Thursday, May 14, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over, Cycle 2 Week 6

This week's Do-Over focuses on:
  1. Evaluating Evidence
  2. Reviewing Online Education Options

Evaluating Evidence

In the past, I did use fairly good judgment as I analyzed the information I had, but it was a very informal evaluation. I would take notes and figure out the best possible answers for the scenarios, but I didn't break it down and do a formal evaluation by creating a written proof statement. I see where this is beneficial, so I am using my Evidentia as a way to analyze each piece of information and evaluate its relevance to the proof point I am trying to make.

I must admit that this is a very busy time of year for me. As an educator, we have the annual state mandated tests to administer. I give the oral exams for several grade levels, so many days are long and tedious. I haven't had much free time to delve into my sources and put them into my Evidentia, but for the ones I have done, I am able to see how they are relevant and put them into perspective as I do my analysis.

Putting it into action, I sought to prove my grandfather's date of birth. I had some conflicting evidence, so I added all of the sources into Evidentia, cataloged my claims, and began to analyze my evidence. I wrote up a summary conclusion which is like a proof statement. I am still not great at writing a strong proof statement, but I will keep practicing and I'm sure I will improve over time. This is a screen shot of the first page of the proof statement. It is actually three pages long. It itemizes each source and its assertions, and uses end notes.

Reviewing Online Educational Options

As for reviewing online education options, I reviewed Thomas MacEntee's list and was amazed by all the resources he had listed. I knew about some of them, but many more are available than I ever imagined. I decided to create my own list of online education options as a page on this blog, so others may use them.

As I reviewed the abundance of online educational resources, I decided to set my educational goals for 2015. These are some areas I am weak in and could use some guidance.

My Educational Genealogy Goals for 2015

1. Researching my German ancestry --- I was able to locate a webinar on Researching German ancestry online through the Southern California Genealogical Webinar series. I have signed up for that one and I am continuing to search for more on the subject. My mother is German and I would love to learn how to research her line.

2. Breaking down a brick wall (wills and probates) --- I plan to discover more about locating wills, probates, and other records to help me prove/disprove that John William Wickliffe is the father of Charles Wickliffe.

3. Join a Genealogical Society to advance my skills --- I used to be a member of a local society, but with work and school, I wasn't able to attend. I plan to join a local society and another in an area that I am researching for my family. I hope this will help me glean insight into records available in the area and perhaps clues into my family's whereabouts.

4. Learning more about writing my ancestor's stories --- In February, I joined The Family History Writing Challenge, but was unable to keep up. I have purchased Lynn Palermo's ebooks and they are an excellent resource. Lynn's blog, The Armchair Genealogist, at is another excellent resource for helping me achieve this goal.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over, Cycle 2 Week 5

This week's Do-Over consists of:
1) Building a Research Toolbox and 2) Citing Sources

I had fun this week! I was able to retrieve tons of genealogy websites and tools that I had bookmarked over the years. I decided to create my genealogical toolbox as a page on this blog. By doing so, it will be available anywhere I have access to the internet, and it allows others to see and "steal" any links they may want to use. As I worked my way through the bookmarks, I found a few dead links. I used that as an opportunity to delete and reorganize the bookmarks to make them easier to access. See the before and after images below. I also viewed some of the tools from other bloggers, checked them out, and added the ones I liked. I know that having one document where I can find all of my tools will be very beneficial to my searches. 



The second part of this week's Do-Over has been to cite sources. In my younger years, I didn't see any reason to cite sources that were oral, letters, or in email. I just added the information. If I found the information online back in the day, I just cited as from Ancestry or Family Search and left it at that. It wasn't until about ten years ago, that I saw the importance of needing more from my citations. I have spent the better part of the last seventeen years, working full time, raising four children (and grandchildren), while going to college. When I would need to put my genealogy on hold (sometimes for more than a year), I would have a hard time picking it back up, because I couldn't remember where I left off, or how to re-locate the information I had already obtained. Just citing didn't work. I began adding more information to my citations and that helped. Now, over the last two years, I've been learning more and more about citing sources in a more uniform way designed for genealogists. I bought the book Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills and I am trying to learn the proper way to cite my sources so I can keep my place, track my research, discover discrepancies, expand my research, determine source reliability, and establish proof. By learning and using these proper citations, I will be more confident in my own assertions.

I have received information about births, deaths, and marriages via Facebook private messages and emails. Learning to cite those has been challenging, but I think I covered it enough so that others will know how and where I received the information. I am excited about how my genealogy resources and knowledge is progressing.

My Facebook private message citation using EE 3.42 Email & Instant Messages:

Margit (Knott) Sußbauer, Straubing, Germany [(ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE),] to Renita Ford-Collier, Facebook private message, June – Oct 2013, “Lukas family births, marriages, deaths”, Personal Correspondence Folder, Ford-Collier Research Files; privately held by Ford-Collier [(ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE)], Glenn Heights, Texas, 2013.

There is so much to learn! How are you doing on your Week 5 Do-Over?

Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Pub Co, 2007.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Cycle 2 Week 4

This week's Do-Over consists of:
1) Managing Projects and Tasks and 2) Tracking Searches

This week has caused me great stress! I tried to use the Project Management spreadsheet, but I became very confused. It seemed too much, almost as if it were redundant. I couldn't get used to changing the colors, cutting and pasting to the bottom, and then transferring to another sheet. I use a calendar/day planner to track my genealogy and work projects. I have used this for years and it works well. For all of my family's activities, I use a large wall calendar and everyone is responsible for writing their activities on it, so I can coordinate my jobs and projects around theirs. 

The other problem for me this week was tracking my searches! It wasn't difficult to do, but it just seemed senseless. I usually check back on the same websites about every 6 months, and it may take a different type of search at that point to locate new data. I am trying not to be so resistant to change, so I have decided to continue tracking my searches until the end of the Do-Over, just to see if it makes more sense to me later.

How did your Week 4 go?