Category: Tools

Genealogy obsession in Iceland opens academic doors.

As I’ve written in previous posts, much of human history has involved the management of relationships, marriages, etc. to safeguard against incestuous relationships, and has resulted in an impressive genealogy obsession in Iceland.
Genealogy obsession in Iceland

Genealogy obsession in Iceland opens academic doors.

Iceland, with its population of only 320,000, is one small corner of the globe that still deals with the issues of living in the shallow end of the gene pool, manifesting in today’s Icelanders’ preoccupation with genealogy and family history.

In one instance, a group of students from the University of Iceland engineering department created a smart phone app, allowing users to simply bump phones to see if they have a common ancestor, as well as if there’s a relationship and just how close it is.

Prior to the smart phone app, the “Book of Icelanders” (Islendingabok), has been the receptacle of genealogy records. Kári Stefánsson, an Icelandic neurologist, created a web-based version of the “Book of Icelanders” to provide constant access to its users. Kári Stefánsson and Fridrik Skulason claim to have documented 95% of Icelanders of the past three hundred years.

A benefit of the impressive job Icelanders have done tracing their family genealogies, is the extensive collection of data available for studies and experiments in many  disciplines including science, social studies, health and genetics.

Another example of the benefits of pursuing genealogy was described in my previous post “Owning a home: Military least likely and fire fighters more likely to own”. In this case, a statistical analysis of census data by Ancestry.com provided data to study home ownership trends over the past century.

Although the thoughts of the current and future benefits of genealogical study are pleasant ones, consider the negative – how would such caches of genealogical information have been used during WWII in Germany? The thought is truly frightening.

Previous posts about this topic are:

Icelandic Ancestry: the Icelandic genealogy database is now available online. 

Ingenius incest prevention app created by University of Iceland students.

The Science of husbandry on a human scale.

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Owning a home: Military least likely and fire fighters more likely to own.

New analysis from Ancestry.com reveals surprising connections between occupation and owning a home today and since 1900.
Owning a home and home ownership.

Owning a home: Military members least likely and fire fighters more likely to.

I found some of the findings described in the following press release by Ancestry.com surprising except for one – the statistic showing that military members are less likely to own a home.

Having been raised in a Canadian military family, economics was never the first consideration for military families when it came to buying a home, although it was very important. Considering the transient nature of military postings and transfers, it often made more sense to rent either from the military itself or private landlords because we never knew how long we would live somewhere before being transferred yet again.

Changing housing markets always were a major factor, making buying a home while in the military a huge gamble. Although a member may be able to buy a home in one location within their financial means, there was a huge risk of having to sell at a loss at a later date since the time to sell was never the choice of the home owner because they remained at the mercy of the military and were governed by their assignments and transfers.This loss could be greatly compounded if the new transfer location was a higher value housing market, pretty much eliminating the possibility of home ownership in the new location.

The possibility of inheriting property was made much more difficult, possibly resulting in the sale of the family property because of the inability of military families to live on their own property and support their homes near their bases.

The volatility of military living circumstances made it almost impossible to make the investment in a home until nearer the time of retirement, when plans were being made for the future outside military service.

PRESS RELEASE by Ancestry.com

PROVO, UT

(Marketwired – October 15, 2014)

Members of the armed services are among the least likely to own a home in the United States, according to a new analysis by Ancestry, the world’s largest online family history resource. Ancestry recently analyzed 112 years of U.S. Federal Census data to better understand the connection between occupation and owning a home across the nation over the last century. As of 2012, optometrists have the clearest line of sight to home ownership at 90%, while dancers and dance instructors have the lowest home ownership rate at just 23%.

