Thursday, 31 July 2014

3-2-1 Cite Challenge July

So after DearMYRTLE did a Wacky Wednesday hangout showing how easy it was to help with indexing at Family Search and with the Worldwide Indexing day in the offing I signed up to start indexing. I have tried to keep the post short but 1 paragraph per project was as short as I could manage.

3 Projects

US, Mississippi—Enumeration of Educable Children, 1850–1892, 1908–1957 [Part A]

US, Florida—Obituaries, 1980–2014 [Part C]

UK, Manchester—Parish Registers, 1787–1999 [Part A]


Although this challenge only required the submission of 2 batches I have to date submitted a total of 724 records and over 20 batches.
The Enumeration of Educable Children was a typed document easy to read but after arbitration I realised I had not read the instructions for the project thoroughly and included surnames for children which were not specified in the document.
I tried an English batch which was marked at advanced and struggled as it was handwritten and appeared to be written in Latin. I returned this batch for someone more experienced. The other English batch was a beginner's level and these are handwritten on pre-printed pages. Some have a birth date and a baptism date recorded on the page which could cause confusion. I have feedback on some entries including one where I thought a name should be Ritchie but because the t was not crossed it read as Rilchie it has been arbitrated as Ritchie.
I have submitted several different batches of obituaries and they can all be different. Even within batches each image may have variable amounts of extractable data. The biggest problems I had with obituaries are maiden names for women, or a sentence such as Lynn wife of John Snow should Lynn be recorded with the surname Snow or just the first name.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group 2 Chapter 7 Homework

Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. 

[Book available from the publisher at 

Chapter 7: Genealogical Proof Standard Element 5: The Written Conclusion

This is the point at which we know whether we have fulfilled the requirements of the other elements of the genealogical proof standard.

We cannot write any conclusion until we have an answer for our research question.

The written conclusion will need to pull together the other elements to show that we have met what is needed to prove our answer.

Proof Statement

Straightforward answers which require no resolution of conflict and can be answered by direct evidence from reliable original sources may be answered by the use of a proof statement citing all relevant sources. A statement should be clear and concise and is often included as part of a longer discussion such as in a written family history.

Proof Summary

If an answer requires more explanation than a single sentence or short paragraph it is considered to be a proof summary. This may require explanation for conflicts in the supporting evidence.

Proof Argument

When you get to more complex cases where the evidence is not direct and inference is required it is necessary to write a proof argument which may require piecing together complex information to make a case for the conclusion.

Clear Writing

However we write a conclusion we need to ensure clarity to avoid ambiguity and misunderstanding.
The research process should not be part of the discussion. We should only use the present tense for items or persons still in existence, care should be taken not to mix tenses or personalise with the use of I or me.

These points are discussed in more detail in the book. 
Whilst it is important to get the conclusion right, we should not stop ourselves from writing conclusions based on our current level of knowledge.

You may feel that your conclusion would benefit from that extra piece of information, but if you are not in a position to obtain that source of information at present, then write something based on what you have and include a note that you think something may, change or reinforce your conclusion. 
If something was to happen, you will have left your work so that someone else could continue and follow your thinking.
Having lots of sources and no conclusions is not helpful to anyone.

As we reach the end of our Study Group discussions, we should all aim to get those proof statements written.

Start your proof summaries where there is conflicting evidence.

Determine what needs that further analysis and how can it be broken down into easy chunks.

You cannot do everything at once, long proof arguments can be broken down, into smaller statements and summaries, then brought together to build the argument. 

We should approach our work in this way.

Otherwise we can overwhelm ourselves with the quantity of time and effort required.

Start small and gradually make bigger.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group 2 Chapter 6 Homework

Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. 

[Book available from the publisher at 

Chapter 6: 

Genealogical Proof Standard Element 4: Resolving Conflicts and Assembling Evidence

  1. We have conflicting evidence when 2 or more items providing evidence are not in agreement.
  2. If we wish to proof our hypothesis then all the evidence to support this must be in agreement or we must explain why we think there is disagreement or we think that the evidence supports one conclusion compared to another.
The other questions deal with discussing the analysis of the evidence and the types of evidence that are in conflict. In another post I have discussed conflicting direct evidence the conclusion of which looks at the reliability of the evidence and the time frame for when the information was recorded.
Please see my post on dealing with conflicting information  

In evaluating any conflicts it is important that all factors are taken into consideration, even eyewitness accounts can be false, if the person reporting the information has a reason to hide the truth. Being unable to determine where the information originated can make that information appear as hearsay, which is why it is important to cite sources accurately, and to discuss and review any factors which may have a bearing on the validity of the information.
Analysis & correlation are essential ingredients when deciding whether there are any serious conflicts which require explanation as we assemble the evidence needed to write our conclusions. A clear understanding of why, what, when, who by and for what purpose a record was created comes with experience and if necessary additional reading around the subject area. Beginners cannot expect to fully understand all the records they may need to use, and this may mean that to truly reach a conclusion may in some cases take years.

