Tag: sources

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…

photo credit: droetker0912 via photopin cc

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.

Permanently label media and files with identifying information.

A very large part of my genealogical research over the past twenty years has produced thousands of photographs and other images and naming and cataloging these files required me to permanently label media files with identifying information.
Permanently label media files with identifying information. Insert cursor to the right of the 'Comments' line and a scroll box appears. Enter relevant data in the 'Comments' box and click 'OK' to save and exit.

Permanently label media files with identifying information. Insert cursor to the right of the ‘Comments’ line and a scroll box appears. Enter relevant data in the ‘Comments’ box and click ‘OK’ to save and exit.

I have developed a system over the past few years that has been invaluable to me.

I did not develop this universal system until many years after beginning my research. Therefore there are numerous files in my database that do not follow this, but as I edit individuals and data, I change the file names and comments entries as I go along.

Key points in this system are:

File Comments Section

  • On the file being named and labelled:
    • Right click on the file in the list
    • Select ‘Properties’
    • Select the ‘Details’ tab
    • Insert cursor to the right of the ‘Comments’ line and a scroll box appears.
    • Enter relevant data in the ‘Comments’ box and click ‘OK’ to save and exit.

File Names


Commas (,) separate data for an individual while a semi-colon (;) separates different individuals. The last name appearing first enables sorting file lists alphabetically with last name first. Otherwise, a file search can be done.

  • Individual persons
    • Last name, First and Middle Names, birth date (i.e. Smith, George Walter, b. 1961.jpg).
    • The addition of the birth date enables identifying an individual when there is more than one with the same name.
  • Married couples
    • Husband’s last name, first name; wife’s last name (if different), first name (i.e. Smith, George; Christine.jpg; Smith, George Walter; Foster, Samantha.jpg).
    • In the comments section I list individuals from left rear to right front or clockwise, as they appear in the image.
  • Family groups
    • Father’s last name, first name; wife’s last name (if different), first name; children’s last name (if different), first name (i.e. Smith, George Walter; Samantha; Grace; John.jpg).
    • In the comments section I list individuals from left rear to right front or clockwise, as they appear in the image.
    • If the group is too large to include all names, I list individuals in detail in the comments section of the file data in order from left rear to right front.
  • Groups of miscellaneous people.
    • Each individual’s last name, first name, b. date (if more than one with the name); last name, first name; etc. (i.e. Smith, George Walter; Davidson, Thomas; Foster, Helen).
    • If there are too many to include in the file name, start on the left rear and work to the front right or clockwise, with as many names as possible (i.e. Smith, George Walter; Samantha; Grace; John and family and friends.jpg).
    • If the group is too large to include all names, I list individuals in detail in the comments section of the file data.
  • Places, buildings, etc.
    • List the place data in the file name as follows: Country, State or Province, County, City or Town (i.e. Chilliwack Senior Secondary School; Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada.jpg).
    • In the comments section, I list as stated followed by the street address and any other pertinent information (i.e. landmark name, owner, date, background information).
Source Images
  • Individual records (i.e. birth, marriage, death, etc.).
    • For the file name list the last name, first name – record type, relevant date (i.e. Smith, George; Death Record; December 12, 1911.jpg).
    • In the comments section, also include all other relevant data for identification purposes (i.e. place, other people mentioned, etc.).
  • Group records that include several individuals (i.e. censuses, tax rolls, passenger lists, etc.).
    • For the file name list the head of household’s last name, first and middle names, birth date if more than one individual with that name – record type, country, state or province, county, city or town, street address, household (i.e. Smith, George A, b. 1872; 1850 US Census; Beekmantown, Clinton, New York.jpg).
    • Whatever does not fit in the file name can be included in the comments section of the file.

FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Updates and Additions to January 3, 2014

FamilyFamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Updates and AdditionsSearch.org and Ancestry.com Updates and Additions to January 3, 2014

Family Search.org


United Kingdom

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Agreement between Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org will enable future release of billions of records.

Agreement between Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.orgAgreement between Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org will enable future release of billions of records.

I rarely print press releases since I want this blog to resemble your local community genealogy center or club, where information, data and sources are made freely available and those involved in the pursuit of genealogy can communicate with me and with each other.

The last thing I want is for this blog to become just a ‘news’ website.

In this case, however, this press release is concerning an agreement between Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org that will make billions of records available and accessible online, making the experience of researching our family trees and ancestry even more productive and enjoyable. You can read more in the press release below.

Ancestry.com and FamilySearch to Make a Billion Global Records Available Online

Groundbreaking Agreement to Deliver Valuable Historical Content Over the Next Five Years

PROVO, Utah, Sept. 5, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ancestry.com and FamilySearch International (online at FamilySearch.org), the two largest providers of family history resources, announced today an agreement that is expected to make approximately 1 billion global historical records available online and more easily accessible to the public for the first time. With this long-term strategic agreement, the two services will work together with the archive community over the next five years to digitize, index and publish these records from the FamilySearch vault.

