Friday, March 16, 2012

Follow-Up Friday - Helpful Reader Comments

I like to catch up on helpful and interesting reader comments on Fridays - here are some from blog and email comments from the last week:

1)  On Mining the SSDI - Finding Married Females in my RootsMagic Database:

a)  Reader bgwiehle commented:  "Beulah's obit wasn't indexed (will need the date to search manually), but here's her husband's,5006519&dq=beulah+seaver+pttisburgh&hl=en 
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Jan 20, 1999
Paul Revere Seaver obituary"

My comment:  Thank you!  I added the text and source to my database.  Genea-blogging works again!

a)  Reader Roger wrote in email:  "You can list females under their married names in FTM 2012 by going to "Tools"; "Options"; "Names/Dates/Places" and checking "Use Married Names for Females". Wouldn't that be easier?"

My comment:  Yes, it would be, but I was using RootsMagic 5 which apparently cannot do that.  Thanks for the tip - I hope other FTM 2012 users can use it.

2)  On Ten Reasons Why I Use a Genealogy Software Program: 

a)  Martin commented:  "In this whole debate of genealogical software, I haven't seen anyone discuss the issue of sharing v. not sharing. It is one thing to have an evidence-based input methodology rather than a conclusion-based input so long as you keep that information to yourself. It is another entirely when you upload that information to a public site. (That is your reason #5).

"You run the risk that you are passing on bad information because it is evidence-based and not conclusion-based. Because these family trees are not vetted, they can't be trusted. They probably hurt more than help. 

"So, I think for your own private consumption, you can (and should) enter evidence into a genealogical software as you go, but only share, upload and publish, a conclusion-based genealogy. At the very least you need to warn people about how you've come to the conclusions you have and that they should do they own research."

b)  Keith Riggle commented:  "Randy, I agree with all your reasons, even #5, which bothers Martin. I believe our genealogical information should be shared, not only as repayment for all the help we've received from others over the years, but also to open up more opportunities for collaboration. If you enter your data correctly, using alternative facts and events, and cite everything properly, then people can go back to your sources and evaluate them for themselves. You can also spell out your conclusions in your notes. My heartburn with most family tree websites is that they usually show only preferred facts and events, and some of them, like Ancestry, keep notes private except for people invited to your tree. Personally, I would like people to see my notes so they know my thinking about the evidence.

"By the way, there have been discussions on other blogs about sharing vs. not sharing. See for example 

My comments:  Thank you both for the comments.  I agree with Martin that you run the risk of passing on bad information whenever you publish something.  However, I don't see how publishing evidenced-based information as opposed to conclusion-based information is a bad thing.  The body of evidence is important to support a conclusion of an Event, and listing each assertion can be useful, especially if you can also post a discussion of the body of evidence and the analysis that leads you to a conclusion; or not!  Unfortunately, some online family trees only permit listings of the Facts/assertions and don't permit posting of the analysis, proof summary or argument in the form of research, person or fact notes.  

Experienced researchers know that everything we see on the Internet should be treated as finding aids;  inexperienced researchers don't always understand that.

3)  OTuesday's Tip - Pennsylvania Death Index, 1906 to 1961 now online:

a)  Unknown commented:  "Be careful to read the application form carefully. You need to submit a SASE for each certificate you order. You may order a number of certificates at one time with one check or money order, but you need to send a SASE for each certificate."

My comment:  Excellent advice - thank you!

4)  on Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - How Many Surnames?:

a)  Carole asked:  "What is GMP?"

My response:  GMP = "Genealogy Management Program" - a fancy way of saying "genealogy database software."  Sorry for the confusion!

5)  On  My Search Engine Shoot-Out:

a)  Anonymous commented:  "You may be interested in "Search Engine Showdown" which is the work of Greg Notess, a reference librarian--""

My comment:  Thanks for the link.  Interesting! 

6)  My Software Wish List - A Historical Place Name Jurisdiction Catalog (HPJNC):

a)  Anonymous commented:  "I am curious about your choice of "British America" as the top level location for early Massachusetts. Technically, I believe that Great Britain did not come into existence until England and Scotland united in 1707. So, wouldn't "New England" or "Colonial America" or some other designation be correct?"

My comment:  I take your point...but "British America" is what RootsMagic 5 "wants" to use if you have the "County Check" feature turned on for dates before 1776.  This refers, of course, to the standard of using historical place names and jurisdictions for the place where an Event occurred.  I have not done that in my database yet.  I'm waiting for the "magic wand" feature where all of the place names can be changed with one flick of a switch in the GMP.  

I don't think that using "New England" or "Colonial America" works.  The English colonies were part of the English Empire, so perhaps "English America" makes sense until Great Britain came into existence, and then use "British America."  That distinguishes them from French America colonies, Spanish America colonies, etc.  

That's enough for this weekly trip through the wisdom of my readers - thank you all for participating and helping me out here.  There were a few comments that ask questions that I will address in a specific post, perhaps next week if I can get my act together.

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Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

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