Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Guess Your Ancestor's 1940 Census Data

Hey genea-census-holics... it's Saturday Night, time for more Genealogy Fun!!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (come on, you know that you want to!), is to:

1)  Pick one of the persons from your ancestry who should be in the 1940 United States Census.

2)  Using the column headings below (from 1940 United States Census Questions), predict what the entries will be in each column.

3)  Share your predictions on your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook status or a Google Plus post.

Here's mine:

I'm picking my mother, Betty Virginia (Carringer) Seaver.  Here are my predicted column entries (in red):

*  State:  California
*  Populated Place: San Diego
*  Ward of City:  ???
*  County:  San Diego
*  Township or other division of county:  San Diego City
*  Block Nos.:  ???
*  Enumeration District:  62-63A

1.  Location - street, avenue or road:  Fern Street
2.  Location - house number:  2130

3.  Number of household:  ???
4.  Home owned or rented:  O [but not by Betty!]
5.  Value of home (if owned) or monthly rental (if rented):  $4,000 [but not by Betty]
6.  Does this household live on a farm?  No
7.  Name of person:  Betty V. Carringer
8.  Relationship of this person to head of household:  Daughter

9.  Sex:  F[emale]
10.  Color or Race:  W[hite]
11.  Age at last birthday:  20
12.  Marital Status:  S[ingle]

13.  Attended school or college any time since March 1, 1940:  Yes
14.  Highest grade of school completed:  C-3

15.  Place of birth:  California
16.  Citizenship of foreign born: [blank]

17.  Residence on 1 April, 1935 - City or town:  Same place
18.  Residence on 1 April, 1935 - County: [blank]
19.  Residence on 1 April, 1935 - State or foreign country: [blank]
20.  On a farm?  No

21.  Was this person AT WORK for pay or profit in private or nonemergency Gov't. work during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No): No
22:  If not, was he at work on, or assigned to, public EMERGENCY WORK (WPA, NYA, CCC, etc.) during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No): No
23. If neither at work nor assigned to public emergency work. ("No" in Cols. 21 and 22), Was this person SEEKING WORK (Yes or No):  No
24. If not seeking work, did he HAVE A JOB, business, etc.? (Yes or No):  No
25. Indicate whether engaged in home house-work (H), in school (S), unable to work (U), or other (Ot): [blank]
26. Number of hours worked during week of March 24-30, 1940: 0
27. If seeking work or assigned to public emergency work. ("Yes" in Col. 22 or 23); Duration of unemployment up to March 30, 1940 - in weeks:  0

28.  Occupation: Trade, profession, or particular kind of work, as frame spinner, salesman, rivet heater ,music teacher:  [blank]
29. Industry: Industry or business, as cotton mill, retail grocery, farm, shipyard, public school: [blank]
30. Class of worker: [blank]
31. Number of weeks worked in 1939 (Equivalent full-time weeks): 0

32.  Income in 1939 (12 months ended December 31, 1939): Amount of money wages or salary received (including commissions):  0
33. Did this person receive income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary (Yes or No): No
34.  Number of farm schedule: [blank]

The URL for this post is:

copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Surname Saturday - LNU (England? > Rhode Island)

It's Surname Saturday, and I'm "counting down" my Ancestral Name List each week.  I am now up to number 377, who is Joanna --?-- (ca 1700-????), one of my 6th-great-grandparents. [Note: The 6th great-grandfathers have been covered in earlier posts] 

My ancestral line back to Joanna --?--is:

1. Randall J. Seaver

2. Frederick Walton Seaver (1911-1983)
3. Betty Virginia Carringer (1919-2002)

4. Frederick Walton Seaver (1876-1942)
5. Alma Bessie Richmond (1882-1962)

10. Thomas Richmond (1848-1917)
11. Julia White (1848-1913)

22. Henry Arnold White ((1824-1885)
23. Amy Frances Oatley (1826-before 1870)

46.  Jonathan Oatley (1790-1872)
47.  Amy Champlin (1798-1865)

94.  Joseph Champlin (1758-1850)
95.  Nancy Kenyon (1765-????)

188. Elijah Champlin (1730-1779)
189.  Phoebe Card (1730-1787)

376.  William Champlin, born 1687 in Westerly, Washington, Rhode Island, United States; died after 1778 in Rhode Island, United States.  He was the son of 752. Christopher Champlin and 753. unknown.  He married before 1720 in Rhode Island, United States.