This next Sunday 27th April 2014 we shall be discussing The Written Conclusion which should help pull together why we need all 5 parts of the Genealogical Proof Standard and why all parts are interdependent.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Dealing with Conflicting Information

This post is a follow on from my previous post about the parents of my grandmother Florence Ann Compton. If you have not read that post I suggest you read it first to give you the background information

Sunday 13th April 2014 we discussed conflicts in the Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group 2 hangout on air at DearMyrtle's genealogy Community on Google+ and I briefly mentioned I would be doing this follow up post.

The 3-2-1 Cite challenge involved me using 3 sources to inform my assertion that the parents of my grandmother Florence Ann Compton were Edmund John Compton and Thirza Ann nee Robbins.
However these were not the only sources I had available.
All genealogists need to take all the available evidence and assemble it so that they can analyse it and review any conflicts.

So what other sources did I have and do I have any conflicts that need to be resolved.
I have assembled the information in chronological order and highlighted my conflict in the spreadsheet.

Almost all of the information in the documents is in agreement.

Many who have more than one forename will not use their first name or prefer to use a middle name. This appears to be the case for both Edmund and Thirza with both being recorded as John and Ann at some point in the records.

The records where information was given by others, close to her date of birth and the dates when her parents died, all seem to be in agreement, as spelling and using only one of 2 forenames, are minor conflicts. 

But when Florence Ann Compton married at the age of 26 her father was recorded as Walter John Compton (deceased). 

There was a Walter John Compton and he had indeed died before 1927. He had been responsible for Florence Ann Compton when she left the orphanage at 16 years of age.

below are 2 of the 48 orphanage documents. 
A letter from her brother and the discharge from the orphanage to explain how I know this to be true.

Walter would have been responsible for her up until his death during the flu epidemic post WW1. 

Since the most reliable evidence was recorded at the time of her birth when both parents were still alive, it seems reasonable to state that the incorrect information she gave at the time of her marriage was due to the fact that she barely knew her parents as she was orphaned at the age of six.
The only parent figure she would have likely remembered would be her eldest brother Walter John Compton.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group 2 Chapter 5 Homework

Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. 
[Book available from the publisher at 

Chapter 5: Genealogical Proof Standard Element 3: Analysis and Correlation

    1. The source is a derivative.
    2. The informant is believed to be Ida May (née Tucker) (McLain) Leach.
    3. The information regarding the birth date is primary information.
    4. The source provides direct evidence that he was born on February 4th 1876.
    5. This source provides indirect evidence for a divorce prior to March 29th 1878.
    6. This source was created as a family record.
    7. This source was likely created after 29th September 1893 the date of the last entry more than 23 years after the birth.  It appeared to have been created at a single point in time which must have been after the last event recorded.
    8. There are blotches on the page and the pages were loose indicating the record keeper could have shown more care when creating the record but the document is generally legible.
    9. There is no way of verifying who wrote the entry and any challenge to what is recorded would have to be verified with other records in order to challenge or correct any erroneous information. This can only be done if reliable official records exist where the informant is unlikely to have lied.
    10. The Family Record has nothing which could protect it from bias or fraud and from the copy it is difficult to confirm that the source has not been tampered with although the citation would indicate that there had been no tampering .
    11. The informant was a witness but the record was made at a time distant from many of the events so the memory of these distant events may been impaired.
    12. Although the informant was a credible witness to all the recorded events we do not know enough of the background with this one document to consider whether she had reasons not to record them accurately. Her memory of the earlier events could be such as to invalidate the record, additional records for birth and marriage dates, independently recorded, would help verify what this document states, and even if not all the events can be verified, confirming any that can could strengthen the case for the others being correct.
This question requires tabulation of information from 2 census records. The images in the book do not show all the information discussed in the answer as they have been cropped from the original. Therefore I shall leave this question and discuss the correlation of census results in a later post on this blog.
For both this question on the next we are looking at ways in which we can correlate information items so that we can build our conclusion and identify any conflicts. I wish to look at these in relation to research I would be doing in the UK and think that yet again this would be better dealt with in a separate post.

