Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The New FamilySearch Family Tree - Post 4: A Person's Notes, Sources and Combined Records

In the post The New FamilySearch Family Tree - Post 2: Searching for Ancestors, I went searching for Isaac Seaver, and found a mishmash of data that purported to be for my great-great-grandfather, Isaac Seaver (1823-1901), with at least six different Person Identifiers.  In The New FamilySearch Family Tree - Post 3: A Person's Data, I showed all of the different screens from the buttons on the left-hand side of a Person Identifier page for Isaac Seaver (1802-1870), not my ancestor. 

In this post, I want to explore several more links that are on the Person Identifier page.

Here is the Person Identifier page for Isaac Seaver (1802-1870), who is PIN LWL3-LN4:

There are three links at the bottom of the page for:

*  Individual notes
*  Individual sources
*  Combined records

The screens below show these in order.  Here is the "Individual notes" screen:

As you can see from the screen above, the "Notes" for this individual contain only a list of the assertions made for each element of his person identity - his name, gender, birth, marriage, death, etc.  Along with each assertion is a link to see the user name of each Contributor, and their email address (presumably current, but who knows!).

Each section has a link to "Add a note about this individual."  So I added a note to summarize my opinion about the data in this person's identity.  Here is a screen view of the Note after I wrote it:

And after I submitted the Note, the "Individual note" screen looked like this:

The Note said:

"There is a wealth of wrong dates, places and relationships on this person, Isaac Seaver (1802-1870), husband of Abigail Gates.

"He was born 20 December 1802 in Westminster, worcester, Mass., married on 13 November 1832 in Westmnster to Abigail (Gates) Seaver, the widow of his brother Benjamin Seaver (1791-1825).  He had two children with Abigail, Lyman Seaver (born 23 April 1834 in Westminster) and Loring Seaver (born 15 November 1837 in Westminster).  Isaac died  1 July 1870 in Westminster.

"His father was Benjamin Seaver (1754-1817) and his mother was Martha Whitney (1764-1832).  His parents were not Benjamin Seaver (1791-1825) and Abigail Gates (1797-1867).

"Information for another Isaac Seaver (1823-1901) has been conflated with Isaac Seaver (1802-1870).  The information that pertains to Isaac Seaver (1823-1901) should be deleted from this person ID.  I will create a correct Isaac Seaver (1823-1901) PIN so that other data can be combined with it.

"I have or can produce source documents for every one of my assertions above to prove the names, dates, places and relationships above."

Obviously, I could write a note about every piece of wrong information about this person, but that might take days of useless typing on my part.  I hope that the note I submitted will suffice in one place with a decent summary of the facts.  

What should happen now to this collection of information?  My understanding is that the "owners" of each piece of information could sign in and change their information.  There is probably no real chance that will occur.  In the future, IF the promised "Open Environment Source Centric" family tree eventuates, then I, or someone else, can make conclusions using the correct, sourced information for this person, rather than the erroneous assertions in this Person Identity.

The second link on the Person Identifier page is the "Individual Sources:"

Each item of Person Identity shows the assertions made for the event - but only the date and the location.  There are no real "sources" identified here - nothing that says a town record, a vital certificate, a published book, Ancestral File, etc. 

There is a link to "Add a source about this individual" which looks like this:

The source form fields are for: Source Type, Source detail, Media type, Title, Author, Publication information, Location Type or Repository, Name, Address, City, State, Country, Postal Code, Phone, FAX, Page Number, Actual Text, and Comment.

That certainly seems complete.  I'm not sure if the Name, Address, etc. through FAX refer to the submitter of the information, or to the location or repository of the source itself.  I think it's the latter, but it would be useful to know that.

In the current state of this "Individual Source" page, the Source is linked only to the Person Identity.  There is no way to link the source to one or any number of, specific events.  Each assertion should have its own source, obviously (at least to me!).  Why doesn't it?  Perhaps this will be corrected in the future.

I resisted filling in this form for any of the events.  Unless I add my own set of assertions, I cannot add a source to the assertions.  I could do that, and then add a source, but I feel it would be a waste of my time to do it at this time.  Hopefully, there will be an easier way to source each assertion in the future than adding text to a form with 18 text fields.  Many of the entries would be repetitive, but all have to be entered manually by typing in the field at this time.

The third link at the bottom of the Person Identifier page is for "Combined Records:"

This is an interesting table.  I showed only the first of three pages, since there are twelve Contributors to all of the submitted and combined records for this Person Identity.  The Contributor user names are shown across the top of the table, and the assertions made for each element of the Person Identity are in the left-hand column.  Six of the contributors were the "FamilySearch Data Administrator" who, I'm guessing, is the contributor for records extracted for the International Genealogical Index. 

No contributor knew everything about this person, but all thought they knew something.  One contributor combined the birth for Isaac Seaver born 1823 with the data for Isaac Seaver born in 1823.  One contributor (number 11) got the birth, marriage and death dates and places, the spouse's name, and the father's name correct, but had the mother's name wrong.  In fact, none of the 12 contributors got the right mother's name for this Person Identity!

There are actually 13 Person Identifier Numbers for this person.  The one I chose was LWL3-LN4.  The 12 contributors all created persons with unique identifier numbers. 

It's really not that hard to copy material from a published vital records book, is it?  That's where the birth and marriage information can be found - in the book:

Systematic History Fund, Vital Records of Westminster, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849 (Worcester, Mass.: F.P. Rice, 1908), pages 83 and 186. 

While the book above is a derivative source, it is considered authoritative because the information was extracted from the Westminster town records.  The original source for all of those assertions is really the town record book for Westminster, which is available at the Westminster Town Hall, and on microfilm at the Family History Library. 

In this post, we've learned a bit about what notes and sources there are for a person identity, and how to add information to them.  We've also looked at the Combined Records to identify the contributors of each piece of information attached to this Person Identity.

Based on the information in these last three posts, I now understand (probably not fully yet!!), just how messed up this family tree database really is. 

I'm going to continue with these posts on my own schedule because I want to share my experiences of working with the New FamilySearch Family Tree with my readers.  Next up is adding the correct information, maybe even with some real sources, to this Isaac Seaver!  Stay tuned!

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