377.  Joanna, born about 1700 in Rhode Island, United States; died in  about 1760 in Rhode Island.

Children of William Champlin and Joanna are:  William Champlin (1720-1778); Michael Champlin (1723-1786); John Champlin (1727-????); Anna Champlin (1729-????); Elijah Champlin (1730-1779); Dorcas Champlin (1732-????); Temperance Champlin (1738-????).

There are at least 113 Ancestry Member Trees with this couple, and most of them say that Joanna's maiden surname is Watson (one says Warson).  None of those trees lists parents for Joanna.  There are at least 18 family trees on RootsWeb WorldConnect with this couple, and none of them lists parents for Joanna.  

There is a John Watson (1651-1728) and Dorcas Gardiner (1656-1702) family residing in Kingstown, Washington County, Rhode Island in the 1680 to 1700 time frame.  Several Ancestry Member Trees list five children for them, including John, William, Ann, Francis and Herodias Watson.   

I note that Joanna (--?--) had a daughter, Dorcas, which was a relatively uncommon name in New England, but was not rare.  If one of the Watson children had been named Temperance or Elijah, or if one of the Champlin children had been named Francis or Herodias, then I would be a bit more convinced.  

I have not researched the Watson family at all.   I note that there is a book compiled by George Davis, The American Family of John Watson of the Narragansett Country, R.I. (Kingston, R.I.: The Pettaquamscutt Historical Society, 1983).  I should try to find that book on my next trip to the Carlsbad Library or the Family History Library.  

I have chosen to not include Watson as Joanna's surname at this time.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Friday, March 30, 2012

NARA Responses to 1940 Census Comments

In my post My 1940 U.S. Census Expectations yesterday, I posed many opinions and a few questions.  

Reader Ernest Johnson forwarded my blog post to a NARA employee, and received responses to the questions, which he just emailed to me:

4. The ED maps and descriptions available in OPA will also be available at

5. is incorporating Steve Morse's data thanks to the generosity of Steve and Joel Weintraub.

6.  The site will be able to handle far more than 25,000 users as has been shown in our testing. 

10. Users will have the option to download the images for an ED. 

11. Users can report errors from the site.  The reports will be emailed to the National Archives and

My thanks to Ernest, and to the NARA personnel, who provided this information.

I wonder if they will tell us how many simultaneous users were on the site at the peak times.  Or how many EDs were downloaded from the site.  Or how many errors are reported to the site.

 It will be interesting to see the changes to the NARA website at  Here is a screen shot in the "Before" condition today:

I'm curious as to how they will incorporate the Steve Morse site procedures on the NARA website.  

This should be fun on Monday!

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver.

Family Roots Publishing at CVGS Seminar on Saturday

The Spring Seminar of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society is tomorrow, Saturday, 31 March, at the Chula Vista Golf Course (4475 Bonita Road in Bonita).  The announcement of the "British Isles to America and Migrating West" was highlighted in CVGS Spring Seminar is Saturday, 31 March.  The program features Bill Dollarhide and Leland Meitzler.

Leland is bringing his book selling business, Family Roots Publishing, to the seminar.  Attendees are encouraged to buy books of interest at the seminar and save the shipping costs.  Over 2000 great genealogy guidebooks can be found on the website, including:

*  Regional guidebooks for most countries, American states, and Canadian provinces
*  Guides on writing, and recording genealogy, photography, DNA research, genealogy dictionaries, computer use, immigration, migration, and more

The company publishes many books, and also sells books published by others.  Leland's blog, GenealogyBlog, features book summaries every day - see    

I don't know exactly which books Leland is bringing, but I recommend that attendees buy books that interest them, and also consider the QuickSheet and Genealogy at a Glance series of laminated folders that are introductory summaries to complex subjects.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