The access to the global collection of records marks a major investment in international content as Ancestry.com continues to invest in expanding family history interest in its current markets and worldwide. Ancestry.com expects to invest more than $60 million over the next five years in the project alongside thousands of hours of volunteer efforts facilitated by FamilySearch.

“This agreement sets a path for the future for Ancestry.com and FamilySearch to increasingly share international sets of records more collaboratively,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO of Ancestry.com. “A significant part of our vision for family history is helping provide a rich, engaging experience on a global scale. We are excited about the opportunities it will bring to help benefit the family history community and look forward to collaborating with FamilySearch to identify other opportunities to help people discover and share their family history.”

The organizations will also be looking at other ways to share content across the two organizations. Both organizations expect to add to the already digitized records shared across the two websites in addition to new record projects to be completed over the next five years.

“We are excited to work with Ancestry.com on a vision we both share,” said Dennis Brimhall, President of FamilySearch. “Expanding online access to historical records through this type of collaboration can help millions more people discover and share their family’s history.”

This marks a groundbreaking agreement between the two services. But the two organizations aren’t strangers to working with each other; hundreds of millions of records have already been shared and are available on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. The companies also announced in early 2013 an additional project where they plan to publish 140 million U.S. Wills & Probate images and indexes over the next three years—creating a national database of wills and other probate documents spanning 1800-1930 online for the very first time.

About Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com is the world’s largest online family history resource with approximately 2.7 million paying subscribers across all its websites. More than 11 billion records have been added to the Ancestry.com sites and users have created more than 50 million family trees containing more than 5 billion profiles. In addition to its flagship site www.ancestry.com, the company operates several Ancestry international websites along with a suite of online family history brands, including Archives.com, Fold3.com and Newspapers.com, all designed to empower people to discover, preserve and share their family history.

About FamilySearch

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,800 family history centers in 70 countries, including the renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements. These statements relate to future events and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors that may cause the Company’s actual results, levels of activity, performance, or achievements to be materially different from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by the use of words such as “appears,” “may,” “designed,” “expect,” “intend,” “focus,” “seek,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” “should,” “continue” or “work” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology. These forward-looking statements are based on information available to the Company as of the date of this press release. Forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated by these forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include our ability to acquire and digitize new content, to provide desired content and product features to new and current subscribers and to otherwise satisfy customer expectations regarding the content of the collection, now and in the future. Information concerning additional factors that could cause events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements is contained under the caption “Risk Factors” in our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarterly period ended June 30, 2013, and in discussions in other of our Securities and Exchange Commission filings. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing our views as of any subsequent date and we assume no obligation to publicly update or revise these forward-looking statements.


Blythe Genealogy Database update and repair is now complete.

Mark-Blythe-to-Barack-Obama-Relationship-Chart_11-583x10241.gifUpdate, August 1, 2013:

The links from within my posts of transcriptions to images and individuals are now reset and functional, and the images, documents and sources on my Blythe Database are now working correctly. If you find a broken link, just enter the  Blythe Database also linked in upper horizontal menu), and go to the surname search to find individuals, or photos to find media and sources.


Update, July 26, 2013:

Because I had to reinstall the site completely, the links from within my posts of transcriptions to images and individuals are not functional. I am in the process of updating the links but it will take a while as there are a lot of them. If you find a broken link, just enter the Blythe Database (also linked in upper horizontal menu), and go to the surname search to find individuals, or photos to find media and sources.


In a previous post I described the problems I was having with Family Tree Maker 2012 (FTM 2012) and how I was trying to  work around it.

As mentioned in that post, I worked to re-convert the gedcom file from FTM 2012 to be used in RootsMagic 6 as I had decided to return to it. Despite my fickle nature and several attempts to take advantage of newer technology and features in several other programs, I end up returning to RootsMagic 6 every time.

In other programs I tried,  I had issues with custom dates, facts and events; image and media handling, etc. Although they were good in some areas, tere  was always something lacking that was crucial to how I do my genealogy.

FTM 2012, however, was by far worse as it actually caused damage to my original data in that I was never consistently able to do backups or export to gedcoms. In the end, after six months of use, I couldn’t export to gedcom at all,  and this is crucial for use of the data in other software and on my Blythe Genealogy Database website.

Due to the problems I’ve been working on fixing, my Blythe Genealogy Database site has been severely affected for a couple of weeks now. Images were not being linked properly to individuals, sources or events, making it difficult to access images and sources directly from the database entries. Instead, images could only be accessed through the main ‘Media’ link, search, and list.

Today, after several unsuccessful attempts to rectify the situation without having to delete the database and start from scratch,  I finally broke down and did just that.

The database is now a brand new tree and import, and the links and data are all up to date and functional.

I do apologize for the inconvenience to those of  you who had difficulty accessing information you were looking for. By all means, please try again now and you should have no problems. The image below shows how the website pages now look with the images and links set up properly. (Click the image for full size view.)

Sample Blythe Database page.