Monday, March 31, 2014

Family Tree Issues discussed on Mondays With Myrt for 31 March

Almost every Monday, Pat Richley-Erickson (AKA DearMYRTLE) moderates a lively discussion in a Google+ Hangout On Air called Mondays With Myrt.  The video is archived by Google+ on YouTube, and can be watched during or after the live event on DearMYRTLE's YouTube Channel (

This morning's Mondays With Myrt can be watched on YouTube at, or below:

Comments from the YouTube community and the Google+ DearMYRTLE's Genealogy Community page can be read, and responded to, at (you do need to be registered on Google+ - it's free).

There can be up to ten persons on the panel who discuss the issues of the day, and Pat asks each panelist before the broadcast begins what they might want to talk about in the "green room."  Pat's cousin and fellow geneablogger Russ Worthington manage the broadcast, making sure the camera is on the speaker, showing their screens, and monitoring the comments in the community.  I try to be on the panel on most Mondays and enjoy the conversation.

The discussion today had several items for discussion - Pat's blog post at shared her plans.  But the conversation often expands to topics not covered, and sometimes doesn't get to all of the planned issues.

The discussion items today included:

1)  Cynthia asked: "We are encouraged to add hyperlinks to websites and records in our source citations.  What happens if that link is not there any more?"

Several of us responded - Russ Worthington noted that most source citations in Evidence Explained have only the host website URL, rather than the specific URL for a specific record.  He also noted that the Internet Archive Wayback Machine often has some of the web pages from an inactive or removed website.  The "Access date" in the source citation is useful also.

My comment was that I only add hyperlinks to the host site (e.g., or, but that I try to add a breadcrumb trail - the "Waypoints" - to help a reader of my source citation find the specific record (e.g., I try to quote the database, a specific volume of a set of digitized book, then the page number and image number).

Pat added that Thomas W. Jones in Mastering Genealogical Proof suggests including source citation elements for Who, What, When, Where In, and Where At.

2)  Cynthia's second question was "Are future generations going to be able to access our information?"

Hilary Gadsby in Wales offered that GEDCOM files provide a way to share information with other researchers.

Russ Worthington suggested adding information to an online family tree like or FamilySearch Family Tree so that the tree is available for other researchers to access.

Pat has an issue with putting her current, unproven, research into a public or searchable online family tree.  She's concerned that someone may collect her information that turns out to be erroneous, and she'll get a bad reputation.

I noted that I made a decision several years ago that I would use free-form source citations because I want to be able to transfer my tree file to other software programs and online trees so that my sources don not get mangled.  Source citations created by source templates in genealogy software (like RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree and Family Tree Maker which use Evidence Explained template models) use special GEDCOM codes to incorporate the EE source template features, and the other programs, or online trees, won't recognize them.  Therefore, I use the free-form source citation template in the software to add a "Master Source" portion and a "Citation Detail" portion and those transfer fine in GEDCOM  to everything else.  The drawback is that they are not "perfect" as to the Evidence Explained format.

Ann Royal suggested that using a Private Ancestry Member Tree, even with a "don't make this database searchable" option, works well, and the owner can invite others to collaborate and share information in order to drive to a conclusion that can be added to a Public Member Tree.  During this discussion, Pat showed how easy it was to start a new Ancestry Member Tree and make it public or private, and searchable or not-searchable.  Ann also noted that when you find a Private Member Tree with information you might need, you can message them and request the information they have.

3)  Pat noted that: "You wrote about having a problem with other researchers using your online information in their online trees without attribution."  I described my blog post (Should I Add My Own Family Stories to my Ancestry Member Tree?) and Judy G. Russell's commentary on it (in Courtesy, ethics and law).  There were several comments in the community:

*  Cyndy Bray said:  "I had this happen that someone told me, not very nicely, to take something down.  I did that.  I did not know that I was infringing on a copyright.   I'm thinking there are many people like me that just didn't know and when given an explanation will change behavior."

*  Bill West commented:  "I had one of my blogposts show up in 12 different trees on Ancestry without crediting my blog as the source. I wrote them all emails. Only 3 added my name to the story. "

*  June Butka commented:  "I make every attempt to request permission to use any "public" list photos or stories before adding them to my tree. 90-95% of the people respond that I have permission to use. The other percent haven't logged in for years. I haven't used those photos or stories. I'm not sure where to go from there to find permission."

*  Andrew Hatchett offered:  "There is no doubt whatsoever that the major Genealogy Sites fail to put enough emphasis on Copyright info to train newbies as to the proper handling. It is usually buried someplace the newbie may only see it once."

*  Bruce Cortis added:  "My pet peeve is people who refuse to share by making their trees private but fell perfectly fine using my data. "

4)  Pat asked if we had seen Thomas MacEntee's blog post about Genealogy and Family History Industry – Boom or Bust? and the impact of technology on genealogy.  Pat noted how the younger generations don't want to read books or journals or watch 90 minutes of Mondays With Myrt.

Dave Robison noted that genealogists he encounters as a teacher encompass a broad range of persons with a variety of styles and skills.  Some can't find a website or know what a right-click is, and others are technology and social media whizzes.  Russ said the latter want it in 140 characters (ala Twitter).

Pat noted that "Cloud Technology" is the current standard and will be used more and more.  The Internet is now the World Book encyclopedia, and book encyclopedias are obsolete.  But not everyone has the same skills.

5)  Pat showed how to join a Google+ Community and some of the features of Google+ including finding people and groups.

6)  Pat highlighted Bernice Bennett's new book (with four other authors), Our Ancestors, Our Stories about African-American memory keepers in South Carolina.  The "official" history of South Carolina was written by the slave owners and did not include slave families and their descendants.  The research principles used by the authors for their stories are what all researchers and authors should employ.

7)  This 100 minutes of conversation about genealogy is unique at the present time - and may be the future of genealogy collaboration.  Google+ Hangouts, and Hangouts On Air (which are archived on YouTube), are free and could be used for family discussions, genealogical society board meetings or presentations, and much more.  My thanks to Pat and Russ and everyone else involved for making this possible and enjoyable.  I look forward to the opportunity each Monday morning at 9 a.m. Pacific time (your time may vary!).

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Cousin Russ said...


Great summary of another awesome Mondays with Myrt. Thank you.

You pointed out the benefits of having the comments in one place, is that 1) we can include the comments from the Community, the VIEWers, during the conversation that the JOINers are having, and 2) be able to go back and read the comments that you so nicely brought into your blog post.

As you know, Dear MYRTLE wants to have conversation with all of us, the community is the way that has worked for over a year. The community continues to grow, and the conversation continues before, during and after the live show.

We learn from each other.

Thank you for sharing your experience of today's Monday with Myrt.


T said...

What Bruce Cortis said: "My pet peeve is people who refuse to share by making their trees private but fell perfectly fine using my data. "

And if you are not paid up at ancestry you can not contact those tree owners; you can't even click the tree YOUR information got copied to, to see what they did with it.

Scott said...

Thanks for this excellent summary of yesterday's Mondays with Myrt session. I try to watch these as much as I can, but two hours is a big chunk of time. I feel like I got the gist of the conversation in a few minutes and didn't have to watch the whole two hours. But now I probably will watch it to get the details now that I know the main topics that were discussed.

Thanks again!