My 1940 U.S. Census Compendium

I have written a number of posts about the 1940 United States Census over the past year, including:

*  NARA is Looking for a Host and Search Engine for the 1940 U.S. Census (1 June 2011)

*  1940 U.S. Census RFI Q&A (24 June 2011)

*  1940 Census Searching Tools Announced (28 June 2011)

*  Using the 1940 Census ED Finding Tool (29 June 2011)

*  1940 Census Enumeration District Maps Online at NARA Website (18 July 2011)

*  New Steve Morse One-Step Utility for 1940 Census Enumeration District Maps (21 July 2011)

* and the 1940 U.S. Census (17 August 2011)

*  1940 U.S. Census Request for Quote and Statement of Work is out (21 August 2011)

*  Comments on the 1940 U.S. Census RFQ and SOW (22 August 2011)

*  "Census, census, get'cher 1940 census here..." (24 August 2011)

*  1940 U.S. Census Contractors Questions and NARA Answers (4 September 2011)

* is NARA Partner to Host 1940 U.S. Census Images (17 November 2011)

*  All-in-One 1940 U.S. Census Utility Available (22 December 2011)

Q&A with Julie Hill of about the 1940 U.S. Census (26 December 2011).

*  1940 U.S. Census "I'm In It" Video (15 February 2012)

*  I'm On It, But Not In It. (27 February 2012)

*  Making a List of Persons Alive in the 1940 US Census (28 February 2012)

*  1940 United States Census Questions (5 March 2012)

*  Legacy Family Tree 7.5 Adds Census Year Reports (8 March 2012)

*  What I learned about the 1940 U.S. Census (12 March 2012)

*  Tuesday's Tip - Find 1940 EDs Using Steve Morse One-Step Location Tools (13 March 2012)

*  What Columns of the 1940 U.S. Census Will be Indexed? (13 March 2012)

*   Common Mistakes in 1940 U.S. Census Indexing (14 March 2012)

*  How Can I Find Out Where My Folks Lived in 1940? (16 March 2012)

*  Where Were My Peeps in 1940? (21 March 2012)

*  Finding Addresses of People in the 1940 U.S. Census Using City Directories (22 March 2012)

*  Tuesday's Tip - Find 1940 Addresses in City Directories (27 March 2012)

*  The New "Who Was There" Report in RootsMagic 5 (28 March 2012)

*  1940 U.S. Census Infographic (29 March 2012)

*  My 1940 U.S. Census Expectations (29 March 2012)

I didn't realize that I had written so many posts about the 1940 U.S. Census.  I think that I was the only geneablogger that discussed the NARA RFI in any detail last summer.

I will add to this list as time goes on.

Last updated:  30 March 2012

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Follow Friday - This Weekend's Genealogy TV and Radio Shows

There are two television shows about genealogy, and there are two genealogy-related radio shows on Blog Talk Radio (, this weekend.  They are:

1)  Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC, 8 p.m. EDT, PDT, 7 p.m. CDT, MDT) -- This week (Friday, 30 March) the celebrity is Rita Wilson (a new episode).  

You can watch past episodes at

2)  Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (PBS, 8 p.m. EDT, PDT, 7 p.m. CDT, MDT) -- This week (Sunday, April 1) the celebrities are Barbara Walters and Geoffrey Canada (a new episode)

The PBS web page for the series is at  You can watch previews of this series at 

3)  GeneaBloggers Radio -- Episode 60 with Thomas MacEntee hosting. The show is  titled Ready, Set, 1940 U.S. Census.   This show is on:

Friday, March 30, 2012
*  9 pm-10:30 pm Eastern US
*  8-9:30 pm Central US
*  7-8:30 pm Mountain US
*  6-7:30 pm Pacific US
*  2 am London UK

*  1pm Saturday Sydney AUS  

The show guests are:

Steve Morse, architect of the Intel 8086 process which helped spark the PC revolution over 30 years ago, who has developed a set of online tools at his One Step Website to help you locate your family in the 1940 US Census. 

