Friday, July 6, 2012

Follow-Up Friday - Helpful Reader Comments

It's time for another installment of Follow-Up Friday, where I highlight reader comments on my posts and offer my own pithy responses.  Or not.

1)  On Pennsylvania Probate Records on FamilySearch! (posted 27 June 2012):

*  Reader A DC Wonk noted:  "Ok, so what am I missing? When I went to "Browse through 3,197,552 images," the county of Philadelphia is not listed." and then "Sigh . . . so my next big check was going to be something in Wyoming County.  That's not listed either . . ."

*  In response, Lynn Turner AG commented:  "This collection was scanned from microfilm. If a county was microfilmed, but does NOT show up in the digital collection its because the county did not grant digital rights to FamilySearch. Please know that FamilySearch is currently looking at options to communicate collection coverage to users - thanks for your patience."

My comment:  Thank you, Lynn, for the information.  It appears, then, that the fallback is to check the microfilms for the probate record information (if it's available).  I wonder if the collection will be added to in the future.  I hope that A DC Wonk finds the records sought.

2)  On Citing an Unsuccessful Search (posted 29 June 2012):

*  Lynn Palermo asked:  "Great idea Randy, but what about for those who don't blog? Any ideas?"

*  Michelle Goodrum offered:  "For those who don't blog, write up the negative findings anyway and put a copy in your files, genealogy software, etc. Then in your article, research log or anyplace you need to reference, it you can include a citation."

*  Connie Sheets helped:  "There is nothing that prevents a citation from being a sentence, or even a short paragraph. No need to jump through hoops writing up a separate document, whether blog or otherwise, when you can write a "free-form" citation (aka footnote) explaining briefly what database you searched and the search terms you used.  Sometimes we make things a lot more complicated than they need to be."

My comments:  I like Connie's idea, and have done that on occasion.  However, the record search that turned out negative may have been quite extensive (ideally, being a reasonably exhaustive search).  In that case, using a research log list, and/or adding a research note detailing the search terms and results, as Michelle suggested, may be the best a researcher can do.  Writing it up is important, and being able to find it is important.  In my case, I would blog about it and hen be able to cite a published record (such as it is, subject to the vagaries of Internet life!).  I would also put that in my database.

3)  On Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database - Part 2 (posted 26 June 2012):

*  Carl Fields said:  "I'm writing before seeing Part 3. However, I wonder if some families have "folklore" about ancestors who were soldiers, but who do not appear in the CWSS database because they served in state militia units.

"My great-grandfather served in three different Missouri militia units (one after the other -- and all of the Union side). However, his service for only one of them (the Osage County Home Guard) is recorded in the CWSS. Records for the other two appear only in state-level records. I have a memory of once locating a web site with a database of these Missouri militia members, but I was not able to re-find it while composing this comment.

"I would expect there were others who served only in the militia organizations, and who therefore appear only on the state-level records.

"Long after the end of the war, my g-grandfather received a federal discharge (and later a federal pension) because the Osage County Home Guard apparently did something "in support of federal troops". Apparently the other units he served with later did not. My understanding is that less than 50% of the Home Guard units qualified for later pensions (I believe I saw this on a web site put up by the St. Louis public library).

"I do not know if other states had extensive state-level militias that never entered federal service."

*  Bob O'Connor commented:  "Thanks for this information. Is there a way to also find information without having a name to search? I am interested in finding US Colored soldiers who were prisoners during the Civil War. I maintain a data bases that now has 236 names. But in adding to it, I would need another way to search, perhaps a list of colored prisoners for instance.

"I have the most comprehensive list at Andersonville Prison numbering 105 with some information on every single soldier compiled in the book "The US Colored Troops at Andersonville Prison" published by Infinity Publishing in September 2010."

My comments:  Carl and Bob, I didn't write this piece, only published it.  I hope that the author, Kathy Nitsch, sees this post and responds.  

4)  On Live Blogging my Survey on Hints (posted 5 July 2012):

*  Reader bgwiehle noted:  "Because I don't have an online tree on Ancestry (yet), I don't see (and can't use) the "shaky leaves". However, I do follow up on suggested related records, shown to the far right of many records. And Ancestry does track what I've downloaded and corrected/commented. I wonder if the possible "pushing" of hints would apply to someone like me as well."

My comment:  By definition, they are already "pushing" the hints with the "suggested related records," aren't they?  This also concerns one of my wonderments - are the "suggested related records" tied to what is in my Ancestry Member Tree, and the records attached to it, and are they tied to the trees of other persons with that person?   Since bgwiehle doesn't have an AMT, the answer seems to be "no," but it may be that Ancestry's "suggested related records" may be from attachments to AMTs of other researchers who have the person in their tree.

*  Jacqi Stevens commented:  "I especially value what I can find via historic newspapers, as I'm not just seeking to build a tree, but to get as 3D a picture of my ancestors as possible.  The frustrating thing, however, is that seems to have geographic gaps in their newspaper collections. There are a number of cities or regions I'm researching for which they do not have any newspapers--or the gaps in their publication distribution precisely (and frustratingly!) match the very dates I need."

My comment:  I understand your frustration.  Ancestry uses, I believe, the NewspaperARCHIVE collection, and therefore the coverage is limited.  There are other online historical newspaper sites, notably GenealogyBank, Chronicling America, etc.  

*  Gerry Sell asked:  "I am confused by this:

"Q: Do you attach records that are suggested to you by Hints, i.e. those shaky green leaves on
A: Yes [but not to my genealogy database on Ancestry Member Tree...only to the ancestral, shared database on Ancestry Member Tree]

"What is the distinction between your "genealogy database" on AMT and "the ancestral, shared database" on AMT?  The same confusion arises with respect to the question about the NC death certificate."

My comment:  Sorry to be confusing...I have two major Ancestry Member Trees.  

*  "Randy Seaver's Genealogy Database" includes all of my ancestral research - my own ancestral families, my wife's ancestral families, my one name studies for Seaver, Carringer, Auble, Vaux, Dill, Buck, Remley, McKnew, etc.  I don't attach Hints to this database, but I do use the Hints to find records occasionally.

*  "Seaver-Leland Family Tree" includes only the ancestral families of my wife and myself, back 12 generations.  I have this tree synced to my iPhone, and use it to invite my relatives (brothers, children, cousins) to participate in the tree.  I do attach Hints to this database, and review the record images and copy them to my ancestral files from time to time.  

Thank you to my readers for their helpful comments!  

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Tara said...

This is for Bob O'Connor: do you have a Thomas Williams from Mississippi as a prisoner in your U.S. Colored Troops database?