Occupation has had a major impact on home ownership rates since 1900. While the typical size of a profession’s paycheck is an important factor in the rankings, it’s not the only one. There are many instances of a profession having a higher rate of home ownership than another that typically pays more. Some interesting findings from 2012:

Public service often pays off in terms of home ownership rates, except if you are in the armed forces. Fire fighters ranked #7 at 84%, and police officers and detectives #12 at 79%, compared to lawyers and judges who ranked #20 at 78%. Teachers were higher than economists (#45 at 74% versus #97, 64%).
Janitors and sextons had a rate about double that of waiters and waitresses (54% versus 27%).
It turns out that all artists are not starving. Sixty-three percent of artists and art teachers own homes, which is almost twice as high as dancers and dance teachers, which have the lowest rate of home ownership among any profession. Higher rates of home ownership were also seen among musicians and music teachers (62%), entertainers (57%) and authors (63%).
Some skilled professions that include many unionized workers had fairly high rates of home ownership, such as electricians at 73%, plumbers at 70% and power station operators at 87%.
Sixty-two (62) percent of editors and reporters owned homes in 2012, which is higher than almost every other analyzed decade.

Home ownership rates were at just 32% in 1900 and have doubled since then, but nearly all that growth came by 1960. “This kind of historical context is extremely valuable information for people researching their family history,” said Todd Godfrey, Head of Global Content at Ancestry. “Home ownership, occupation, and location are often key bits of information that can help bring the stories of our ancestors to life and greater illumination to the times in which they lived.”

With the stability of the housing market and the economy fluctuating drastically in recent years, occupations with specialized skills and heavy ties to the community fared the best. According to the analysis by Ancestry, top occupations for home ownership in the United States for 2012 are as follows:

Optometrists: 90%
Toolmakers and Die Makers/Setters: 88%
Dentists: 87%
Power Station Operators: 87%
Forgemen and Hammermen: 84%
Inspectors: 84%
Firemen: 84%
Locomotive Engineers: 84%
Airplane Pilots and Navigators: 83%
Farmers: 81%

“Firemen, dentists and farmers all play integral roles in their local community, so perhaps the need to root in the communities they serve has played a role in home ownership,” Godfrey said. “Firefighters have a deep love for the community they serve, farmers are tied to the land and optometrists and dentists have spent their careers building a clientele list tied to the community. It could also be a case of raising their families in the same homes they were raised in and their parents before them.”

Lower rates of home ownership.

From a list of nearly 200 occupations, the rate of home ownership in 2012 is as low as 23% for certain job types. While the professions with the very highest rate of home ownership weren’t necessarily those with the biggest paychecks, the majority of the professions with the worst rates of home ownership have a mean hourly wage of $13 or less. Job stability and job security also played a large role in how likely those in a given profession were to own a home.

As expected, many of the lowest ranking occupations don’t require higher education including cleaners, waiters, counter workers and cashiers–and have lower job stability. Though surprising at first, members of the armed forces are less likely to own a home due to ability/requirement to live on base, possible deployment or the average age skewing younger. The following are occupations with the lowest rate of home ownership in 2012:

Dancers and Dance Teachers: 23%
Motion Picture Projectionists: 27%
Waiters and Waitresses: 27%
Counter and Fountain Workers: 28%
Members of the Armed Forces: 33%
Service Workers (except private households): 34%
Bartenders: 35%
Charwomen and Cleaners: 35%
Cashiers: 36%
Cooks (except private households): 36%

Owning a home has been the dream of working men and women in the United States from the nation’s founding. For people from tool makers to optometrists to dancers, home ownership continues to be part of the American dream. To learn more about the Ancestry analysis of home ownership and occupation, visit http://ancstry.me/1ywaIkB.

____________________

SOURCE: Ancestry.com Operations Inc.

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We must know the genealogy questions before we can find the answers.

It has become increasingly apparent recently that there are two distinct schools of thought regarding quality and depth in genealogy research. There are the genealogists who believe in working only with well-sourced, proven information – and then there are those of us who started our genealogical quests simply for the pleasure of doing so. Before either camp can begin searching for answers, they much first know the genealogy questions.
must know the genealogy questions

We must know the genealogy questions before we can find the answers.

My own research (see my Blythe Database) started with a curiosity about our history because I grew up in a military family that moved a great deal, and therefore I had very little opportunity to meet with near and distant family members to learn family stories and lore.