*  Joel Weintraub, retired biology professor at California State University, Fullerton who has been preparing for the release of the 1940 US Census since 2005. 
*  Jim Ericson, of FamilySearch, which is one of the sponsors of the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project. Jim will discuss how you can get involved with indexing the 1940 US Census images when they are released on April 2, 2012. 
*  Amy Johnson Crow, another partner in the 1940 US Census Community Project who offer a behind the scenes look at the technology used to make the 1940 US Census images available to the public. 

Don’t forget that there is a chat room where all the “cool kids” hang out on Friday night! Sign in to BlogTalkRadio with your Facebook account or set up a free BlogTalkRadio account to join in the fun.

4)  FGS Radio - My Society, an Internet radio show on Blog Talk Radio presented by the Federation of Genealogical Societies.  This week's show is 
High Touch: Keeping Connected to Your Society Members hosted by Drew Smith.  The show airs at:

Saturday, March 31, 2012
*  2-3 pm Eastern US
*  1-2 pm Central US
*  12-1 pm Mountain US
*  11 am-12pm Pacific US 

The special guests and features include:

Our guest will be Pam Treme, editor of Florida Lines, the newsletter for the Florida State Genealogical Society. Pam and Drew will be talking about websites, newsletters, phone trees, and any other ways that societies can keep their members feeling informed and connected. 

*  Last week’s episode ran long, so we’ll once again be featuring FGS member society, Northern Arizona Genealogical Society, in our weekly Society Spotlight feature. 

Tune in to FGS Radio – My Society each week to learn more about genealogy societies and join in a discussion of the issues impacting the genealogical community. 

You can also listen to the archived shows on Blog Talk Radio by going to the two show sites:

*  Geneabloggers Radio:

*  FGS Radio - MySociety:   

The URL for this post is: 

Copyright (c) Randall J. Seaver, 2012.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My 1940 U.S. Census Expectations

I have many expectations about the 1940 United States Census which will be released on Monday, 2 April 2012 at 9 a.m. EDT (6 a.m. PDT).  They include:

1)  The release of the digital images on the NARA website will occur on time.  That's the easy part!

2)  Thousands of potential users will ask "Why didn't someone tell me I had to know the Enumeration District number?" Yes, you have to KNOW the ED before you try to see the census images, otherwise your effort will be in vain.

3)  Thousands of potential users will wonder what an Enumeration District is, and finally figure out that to know the ED, they have to know an address of each family.  They will wonder where to find the address.  I posted How Can I Find Out Where My Folks Lived in 1940? and Finding Addresses of People in the 1940 U.S. Census Using City Directories to help out.

4)  Thousands of users will wonder where to go to find the Enumeration District number when they have an address, and will eventually find the NARA Online Public Access (OPA) website at  They will try to find the maps that may tell them an ED number.  Or not.  It is pretty hard to find the right map for large cities, and to find the right ED number for large cities.

5)  Astute genealogists, who have read the publicity put out by genealogy bloggers, magazines, society newsletters, or watched the available webinars, will know that they should use the Steve Morse 1940 Census ED Finder at in conjunction with a site like Google Maps or the NARA OPA site to find the streets that define the residence block.

6)  The NARA 1940 Census website will be overloaded and will not return results for anybody for several hours, perhaps even until late evening on 2 April.  The contract to host the images required 25,000 concurrent users.  I hope that  the host will add additional server capability.

7)  If a user manages to get to the site to enter their state and Enumeration District number, they may not know that the first image they see will be the first page for the Enumeration District.  There is a really good chance that their family is NOT on the page image that comes up.  Many users will give up at this point.

8)  The user may try to browse the online images for the Enumeration District on the NARA site page by page.  This may become quite frustrating if the wait times for each image to load is long.

9)  There will be a learning curve to use the NARA website to navigate page to page, to manipulate the images (zoom in/out, rotate, etc.).  Nobody in the genealogical community has seen this site yet...

10)  The user may not know that the best way to see and read the images is to download the entire Enumeration District file (it may be over 100 megabytes) to their computer hard drive and then browse the images offline using their photo or graphics software program.  This, of course, will be a problem for users without a fast Internet connection.

