Monday, 18 April 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 6 and The Research Plan

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 6: Mindmapping Records    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 6: Mindmapping Records,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 17 April 2016).        

Based on the Settlement Examination I referred to in Lesson 5 I have created a Mindmap showing where I will go next in the research for this ancestor and her ancestors using the information found in the document.

If it is easier to view this link will open in another window My Mindmap.
By looking at what I have found in this document I can create a plan of where to search for further records that will confirm and expand upon what was found in this one record.

The Research Plan: Two-step Next Steps?
Elizabeth Shown Mills, "The Research Plan: Two-step Next Steps?" Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 17 April 2016).

The key element to my research from the map I have created is to find out more about the identity of Mary Eley mother of Louisa Richards. If I was to find more in some of these records I would have to determine her maiden name. I briefly discussed where I have got with my research in my previous post.
The research process requires a step by step approach and not fully analysing the results at each stage can lead us to jump to the wrong conclusions.
I was fortunate that Mary married Edward Eley using her maiden name and this marriage was the only one in the register that would fit the information obtained from the Settlement Examination. If she had married someone with a more common name in this area the search would have been less straightforward.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Where next for Twile?

Do you want more of your family to be involved in creating Family History for future generations?

Whether it's taking pictures, writing stories, or just sharing experiences, we are all creating our own family history everyday. 
The younger generation use social media to interact with each other and some even use it to keep up with their families. 
If you use Facebook you will see numerous photographs every day. Some of these are of milestone events weddings, christenings, birthdays and other special occasions. 
Would you like to save these for your descendants to see or share them with family who live away? 
Some members of the family may be reluctant to share in such a public arena and would prefer a more private place.

Twile was created so families can share there experiences and knowledge about the family in a fun interactive way and everyone can add their own part of the story. 
It uses timelines and is very visual great for engaging the younger generation. 
There are also ways of incorporating historic events within your timeline to show how these evnts may have affected your family.

Why not try their 30 day free trial.

I wrote a post in February so take a look if you have not read it and read some of the Twile blog to find out more.

The Twile team (in red) of Paul Brooks, Kelly Marsden and Caroline Brooks at the Find My Past Stand at Who Do You Think You Are Live 2016

Earlier this week I posted about my experience at Guild Conference and WDYTYA Live. Paul Brooks was at both conference and show and was explaining how Twile works and asking whether there is anything they could do to make the website work for those doing surname studies. I must admit I was not sure how it might work.

The team have been busy since Rootstech trying to respond to the suggestions they received from those likely to use the site to build and share their family history.
I could write about the discussion of what is to come but instead I will share with you an interview I conducted with Paul in the hall at Who Do You Think You Are Live.

Here is the link to my interview.

Caroline Brooks talking to a member of the Find My Past team

Sunday, 10 April 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 5

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 5: Analyzing Records    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 5: Analyzing Records,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 30 March 2016)

For this weeks lesson I would like to refer you to an earlier post which includes a transcription of a record I found when I visited the archives in Southampton, Hampshire, England.

I had contacted the archives before I visited as I had been looking for a bastardy record for my 2xgt grandfather. The baptism record, that I had received a copy of from my aunt, showed that Stephen was the illegitimate son of Stephen Buckle and Louisa Richards and was christened in 1827 at St Michael's Church in Southampton. 

When I received the baptism record I could have left it at that as I had the name of the father recorded. However even though I had this information I had heard of bastardy records and hoped that I might learn more. I have still not used these records in my research yet.
Fortunately for me the settlement examinations for this time period had been indexed and as Louisa Richards appeared in this index I looked at the record transcribed in the aforementioned post.
Understanding of why a record was created is important and may lead us to discover more.
Why were they asking about where the mother was born, and had worked. In this document there is also reference to the grandparents. To fully appreciate what information is contained in this document we need to know more about settlement and how the parish of settlement is determined. Why were they trying to determine a parish of settlement?
The analysis of this document reveals many details about the early life of my ancestor and creates many questions. 
I refer you to my preferred reference source for more information about settlement
Herber, Mark D. Ancestral trails : the complete guide to British genealogy and family history. Stroud: Sutton, 2004. p 345-349.
Questions posed by this document were touched upon in this earlier post and some of these can now be answered by further research. Discovering the marriage of Edward and Mary revealed her maiden name. Her christening revealed her father's name and the Christian name of her mother this led to marriage of the parents. Records for Jersey are difficult to find but I discovered a transcription online so a trip to the beautiful island of Jersey is now required. I may have discovered more about Thomas Richards but I need to discover what military records are available for this period. I believe he may have been involved in the Napoleonic wars as I found a record for his regiment.
Thorough research involves more than analysis of documents. Context and understanding of what may help your research ensures that everything is looked at in the context of when and where the record was created.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