I do agree with the article “Take time to produce well-sourced, quality work,” on the Genealogy Today site, in which they respond to another article by Sharon Tate Moody in the Tampa Tribune, entitled “Drive-by genealogists should learn a few rules.” I am one who looks at unsourced information as possible clues to breaking down brick walls and answering questions. Although the information itself may be unsourced and seen as questionable, it can be regarded as a clue. When I receive gedcoms from others, or access information online, I do not discard what could be valuable information simply because there are no sources cited. I note the information, making it part of my own database, intending to return to it, find and cite concrete sources as I can.  Yes, I’ve found mistakes, but I have also found wonderful information allowing me to enlarge upon my family’s own stories.

I believe in the researchers’ responsibility for assessing the quality of the data they receive from others. I never take sources cited by others at face value, always working to find the sources cited and attach concrete proof in the form of images, etc.

Although a great deal of the Blythe Database attached to this site is not sourced, the majority of it is – the result of tireless work and ever increasing expense over 15 years. I have a clearly stated ‘Data Quality’ disclaimer linked in the upper horizontal menu of every page and post, and it states:

“The Blythe Database is my genealogy research in its entirety and is an ongoing process. I spend a minimum of four hours a day researching sources to verify data.

I have been researching genealogy for over fifteen years and you will note that I classify all sources by quality. If it is a poor quality source it is clearly indicated as such…

…It is common for there to be gaps in data and sources and in these cases I will use the individual anyway and either leave sources blank (indicating no sources found) or will clearly indicate source quality. It is up to the person using the data to use the information as classified.

I continually search out sources and documents to verify data and improve on substantiation. I have made some of my best discoveries using unsourced data as a starting point and I would hate for those clues to not be available.

This site is an effort to provide open, free sharing of genealogical information. However, all information is only as good as the sources cited.

I will gladly make corrections to data providing the information provided can be substantiated by the submitter with a source…”

Let’s face it: it’s quickly getting to the point where information gleaned from others will rarely include sources, images, etc. as more and more researchers become protective of their data. I understand as I struggle with my decision to openly share ALL of my information, but ultimately feel I’ve made the right decision, hopefully promoting more open and cooperative sharing of data by others as well.

Genealogy is a passion for me – and others. I enjoy the hunt as much as finding those elusive facts and sources. Maybe it’s my inner detective struggling to get out. Whatever the reason, my database will always have a substantial amount of unsourced data as I continually stumble upon new and hopefully ‘breakthrough’ information. I do, however, spend as much time as I can finding evidence and sources, but find (and I’m sure others do as well) that each new discovery raises numerous new questions, and finding those answers takes a great deal of time and effort.

There will never be an end to my quest…

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FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Updates and Additions – 14 Oct 2014

Sorry for the large gap. I’m in the process of doing some experimental performance of this site which has demanded much of my attention in the past couple of weeks. Finally, though, here are the FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Updates and Additions to October 14, 2014.

 

FamilySearch.org Updates and Additions
Ancestry.com Updates and Additions.

FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Updates and Additions.

Australia

Belgium

Canada

Colombia

Ghana

India

Indonesia

Italy

New Zealand

Slovakia

Spain

United Kingdom

United States

Worldwide

 

Ancestry.com Updates and Additions

Australia

Bermuda

Canada

Hungary

Netherlands

United Kingdom

United States

I’d like to see an open and free exchange of genealogical data.

Ideally, I’d like to see an open and free exchange of genealogical data.

I’ve long been a proponent of the open and free exchange of genealogy data to ensure ready access to information for everyone researching their family history.

This morning, however, I read “Cooperation Makes Records Available for Free” at FamilySearch.org and it made me think.

As much as I’d like all genealogical data to be free, I can understand someone wishing to recover their costs of researching the data.

Database profile for Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky, including references to numerous images, documents and sources. (Click on the image to see in full size.)

Although the costs of genealogy research have reduced considerably over the past two decades due to computers and the increasing availability of records, images and data online, we’re seeing a correlating increase in sites online offering valuable data for a fee of some kind, making free data harder to find.

FamilySearch.org is one of the few sites still offering data for free.

