Friday, February 17, 2012

Follow-Up Friday - Some Interesting Reader Comments

For Follow-Up Friday, I'm delving into the comments left on recent blog posts over the past week that might have helpful hints from readers or asked for my comments:

1)  The post Answers to Questions from on 10 February elicited some interesting comments:

*  Anonymous wrote:

"LOL!! Too Much! Like a Press Relations Coordinator has *real* answers!  His answer to the 'working with BetterGEDCOM group or the GEDCOM X Group' is misleading- if not an out and out lie!  Ancestry hasn't had *ANY* engagement with the BetterGEDCOM Goup whatsoever, periodic or otherwise."

My comment:  I think that Matt coordinated the responses with other employees, so I doubt that Matt wrote these himself.   

*  Anonymous wrote (don't know if it's the same Anonymous or not!):

"Ance$try, like Micro$oft, is a company we love to hate. Unfortunately, interviews like this only reinforce the negative. A PR person is there to put a good spin on what the corp has already decided to do (or not to do, in this case. . .). As users, we are really told what they will do, when they will do it, and how it will be done. Our input is basically ignored, or else we would have CMS or ESM citations already---among other things."

My comment:  I wonder if has a "source citation department?"  If so, why aren't they using an accepted genealogical source citation format like Evidence! Explained?  If not, will they ever do them to the EE standard, and will they ever "fix" all of the source citations currently on their databases that get put into Ancestry Member Trees and FTM 2012 Web Search results?  Another question to ask of them!

*  Tessa noted (relating to Geolover's 1930 census source citation question):

"Quick follow up Randy - not only did the citations change in the 1930 Census but they also dropped the reference to the enumeration district - making it a bit more difficult to find it for purposes of the 1940 census - if you only copy the citation and don't remember to get the ED yourself off the page - just another step. Wondering why?"

My comment:  To help understand what Tessa means, here is the source citation from for one of my ancestral families in the 1930 U.S. Census:

Source Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: San Diego, San Diego, California; Roll: 192; Page: 1A

Image: 680.0; Family History Library Film: 2339927.

So there is no NARA  Microfilm Publication number (it was T626 for 1930) and no ED number (it was 37-116) from the sheet.

2)  The post California Death Index, 1905 to 1939 on FamilySearch! on 10 February had this comment from Leah:

"Just FYI, even when zoomed in all the way, the record layout is difficult to read. I used this: to decipher the different fields. CA County Codes are listed here:

My comment:  The site is a subscription site.  Very helpful County Code link, thanks, Leah!

3)  In my post Jeffrey Bockman on the Future of Genealogy on 12 February, Anonymous commented on the idea of an interconnected family tree:

" The BIG BIG BIG problem with a unified world tree, as others pointed out in your previous post, is junk genealogy duplicated over and over and over clogging up the works.

"As a non-LDS volunteer at my local FHC, I currently have access to trees which will shortly be rolled out to the general public. But even the public, like LDS members, will be allowed to upload Gedcoms. That is simply horrible. The end result is never ending whack-a-mole, i.e trying to merge duplicate individuals.

"And merging duplicates is not necessarily easy. I have plenty of distant ancestors who are on multiple times with different vital dates and places and spouses. This forces one to spend orders of magnitude more time to merge, including having to contact those who uploaded junk genealogy trees with thousands of individuals they have name collected off the net, successively rolling it into one giant snowball of junk.

'Naturally the LDS church wishes to make the system easy for their members to use. But making them and the general public hand key in each individual after being forced to first check well for duplicates, is the only way to avoid this quagmire. The general authorities of the church however feel otherwise. Added to software problems that are clearly traceable to allowing programmers to drive too many specifications, and the it becomes too unwieldy for a serious genealogist to want to spend time on. I know I won't past minimal familiarization so that I can help patrons at the FHC."

My comment:  I think that any unified tree will be a challenge...but I also think that a wiki-like format has the best chance to work, as long as contributors participate in it.  