11)  There will be errors in the linking of the ED numbers to the ED images.  With 147,000 enumeration districts, there are bound to be errors.  Will there be an email address to notify of the errors?

12)  Thousands of users will wonder where the name indexes are and deluge social media websites and genealogy society email addresses with questions about the lack of a name index.

13)  They will complain when their state is one of the last ones to appear with a name index (hint - large states will probably be last!).  They will continue to complain until late in 2012 about the lack of name indexes.  Then they will complain that they can't find their families using the name indexes because the indexers screwed up.

14)  I expect to be able to find at least five families on 2 April 2012 in the 1940 US Census.  I expect to blog about the experience and the results.

15)  I expect to wait until the every-name index is available to find all of the persons that I want to find in the 1940 U.S. Census (Seaver, Carringer, Auble, Vaux, Richmond, Dill, Buck, Leland, Schaffner, McKnew, Grieser, and other families, plus collaterals).

There are sets of Frequently Asked Questions about the 1940 Census at:

1)  Steve Morse One-Step website - see

2)  National Archives 1940 Census Records page - see

3)  National Archives 1940 Census FAQ page - see

What expectations do you have?  Do you agree or disagree with mine?  What would you add to my list?

The URL for this post is:

copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

1940 U.S. Census Infographic

The Blog has just posted an Infographic for Find Your Family in the 1940 Census.  They encourage us to share it, so I will!

1940 census

I like it!

However, I'm disappointed that it doesn't refer readers to the Steve Morse One-Step site to find the Enumeration District (ED) using the 1940 Census ED Finder, though.  The NARA maps are hard to use and read, but the Steve Morse site finds the right ED every time.

The URL for this post is:

Treasure Chest Thursday - Benjamin and Abigail Seaver Family in Westminster MA Town Records

It's Treasure Chest Thursday - a time to reveal another gem in my treasure chest of family history.  

Last week, I noted that Adds Original Massachusetts Vital Records - these are images of the original town records that noted births, marriages and deaths.

Here is the page from the Westminster, Massachusetts Town Records that records the birth of the children of Benjamin and Abigail (Gates) Seaver, including my second great-grandfather, Isaac Seaver:

The right-hand page (page 246, penned) on this image lists the following:

Benjamin and Abigail Sever's family recd

August 7 1817  Abigal Sever Born

October 18th 1821  Lucinda Seaver Born

October 16th 1823  Isaac Seaver born

Feby 21, 1825  Benjamin Seaver Born

Bennjamin Seaver parent of the above family Died May 25th 1825 age 33 years and five months

Isaac and Abigail Seaver's family Record

April 23, 1834  Lyman Seaver Born

Abigail Wife d Sepr 27 1867

A source citation for the record above is:

"Massachusetts, Town Vital Collections, 1620-1988," online database, ( accessed 20 March 2012); Westminster [Mass.], page 246 (penned), Benjamin and Abigail Seaver family; citing original records in Jay Mack Holbrook, Westminster 1728-1905,  (Oxford, Mass.: Holbrook Research Institute, 1997). 

I posted the Birth certificate for Isaac Seaver (born 1823 in Westminster, Mass.) in Treasure Chest Thursday - Isaac Seaver's Birth Certificate (obtained by me in 1990).  I also have the letter from the Westminster Town Clerk who attested to Isaac's birth date and parents names in 1900 as part of Isaac's civil War Pension File.  

The URL for this post is:

copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The New "Who Was There" Report in RootsMagic 5

After the announcement of Version 5.0.3 of RootsMagic yesterday, I noted that it had a new report - a "Who Was There" report that could be tailored for a specific date and location.  This is, of course, very timely for the release of the 1940 U.S. Census on Monday, 2 April.