I hope to get the other blog post completed before we discuss the written conclusion after Easter as I want to highlight some differences in the UK which readers in the US or elsewhere may not have encountered.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Florence Ann Compton was orphaned who were her parents?


Family history is all about establishing relationships and we use a selection of records to "prove" the members of a family.
In this post I want to discuss some documents I have used to answer the following question.
Who were the parents of my grandmother Florence Ann Compton.


In order to meet the challenge of 3-2-1 CITE I will only discuss 3 documents even though there are others in my collection that may further support my proof argument.

What the documents say about the family relationship

  1. The census document has the head of the household at 6 King Street, Warminster as Edmond or Edward Jno Compton and his wife is Thurza Ann. The children are listed as Walter Jno 9, Sidney Herbert 7, Stanley James 5, Ernest Roy 3 and Florence Ann 1 mo.
  2. The birth certificate shows the birth on 17th February 1901 of Florence Ann Compton daughter of Edmund John and Thirza Ann Compton formerly Robbins at 6 King Street, Warminster.
  3. The baptism at Christ Church Warminster on May 16th of Florence Annie daughter of Edmund John and Thirza Ann Compton, 7 King Street.

The Evidence 

The census record indicates that Florence Ann Compton was born in February or March 1901 as the 1901 census was taken on 31st March 1901. The names of her parents differ only slightly in terms of spelling to those given on the birth certificate and in the parish magazine. The census and birth registration would have been recorded on consecutive days by different officials. The baptism was recorded within 2 months of the other records and all three are contemporary with the birth. In the case of the census and the birth the informant may have been the same person, the father and head of the household. The informant for the baptism may have been one of the church officials either clergy or lay member or taken from the baptismal register.
The information on the birth certificate and census regarding the residence is in agreement and the parish magazine only differs by number, which is possibly due to confusion regarding numbering or incorrectly recorded in a baptismal register. (I have been to the street and know that I was unable to find number 6.)


Florence Ann Compton was the daughter of Edmund John Compton and Thirza Ann Compton (nee Robbins).
The actual baptism register would be a more reliable source than the parish magazine and obtaining a copy would further support this proof.


  1. 1901 census of England, Wiltshire, Warminster, Christchurch parish, folio 37 recto, p.9, household 53, Edmond Compton; digital image, Find My Past ( : accessed 5th April 2014) ; citing PRO RG13 /1943
  2. Register of Births Warminster Registration District, Certified Copy of Entry 184 for Florence Ann Compton, 1901, issued 21st October 1907, digital image: [created 2nd October 2003]
  3. Parish magazines for Warminster, Wiltshire, June 1901, page 2, Baptism May 16th Florence Annie Compton, digital image, ( : accessed 10th April 2014); 

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group 2 Chapter 4 Homework

Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. 

[Book available from the publisher at 

Chapter 4: Genealogical Proof Standard Element 2: Source Citations

As with previous homework I have given this a slant from a UK researcher's perspective.

This is an area that I struggle with despite understanding the theory.
I think part of the problem is a lack of credible examples of recognized sources. Evidence Explained (1) barely touches on the sources that I have regularly used in my research and when it does I do not find the citations helpful, particularly as they refer to only one repository for information which may exist in more than one place.

Births, Deaths and Marriages in England and Wales from 1st July 1837 were recorded as Civil Registration events at a local level by registrars, or in the case of marriages performed in Churches or other places permitted to perform such ceremonies they were recorded by the celebrant. In all cases at least 2 registers were kept. Churches keep a record of marriages and send a copy to the registrar and the registrar sends copies of his register to the General Register Office. This makes for a high possibility of errors in one or more entry. It seems unreasonable, given the expense, to get copies of all entries, and even then unless they are a facsimile they are also open to error, so most researchers will gather a selection of certificates from originals to derivative copies made by a clerk copying an entry from a register.

My last statement makes it clear that certificates used extensively by researchers in England and Wales will not have a common source even though the information contained within should be identical. The importance of quoting the source correctly is more significant when considering the analysis of the evidence and the reliability of the source.

I have attempted to show examples in the shared spreadsheet for some of the commonly used sources, I hope to add more later, and would welcome any comments. I am unsure as to whether shortening some of the information would be acceptable but I have also included a link to a page I found on the website of The National Archives which I hope others will find useful.

  1. Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, Evidence Explained:Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 2nd Edition (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007)