In my case, ALL of my data (including images, sources and documents) is available online for free download. I do not charge for anything. I do, however, make revenue from ad clicks and sponsored posts on my sites. The end result is that, at least at present, I can offer all of my data for free as the ads pay for the upkeep and maintenance of my sites – for the most part.

There is a delicate balance here, though. As long as I can afford to offer this information free of charge it will remain so. If there comes a point where I have to recover my costs, I will have to either charge for downloads or remove the site from the internet altogether. Rest assured that this is not anywhere in the foreseeable future.

I’ve also seen a marked increase in the amount of personal genealogy data online that is ‘locked’ or marked ‘private’. I have contacted the owners of such data and in most cases they have been very forthcoming and willing to exchange information. In a few cases, however, the owner can be very protective of their data and will not make it available. Luckily, these appear to be few and far between at present.

I welcome the exchange of data offered by anyone doing genealogy research. It is important that this information remain available. One caveat, however, is to ALWAYS categorize the data as it appears when received. If there are no sources attached, it is questionable at best and it is important to use this information as ‘clues’ to further finds. Do not take this information at face value.

I have a very large database and about half of the data is sourced, while about half is not. I am constantly actively seeking and adding sources to prove the data.

I have received some criticism for this. One researcher contacted me about a particular line of information because it was claimed I had a place name incorrect. Little did this person know I had lived in the area for 21 years and knew it very well. To say this person was hostile is putting it mildly. I couldn’t believe it when it was demanded that I remove the lines pertaining to HER RESEARCH as she was the researcher of this family and I had no business researching it since our connection was only by remarriage, adoption and the birth of half-siblings. She also demanded that I remove anything that was not sourced or proven. To do as she demanded would break up lines and create gaps, leaving me without clues to search for sources to prove the information I do have and fill the gaps.

As I stated above, a good portion of my data is accumulated through free exchange of information, including the import of gedcoms of other peoples’ research. The sources (or lack thereof) remain as they have cited them, but I do search for actual copies of listed sources to attach where possible. I leave unsourced data as I receive it until I can research it further and I categorize any sources I have confirmed or added.

It is important to realize that cooperation and goodwill among researchers is essential to keeping the lines of communication and free flow of information open. Once we start becoming territorial and protective of our data, we contribute to the scarcity of information and increased costs for all.

Again, although such data can be invaluable as clues to further research, it is important to note that all sources are only as good as the attachments and assessed quality.

Heredis 2014 genealogy software: Only $10.99 US until Sunday.

Heredis is offering their Heredis 2014 genealogy software for a special deal for three days only, until Sunday.

Heredis Genealogy Software LogoOf all of the genealogy software packages out there, there is one in particular that has always piqued my interest – Heredis 2014.

You may think the circumstances of this post strange (and you’d be right), but even though I don’t use Heredis 2014, I do love it.

Why is that, you ask?

Each and every time Heredis has upgraded their software, I’ve downloaded a trial version to check on one thing they need to change. Have they made Heredis 2014 capable of accepting custom date formats?

In my case, our family genealogy is extensively Quaker and therefore the dates are usually in the original recorded format of the time: i.e. 30d 7m 1732.

While I was using the software trial, I fell in love with it.

It’s a beautiful program and I’d love to be able to use it. The problem is that in genealogy it is always recommended to record birth dates in their original format to avoid errors through conversion. Date conversion can be complicated and confusing, and many mistakes are easily made.

Due to this issue, I have and still do use RootsMagic because it does allow entry of custom dates with a converted sort date entered in the background. However, I would switch in a second if Heredis ever made custom date entry possible.

I have corresponded with Heredis after each and every update about this very issue and even went so far as to send them a sample of my genealogy for them to get a look at the date setup, at their request. Nothing has ever changed.

If you’re one of the millions of genealogists who deal with old time, Quaker or custom date formats, I would not recommend this software.

It is possible to use this software with custom dates if the original date is entered in the notes for the event. This is more than I’m willing to deal with. If you don’t mind the hassle, and would like to use a beautiful genealogy software, then by all means give Heredis 2014 a try.

Heredis 2014 is available on their site in both Mac and Windows versions.

photo credit: Heredis