I decided to take the new report for a spin.  Here was my process:

1)  From any view, click on the "Reports" menu and select "Lists:"

2)  Scroll down on the "Lists" in the "Create a Report" window and select the "Who Was There" item:

3)  The "Who Was There" List window opened, and I added to the fields:

*  Find people who may have lived in this place:  "Leominster, Massachusetts"
*  On this date (or during this time period):  1 April 1940
*  Life span (average):  "100"
*  Filters - People to Include:  "Everyone" selected
*  Minimum Age:  "0"
*  Maximum Age:  "100"
*  Checked "Print married name on date"
*  Unchecked "Print alternate names"
*  Unchecked "Reverse place names"
*  Checked "Draw lines between rows"
*  Unchecked "Print preparer's information"

4)  Click on "Generate Report" button:

After about 90 seconds, a six page report was created (41,300 person file).   The column headings are Name, Born, Died, Age, and Place.  The Place information includes every item on the Fact list that has the place name.  I can save or print this report off so that I can use it to find these persons in the 1940 U.S. Census or in a 1940 City Directory for Leominster.  The names are in alphabetical order (by birth name, not married name).

Since I requested everyone in my database, the program checked every person to see if they had a mention of Leominster, Massachusetts in their Fact list.  Note that there are listings for persons for whom I have only a birth or marriage record back into the mid-1800s.  Since I have no death date for some of these persons, and they fall within the 100 year age limit I specified, they are on this list.

Note that Bruce Buzbee has posted about this "Who Was There" report in RootsMagic’s New “Who Was There” Report.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Journals at the NEHGS American Ancestors site

I am a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, even though I am 2,500 miles away.  Why?  Because it has two excellent periodicals (the American Ancestors magazine and the quarterly New England Historical and Genealogical Register) and a website with many searchable databases, including runs of several historic genealogical journals.  You do have to be an NEHGS member in order to access most of the databases and the periodicals.

The historical genealogical journals available at the site include:

*  New England Historical and Genealogical Register:  Volumes 1 to 166 (1847 to present)

*  The American Genealogist:  Volumes 9 to 63 (1932 to 1988)

*  New York Genealogical and Biographical Record:  Volumes 1 to 15 (1870 to 1884)

*  The Mayflower Descendant: Volumes 1 to 25 (1899 to 1923)

*  The Connecticut Nutmegger:  Volumes 1 to 43 (1968 to 2010)

*  The Essex Genealogist: Volumes 1 to 15 (1981-1995)

*  New Netherlands Connections: Volumes 1 to 15 (1996-2010)

*  Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine:  Volumes 1 to 20 (1936-1955)

*  The Virginia Genealogist: Volumes 1 to 49 (1957 to 2005)

*  The Essex Antiquarian: Volumes 1 to 13 (1891-1903)

Frankly, this collection is like having a small periodical library in my genealogy cave!  I can search these journals, or browse them issue by issue, save pages, print out pages, etc.

I currently receive the American Ancestors magazine by postal mail, and access the website to download and save the New England Historical and Genealogical Register issues as a PDF file.  I then put the complete issue on Dropbox so that I can access the issues with my iPhone, Galaxy tablet and laptop computer.

If you have New England and New York ancestry, then an NEHGS subscription is necessary to do extensive online research.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Post 198: Richmond Sisters and Cousins

 I am posting photographs from my family collections for (Not So) Wordless Wednesday (you know me, I can't go wordless!).    

Here is a small photograph from the Seaver/Carringer family collection handed down by my mother in the 1988 to 2002 time period:  

This photograph was taken in the summer of 1958 when my grandmother, Alma Bessie (Richmond) Seaver visited San Diego with her daughter, Evelyn (Seaver) Wood and Evelyn's husband, Walter H. Wood.  They traveled by automobile from Leominster, Massachusetts to San Diego to visit my parents family and the family of Emily (Richmond) Taylor, Bessie's sister.

The four people in the photo are (from left):

*  Emily White (Richmond) Taylor (1879-1966), Bessie's sister, widow of George Taylor (1865-1945)
*  Evelyn (Seaver) Wood (1903-1978), daughter of Bessie, and wife of Walter H. Wood (1893-1966).
*  Alma Bessie (Richmond) Seaver (1882-1962), widow of Frederick w. Seaver (1876-1942) and mother of my father, Frederick W. Seaver (1911-1983).
*  Dorothy (Taylor) Chamberlain (1904-1992), daughter of Emily (Richmond) Taylor and wife of Marshall B. Chamberlain (1903-1968).