My Colourful Ancestry

These two images were created using Family Historian for the recent genealogy craze this Easter

This is the one for my husband

This is mine

I may add a chart to include all the main events birth, marriage and death at a later date but for the time being these show the birth counties in England.

Monday, 28 March 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 3

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 3: Flawed Records    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 3: Flawed Records,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 27 March 2016)

For this lesson I want to look at 2 items that have been digitized pertaining to the birth of my great grandfather.

The first item refers to baptisms for children at St Josephs Church in Southampton and the second is a copy birth certificate for one of the children mentioned in the letter.

Apart from the fact that neither of these are original records there is a difference of dates. Had I not had a copy of the letter I would not have been aware of the possibility that the date of birth could be anything other than that recorded on the official birth certificate.

Thorough research including records made independent of each other can lead us to question even the records we would consider to be accurate.

When I looked at these I had to consider why would the birth certificate have the baptism date recorded as the date of birth. Had his mother got confused with the dates and given the baptism date. The date the birth was registered was more than 2 months after the date in the letter and almost a month after the baptism.

This birth was registered prior to 1875, at which time the Births and Deaths Act 1874 imposed a duty upon those present at a birth to report it to the registrar, so his parents were only legally obliged to inform a registrar if it was demanded by the registrar (1). Many were not aware of the law or thought that a baptism was an alternative to registration. This situation may be what happened with another ancestor whose birth appears to have taken place in 1845. I have found a baptism, but unless she was registered under an alternative name, I can find no trace in the index for the district.
If the birth had taken place after 1875 then the parents would have been fined for a registration later than 42 days after the birth (1). 
I will need to search the newspapers of the time to see if this stipulation could have been common knowledge as early as 1868. 
I have looked for school records to try and confirm the date of birth. I have not found any for him yet. Given that the baptism date and the date of birth on the certificate are the same it may just be a case of mistake. 
The earlier date is my "current thinking" and is a reasonable choice unless I find something to contradict this. I have other records which would indicate a year of birth such as census, marriage and death certificates, but these do not state an exact date, and would be considered to have been recorded at later dates than the 2 documents I have discussed. 
He died in 1940 so the 1939 Register recently released on Find My Past, could be a source of information, this has recorded full dates of birth for individuals. However having found him he is listed as incapacitated. Given his cause of death he would not have been a reliable witness for the date of birth he had been using, all that it lists is an age and year of birth. 
Employment records may be another source for the date of birth. He worked for a shipping company who may have records. The Clyde Shipping company has become Clyde Maritime and I found a genealogy section on their forum. 

This discussion and reading the QuickLesson has led me to create this graphic

If we are going to carry out thorough research and analysis of that research we must first understand the context in which a record was created and any peculiarities which may affect how we perceive what we find. This requires a knowledge which we may not have unless we educate ourselves.
We all learn in different ways and watching and participating in this type of study group is a great way to share and highlight possible problems or ways of tackling problems.

Brickwalls can fall when we know our weaknesses and where we may have missed something. Collaboration and friendly discussion can help us all become better at what we love doing.

(1) Herber, Mark D. Ancestral trails : the complete guide to British genealogy and family history. Stroud: Sutton, 2004. p55

Sunday, 20 March 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 2

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 2: Sources vs. Information vs. Evidence vs. Proof    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 2: Sources vs. Information vs. Evidence vs. Proof,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 18 March 2016).

