sites.Stephen Danko had an excellent series of articles in August 2006 discussing these issues, with examples of his critical evaluation of the evidence, on his blog - see

* A Preponderance of Evidence
* The Genealogical Proof Standard
* Complete, Accurate Citations
* Original Sources, Derivative Sources, Exact Images, and Original Records
* New Definitions of Original Source and Derivative Source (A Proposal)
* Primary and Secondary Information
* Evaluating the Quality of Aunt Mary's Records

I am convinced that many genealogy research problems can be solved by applying the GPS - doing the exhaustive record search, critically evaluating all evidence, resolving conflicts and arriving at a reasoned conclusion. The challenge for each of us is doing it with limited knowledge, time and resources.


This is a question from one of my society colleagues who is trying to do research the right way. The society members range in experience from beginner to advanced, and there is so much material available that it can be overwhelming to many members. I write these answers hoping that they will gain knowledge by breaking it down into a manageable reading list, and then hoping they will apply the lessons learned to gain experience and confidence. It also helps focus my research efforts, and perhaps it will help some of my readers learn more about genealogy research and family history. As you can tell, I am NOT an expert in this field - just a genealogist with a keyboard.

NOTE: While I'm on vacation, I've been posting "Best of Genea-Musings" articles. This article was originally published on 13 December 2007.

My Greatest Genealogy Find Ever (Revisited)

Craig Manson has a great post about his "Greatest Genealogy Find Ever" which talks about finding records for the mother of his Aunt Grace. In his post, Craig challenges others to describe their greatest genealogy find.

I want to describe two genealogy "finds" that have immensely benefited my research efforts.

1) The family papers collected over four generations about the Devier and Abigail (Vaux) Smith and Henry Austin and Della (Smith) Carringer families. These were passed down to me by my mother pretty much as they were left by Della in 1944. They include the family Bible pages for several families (with the only known records of birth, marriage and death dates); several letters to and from Abbie and Della from their extended family (one listed all of Della's cousins); Della's Journal for 1929; my grandfather's daily account books; Della's scrapbook and autograph book; many family photographs - framed, loose and pasted into books. My research would be very scanty on this family without all of this material.

2) The father of Isaac Buck (1757-1846) - I described some of this research in two posts titled "Isaac Buck in the Woodpile - Part I" and "Part II." I found the article in "Southborough MA Notifications," stating that Isaac and Ruth Buck had moved into the house of Joseph Richards in Southborough, just by chance - browsing at the library. Then I worked really hard to find the land record that proved that Isaac and Ruth (Graves) Buck had a son named Isaac Buck. I didn't prove that the son Isaac was the father of Isaac Buck (born 1757 to Mary Richards), but that is a lot more logical than the elder Isaac Buck fathering a child by a young woman. But it did affect the genealogy - it added Ruth Graves and her rich Lynn MA ancestry to my ancestral families.

Note that both of these "greatest finds" were obtained before the advent of online genealogy research and online databases. Even now, this information would not be found online except on my blog and web site.

NOTE: I am posting articles that I consider some of the "Best of Genea-Musings" from over the years. This article was originally posted 1 January 2008.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Funny Place Names (Revisited)

I can't resist lists of funny place names, or funny/peculiar/strange surnames for that matter. Bill West started this with his post "WHEN YOU SAY CHARGOGGAGOGGMANCHAUGGAGOGGCHAUBUNAGUNGAMAUGG, YOU'VE SAID IT ALL." Right. Then he went and provided a link to Wikipedia which had more links, and by the time I had read several of them, I was late to church.

Here are some, um, "interesting" lists of absolutely unique place names (links from Wikipedia's "Place names considered unusual"):

* Funny, Rude and Weird Place Names Around the World. I've actually been to Hell in the Cayman Islands. Now I see that if I want to visit more Hell's I have to go to Norway, Michigan and Texas too!

* Funny Town Names from Around the World. Ever heard of Maggie's Nipples in Wyoming?

* Unusual City Names - by State. Is Ai the shortest town name?

* Odd Name Places. An article by Frank Gallant about odd place names - he's written a book of them.

* Odd and Unusual Place Names. A list of English places, including Nether Wallop near Andover.

You did read all of the lists didn't you? Did you laugh? I did. Thanks, Bill, for a fun, but pretty much wasted, morning!

My dad always told us that there was this lake in Massachusetts whose Indian name meant "You fish on your side, I'll fish on my side, and nobody fish in them middle." We were in California, and I looked for this lake but never found it on a map. Now I know that this was Lake CHARGOGGAGOGGMANCHAUGGAGOGGCHAUBUNAGUNGAMAUGG, but the translation was apparently wrong! Or a joke. Another thing my father got wrong ... or was just funning us about.

Got any favorites not on these lists?

Note: Since I am on vacation in real life, I'm posting earlier articles from my "Best of Genea-Musings" CDROM (wait, I don't have a CDROM yet, do I?). This article was originally posted on 18 May 2008.