The photograph was taken in the back yard garden of the Chamberlain home at 4601 Terrace Drive in the Kensington neighborhood of San Diego.  

The Chamberlain home has a special place in my heart.  Aunt Emily was a dear person, ad Dorothy and Marshall Chamberlain were the only Seaver/Richmond family we had in San Diego.  We visited their home several times a year, especially at Christmas.  

This visit by my grandmother was the only time that I met my grandmother in person.  She would have been proud of my  genealogy research work, since she was the one who claimed that we were descended from Peregrine White, the child born in Massachusetts Bay aboard the Mayflower in 1620.  She was right!  What she didn't know, and I would have loved to be able to tell her and see the twinkle in her eye, was that we are descended also from Mayflower passengers Francis Cooke, John Cooke, George Soule, Richard Warren, Susanna (--?--) (White) Winslow, William Brewster, and Mary (--?--) Brewster.  I would love to be able to tell her "Thank you, grandmother, for a fabulous New England ancestry!"

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Michael Hait's Genealogy Software Challenge - Citing a Probate Law and Making a Proof Argument

In his post Another word on “Evidence-based” and “Conclusion-based” genealogy software use, Michael Hait presented a short case study involving a probate case, and the applicable probate law, and challenged genealogy software users to:

"In a genealogy software program, how would one:

"(1) enter a “fact” or “event” for S. B. or M. B. to reflect the existence of the probate law?
"(2) cite the probate law?
"I am sure that there is a way, and if I relied on genealogical software in my research, I would have to figure it out. But I have a feeling that it would be a bit convoluted, whereas it is much easier to accomplish simply using a word processor with footnotes.
"The next question is then–how would this be handled differently by an “evidence-based” software user and a “conclusion-based” software user?"
Please read Michael's case study.  If I was faced with this situation, I would add a Birth Event for "S.B." as "before 1745" and cite the probate record for "M.B." from 1762/3 and also cite the probate law that states the age requirement is at least 17 years of age.  I would then add a Proof Argument in a Note to the Birth Event that discusses the situation along the lines of:
"The estate of M.B. was administered in 1762/3 in Whatever County, WhatState. S.B. was appointed the administrator of the estate (Whatever County, WhatState Probate Records, File xx,yyy, recorded 1763, etc.).  
"The applicable WhatState law in 1762/3 states that an administrator must be at least 17 years of age (WhatState Legislature, Law #1745-xxx, Section yy.zzz, etc.).  
Therefore, S.B.'s birth date is before 1745."
This Birth Event Note could also have been added to the Person Notes for S.B.  I tend to add my sources to the Person Notes also.
In addition, I would add the two sources, and the Birth Note, to the Parent-Child Relationship Fact in the software also, because this is primary information relating to that relationship.  
To answer Michael's last question, I don't think that there would be much difference between how an "evidenced-based" or "conclusion-based" software user would add this information.  If this is the only evidence for the Birth date found after a reasonably exhaustive search, then there would be only this one Birth date assertion and Relationship assertion, with authoritative sources attached to those Events.  There is only one piece of Evidence pertaining to the Birth date, and that makes the conclusion easy to make.
I probably would have added information to the Relationship Event and/or to the Person Notes that noted that the S.B. listed in the Revolutionary War Pension File, apparently born in 1764/5, could not be the S.B. son of M.B. who administered the estate of M.B. in 1762/3 for the obvious reasons.  
For me, my genealogy software database is my working file, and I want to put more information into it rather than less information.  It is impossible for me to remember all of the details about names, dates, places, relationships, life events and resources.  If, or when, I am ready to write a report, book or an article, then I can create a rough draft using the software including all of the evidence, sources and notes, and can edit the information as I write the report, book or article.  This rough draft has the names, dates, places and relationships defined, with an appropriate numbering system, so that I don't have to worry about confusing generations or those items - they are in the software and I avoid having to type them over again.  
I find that it is easier for me to edit a rough draft created by my genealogy program.  It is easier for me to edit notes and sources, delete unwanted or obsolete information, or draw soundly written conclusions from the available evidence using a rough draft, than to create information in a word processing program from a stack of paper in a file folder or on my desk.  I understand that the word processing file can be a working document that is added to and edited over a period of time as research progresses.  
I also recognize that different researchers and writers are most comfortable doing things the way they think best and are comfortable with.  
Thank you, Michael, for the challenge, it was fun to think this through.  I encourage readers to read Michael's post, and the comments (Elizabeth Shown Mills' comment is very informative!).  If readers have better solutions, please offer them in comments to this post.
Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