Only this last week in the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) I have been part of we were discussing Primary and Secondary sources. Primary being original, contemporary records and Secondary being hearsay and writings of others. However this classification may not truly reflect the nature of the source.
Within a document information may exist which is first hand knowledge alongside other second hand or hearsay. Each piece of information and the assertion or claim that is made must be evaluated for its ability to be used as evidence supporting a proof.
A strong proof is only as good as the building blocks, that is the evidence, that is used in its construction.

In my example from Lesson 1 I had a person who I had gathered some information about and whom I suspected would be someone listed in the 1939 register. I set out with the intention of finding her to support the theory that she was still alive in 1939. If I found her I might also be able to ascertain more information about where she was living her date of birth and possibly who was living with her.

Using the diagram above let us see what I have here.
Source = Find my Past Website Index and scanned images of pages of the 1939 Register with some redaction.

Evaluation = Original page as digital image, Index is a derivative created recently

Information = Other than the address in 1939 the name, occupation and date of birth in the register are reliant on the veracity of the person giving the information, which should generally be the individual or a close relative, though it could be someone unrelated. The information about the date of birth cannot be primary as it is being recorded sometime after the date.

Evidence = Whilst the information in the digital images can be used to form part of a proof none of it can be considered to be more than an assertion. We have no means of determining the absolute truth.
Assertions from other sources may be combined with the ones from this source to build what we may call our current hypothesis, proof or conclusion. 
Conflicting information should not be ignored but discussed in a proof statement or argument.

In discovering the correct person in the register the analysis of the information supports what is already known. 
The conclusions drawn should meet the genealogical proof standard. Should further research be needed, collecting the evidence together will allow us to interpret what we may need to find, to meet the requirement of thorough research.

Whilst I endeavour to look at everything I find I may have not always been diligent. 
Evidentia can help with this analysis and as I work through rebuilding my tree I will be using it to assist with building the evidence into a strong proof. It will at least provide me with some idea as to where the evidence is weak or if I need to look for more information.

At each stage of processing a source and its contents we need to decide whether what we find is convincing, or may contain an error, and these considerations must be included in any discussion of the evidence we are using to support our conclusion.

Nothing is absolute anything can contain an error which is why no single piece of evidence is enough to support our conclusions.

Monday, 14 March 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 1

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 1: Analysis & Citation
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 1: Analysis and Citation,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage( :  accessed 14 March 2016).    

Do you look at what you already know each time before you carry out a piece of research? 
Or are you, like many of us today, seeing a new database available at your favourite website anxious to try it out.

If you have not made a plan before you start to research you can easily fall in to the trap that many researchers discover that you take the first thing you find.

Only yesterday, I decided to look for an aunt of my mother in the 1939 register at Find My Past.

I entered her first and last names and year of birth and the town where I thought she was living. One result appeared which looked reasonable so I linked the record to my tree.

However I did not leave it at that as there was another person in the household who appeared to be her son.

As I continued my analysis of this record I knew it was not the person I was looking for, the year of birth for the son was 1923, my mother's uncle had died in 1918 whilst his wife was expecting their third child.

So I went back and did another search and this time I found her using her first name and middle initial. To further confirm that I had the correct person she was still living at the same address I had written on a letter years earlier.

How can any of us be sure we have found the correct source for our information if we do not analyse the information we find in the source.

We cannot return to that source later if we do not create a citation. 
By understanding each source we use and its importance in the inferences that we make we do not put undue preference onto one particular source.

My analyse of the information I found in the 1939 register alongside information I had gathered from other sources helped me to determine which was the most credible information within the 1939 register as a source.

My citation for what I have found will be to the second page, not the first one, the analysis of the information supporting its use as evidence of exact date of birth, residence in 1939, name in 1939 and occupation. I can also state who she was living with if they are not redacted. 
Were I only to cite this as being found in the 1939 register without including full details of the page then anyone wishing to follow my research may erroneously find the other person. 
So even if you do not get all the punctuation correct make sure you collect all the information so that anyone can find that record within the source again and decide whether they agree with your conclusion or "current thinking".

So each time you go to research remember this picture.