4)  In my post Are You Prepared to Research Without the SSDI? on 13 February, Judy G. Russell commented:

"FYI, The Social Security Administration is now blacking out parents' names on SS-5s for persons born less than 120 years ago. I have two on order now, expect them to be redacted and at this point plan to file an FOIA appeal to the agency on those. But before you spend tons of money, be aware of that issue."

My comment:  Thank you, Judy, for the FYI.  The Social Security website says:

"We will not disclose information about any person in our records who is under 120 years old, except in those cases where we have acceptable proof of death (e.g., death certificate, obituary, newspaper article, or police report). 

"Also, under our current policy, we do not release the parents’ names on an SS-5 application unless the parents' are proven deceased, have a birth date more than 120 years ago, or the number holder on the SS-5 is at least 100 years of age."

Does this mean that the requester has to send a death certificate, or other document, to the SSA as part of the request?  Is an entry in the SSDI not good enough?  does the last paragraph imply that if the SSN holder was born before 1912 that the parents names will not be redacted?  Is the "proof" of parents deaths the same as in the first paragraph?

5)  In my post My Software Wish List - A Historical Place Name Jurisdiction Catalog (HPJNC) on 14 February, there were a number of comments, including:

*  Banai Feldstein noted:

"There is also the JewishGen Gazetteer that has some of this.

"We have similar place name issues outside of the US too. ShtetlSeeker started for Eastern Europe and has expanded and been renamed. If there is a page for the town, then it lists the town names, district, province, and country by time periods, but it's very generalized about the time periods as many locations changed hands more times."

*  Dallan Quass noted:

" I'd like to see this as well. :-) WeRelate has the ability to store historical relationships like you mention ( I just added Suffolk as a historical county for Medfield: ) but we have a long way to go to get to the level of detail that you're talking about. This would be a huge job, but I believe it would have a lot of value for the genealogy community.

"And I agree -- Eastern Europe (and Germany) have got to be the most difficult for tracking to changes to places over time."

*  Banai added:

" Have you seen Animap and Centennia? They sound like what you might be looking for, but I haven't used them yet. I just learned about Centennia, which covers Europe plus. "

*  testuser commented:

" Have you seen the "GOV: The Historic Gazeteer" for Germany and quite a bit of the rest of middle Europe?  The search form is here:

"More info (and a picture showing the area covered, about 355.000 entries in the database) can be found starting here:  Sadly, the wiki pages seem to be in German only.   A page for a place looks like this:

"Of course it's still far from perfect, some areas and places have lots of details and hierarchies, others are pretty basic. But it is already a great resource, and will get better the more people know it and contribute."

*  Geolover commented:

"I wish for abandonment of the practice of truncating place-names endemic in the GEDCOM format. I want:

"1) as many fields as it takes to properly describe a place; this is necessary in much of Europe and Asia as well as the USA;

"2a) geopolitical descriptors: "Mannington, Mannington District, Marion County, West Virginia" as well as "Mannington District, Marion County, West Virginia" because the majority of people did not live in even small cities until the 1930s or so. Collapsing both of the above into "Mannington, Marion, West Virginia" incorrectly suggests that most of the people who lived in the Magisterial District actually lived in the village. The same goes for New England Towns, Beats, Judicial Districts, etc.

"2b) on the other hand, the genealogical service providers should quit adding 'city' when not part of an actual placename.
"3) The genealogical database providers need to ~look at~ the valuable existing place guides, such as and (for Wales)

"4) The internet map service providers are quite inadequate regarding locating present geopolitical subdivisions. They are years away from dealing with historical transformations." 

My comments:  These are all very helpful comments about websites that currently have, or are trying to have, historical location jurisdiction tables.  I agree that this is a challenging task to do, but I think that the genealogical community has the resources and knowledge to do it if they can be mobilized and encouraged to do it.

My thanks to all of my readers for their comments on my blog posts.  

Copyright (c) Randall J. Seaver, 2012.

1 comment:

Brett Rodgers said...

Hopefully this classifies as a interesting comment. I would recommend people doing internet genealogy. Its fun and hard and its like a treasure hunt. I love doing it and it is the best. I would try internet genealogy.