My First Look at FamilySearch Family Tree - Post 2: Source Citations

In  My First Look at FamilySearch Family Tree - Post 1, I briefly described the content, navigation and look of the interconnected family tree on FamilySearch.  Note that this is not yet available to interested users - only to some users in a Beta release.  

I noted that there was no sources attached to the persons that I had previously added to the Family Tree using RootsMagic 5 software.  I was curious as to the source information and format that could be added at present to the system, so I decided to do one source citation manually using copy and paste.  Here was my process:

1)  From the Person page for Isaac Seaver:

2)  At the bottom of the Person page above, is the "Sources" area, and a link to "Add a New Source."  I clicked the link and saw:

3)  The screen above has a "Create" button and says "To add a new source, select the Create button.  I did, and the "Create a Source" window opened:

There are four fields in the "Create a Source" screen above - "Source title (Required)," "Web Page (Link to the Record)," "Where the Record is found (Citation)" and Describe the Record (Note)."  Each field has example text that can be typed over.  Here is what I added (rightly or wrongly):

Source title:  Westminster, Massachusetts, Copy of Record of Birth

Web Page:  blank (since I have a piece of paper, not a web page)

Where the Record is Found:   City Clerk's Office, Westminster, Mass.

Describe the Record: Copy of Record of Birth: Isaac Sever, born 16 October 1823 to Benjamin and Abigail Sever (birth certificate dated and seal affixed 17 September 1990).

4) I clicked the "Save" button above and another window appeared for "Attach to Isaac Seaver" saying "Explain why you are attaching this source to this person...":

I entered this text into the field:

"Source provides derivative source, primary information and direct evidence of birth of Isaac Seaver (1823-1901), son of Benjamin and Abigail Seaver in Westminster MA on 16 October 1823."

5) I clicked on the "Attach" button and saw:

The screen above shows the source information for what I entered into the source fields.  Apparently, there is no source citation in a "footnote" or "bibliography" format for this source.

6)  I went back to the Birth record information and clicked on the Birth Record, and edit fields opened for the birth date, the birth place and an "Evidence and Analysis:"

Note that the date and place fields have a green background, indicating that the format for the date and place are correct.  I added text to the "Evidence and Analysis" field:

"Westminster town clerk records (original handwritten page), Westminster town vital record book, and birth certificate obtained from Westminster town clerk's office indicate this date and place, and parents Benjamin and Abigail Sever."

7)  The Birth Record information now shows my input:

This source citation, and the evidence and analysis, input was fairly simple.  But it took some time to figure out just what to enter in the fields.  

The process will probably be a lot easier if the genealogy software (like RootsMagic 5 or another program) can add the source citation without the information for every Fact/Assertion being typed in by hand.

I have these concerns:

*  I think that the Source citations should be attached to the Event or Fact/Assertion rather than to the Person.  

*  I don't see a way to add more than one assertion for a given Fact/Event.  We don't always have direct evidence in primary information form that definitively identifies the name, date and place for an event, and this information is useful to draw a conclusion.

*  I'm curious as to how the genealogy software will add the different source elements in the software to the Family Tree fields.  All of my sources are "free-form" meaning that the information is not in separate title, author, web site, description, detail fields.  Some software has this information in source template fields that are unique to the source type being cited.  

I'm not going to take this series much further until some of the sourcing, merging, deleting and other issues are settled and included in the FamilySearch Family Tree.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver