Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Data Mining Genealogy Web Sites (Part 2)

One of the first things that beginning genealogists should do is determine if somebody else has done some of the research work for them. There are several FREE websites which can help you find others who are interested in your surname or your particular ancestral families. Of course, you must make the effort to prove that the work of other researchers is accurate.

The second site that I visit to mine genealogical data is the Rootsweb WorldConnect database. This is composed of over 420 million entries submitted by genealogists all over the world, with over 4 million different surnames submitted in about 400,000 databases.

If you enter the surname and given name of your ancestor into the box on the entry page, the program takes you to a list of hits. Bear with me as we investigate a typical search:

1) Enter "Seaver" as the Surname, "Isaac" as the given name.

2) You get 17 hits. If you click on one of the names in blue, you can see the entry for this person in the database. For instance, click on the 15th listing of Isaac Seaver (submitted by hendersonscholes - see his name in the RH column).

3) This takes you to the entry for that person, which provides birth, death, marriage, parent and child information. You could click on a parent or a child to get information on them. It also provides whatever notes the submitter included. It also provides the submitters name and email address.

4) Do you see the blue words "Index" "Descendancy" "Register" "Pedigree" "Ahnentafel" just above the data for the person in the database? If you click on one of these, you will get a report. "Descendancy" will give you a Descendants report, "Register" will give you a Register report of descendants, "Pedigree" will give you a pedigree chart, "Ahnentafel" will give you an ancestral report, etc.

5) Click on "Ahnentafel" and you will get an Ahnentafel report (list of ancestors back from the person in the file) for up to 6 generations. You can do a [File] [Save As] and save this report to a file on your hard drive. You can print it off by doing a [File] [Print] or you can highlight text, then [Edit] [Copy] and [Paste] the text into your word processor and save it.

6) Back to steps 1 and 2. What if you get hundreds of hits for your ancestor of interest? You can narrow the search by going to the bottom of the page in Step 2 (the list of 17 hits). If you enter birth dates or localities (I recommend year only and state only), or death data, or marriage data, or parent's names, or a spouse's name (try only a given name), you can reduce the number of hits and zero in on your ancestor of interest.

Caveat emptor, however! Not all data submitted is accurate. On Step 2) above, do you see all of the entries with Isaac Seaver's spouse being Martha Whitney? All of those are erroneous entries. Martha Whitney was the wife of Benjamin Seaver, not an Isaac Seaver. Obviously, your job is to prove whatever data that you find is accurate.

Go explore this web site - put your own ancestor of interest in Step 1. I've only explained the very basics here. The site is a tremendous boon to genealogists - and it is all FREE.

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