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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lucky Day! Friday the 13th!



Thanks to the work of the volunteers at The Poznan Project, I was able to identify 2nd and 3rd great grandfathers and brothers of my great grandfather.  Found them all on Friday the 13th!!

The Poznan Project is working to transcribe all 19th century marriages in the Polish province of Poznan. A very efficient search engine looks for either or both bride and groom. I’ve used it successfully searching for 3 of my lines, and finally got around to the 4 of my surnames.

Searching just on Ganas as the groom’s surname, I got 12 matches.  But the best part is that they’re all clustered in a relatively small area.  In some cases the search results include the names of the parents of the bridal couple.  Four of the grooms share the same parents. I ordered LDS films and hit a small jackpot on the first one I viewed.

I found my great grandfather’s 3 brothers, his parents and his grandparents! WOW!


There’s a lot more work to do here but I knocked at least one brick out of one wall.




Wednesday, March 11, 2015

I have the data - now to add the information.



My ancestor search (for my own ancestors) is slowly coming to a halt approaching a big brick wall.  Well, actually it’s not brick but I’m not sure I have what it takes to penetrate it.

Polish Roman Catholic church records before the 18th century – and in some cases into the 18th century are paragraphs of handwritten text in Latin. Later records generally have the data entered into labeled columns in the record books like this:



Language isn’t the problem with the early records, the problem is mostly the handwriting. Add to that the fact that many of the pages are faded or damaged by time. Ancient European handwriting is my (not exactly) brick wall.  Here’s a sample of one of more legible record books.



While it would be nice to know the names of my 3rd 4th and 5th great grandparents, I’m not sure that it is worth the effort to try to decipher these earliest records.

Why not?

My goal has been to understand my family history. I believe that I now know enough about that history to be able to add context to the names and dates.  My ancestors were peasants in a part of the world where civil records were not kept until 1874. They were farmers and laborers who were pretty much invisible in their times except to one another.

I can extrapolate from the known names and dates to guess when earlier generations lived. So even if I don’t know their names, history tells me much about their circumstances.  Were their leaders tyrants or magnanimous? What wars were going on?  Were there famines or floods?  I can go far back in time even without being able to name individuals.

I won’t stop searching. Don’t get me wrong. But I’m at the point of getting diminishing returns from poring over the available records.  

New projects for my ancestors will involve trying to depict my ancestors and their lives in words and images and share those with my extended family.  That’s a daunting challenge.  Maybe it would be easier just trying to decode the ancient scribbles.




Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Is Genealogy Evolving? (My thoughts on Mommy bloggers)



To some people “evolution” is a bad word, but that may be just what’s happening in the genealogy community. Today’s technology gives us the opportunity to go far beyond just recording names and dates. It is easier, today, to put our ancestors in the context of their times.

There have been some comments made online that a few of the attendees at the 2015 RootsTech conference were displeased at the presence of so many lifestyle bloggers, or “Mommy bloggers”.  I’d bet that those same complainers would, or do, cherish any diaries or journals left by their ancestors.  Yesterday’s diaries are today’s blogs.

Apparently more people like me are pursuing genealogy – not for the sake of proving lineage; but to learn and document our family history. Genealogical research gives us the information we need to try to understand our ancestors. Where and how did they live?  

How I wish my ancestors had kept journals!  What was the minutia of everyday life? What drove them to leave their homeland and extended families?  What were the conversations that led to the decision to emigrate? How did they adjust to their new homes?  How did my mother feel when her husband enlisted in the army in 1944?  My childhood memories are disjointed.  My parents and all their siblings are deceased. I’m left with historical records but none of their personal reminiscences except what I remember hearing. I scour history books in an attempt to understand my history and heritage.

Here’s a toast to lifestyle and Mommy bloggers. They’re leaving a priceless legacy.



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Too Many BSOs!!!



Thomas MacEntee warns genealogists, especially those doing the Genealogy Do-Over to avoid being sidetracked by BSOs – Bright Shiny Objects.  We need to keep focused. 

I was doing ok for a couple of weeks.  I worked on my file naming strategy for documents and digitized photos. So far it seems to be working well. I have an Excel spreadsheet as an indexer of the photo files. As I prepare my scanned photos, I’ve been including metadata and a watermark of sorts - the three initials as shown in the lower left of the photo below.  I try to make the watermark fairly unobtrusive but definitely visible.



Then I was besieged with BSOs. On February 7 I attended an all day seminar put on by three Treasure Coast (Florida) genealogy societies.  This is an annual affair hosted by the Indian River Genealogical Society.  They’re always good but this one was GREAT.

Lisa Louise Cooke presented four classes from her book: The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox   I knew that Google had more features than I’ve been using, but I was blown away by her presentation and her demonstrations of the powerful Google tools that can take online research to another dimension.  If you’re not watching her website, podcasts and videos, go take a look at Genealogy Gems

How can you not go home with a treasure trove of BSOs – new tools – and not play with them all?

Then on February 10, at the monthly Indian RiverGenealogical Society meeting, Mark Fearer spoke on the topic of immigration.  He gave me some ideas that may help with my one remaining immigration brick wall.  A couple more BSOs to play with.

I love new toys.  Self discipline has never been my strong point.  There are just too darn many BSOs.

Focus! Focus! Focus.



Thursday, February 5, 2015

Revised File Name Scheme



Thanks to the people on the Facebook Genealogy Do-over group, I have revised my scheme for naming my digitized photos.

On FB I posted a link to my 1/24/2015 blog that asked for feedback; and got very good response that made me reconsider both my document file name scheme and the one for photos.

Documents

After much thought, I am not revising my document naming plan. I believe it will work for me. Here it is as posted on Jan 24:

Document Files = Date_Who_What

Date
 YYYY_MM_DD  A lower case x will substitute for unknown entries: 195x_xx_xx
Who
Surname-first name; or just family name
What
Type of record: Birth, Baptism, Marriage, Census, Deed, etc.

Here’s an example:  A copy of the church record of baptism from an LDS microfilm.
The file name is: 1841_11_14_Dachtera-Andreas_Baptism.jpg

The LDS film number is in the file metadata

Photos

Several people pointed out problems with my photo naming scheme. For one thing it was too complex. Even worse, it would be difficult to sort in a logical way. 

Old plan:

Date_Who_What-Description(description optional)_ Generation

Date
 YYYY_MM_DD  A lower case x will substitute for unknown entries: 195x_xx_xx

Who
Surname-First name; or just Family name plus additional information where appropriate
What
Type of photo i.e. snapshot or portrait
Optional description can include the event
Generation
Gx where x = the generation number.

Generation is one of the things I’ve wrestled with.  Here’s what I came up with.

Generation
Zero (Z) = me and my siblings, first cousins, etc.
1 = my parents and their siblings, etc,
2 = grandparents
3 = great grandparents
Z1 = my children
Z2 = my grandchildren
Z3 = my great grandchildren
M  = a photo with more than two generations.

A couple of examples:



File name:  191x_xx_xx_Dachtera-Stanley-kids_snap_g2-1.jpg


This tells me that it is a snapshot of my grandfather with kids, and that the primary person is generation 2 but it also includes generation 1 people.

Identifying the photo with Stanley’s name is my choice for my reasons. It could well have been “Dachtera-Johanna-sibs-dad”

File name: 1920_05_04_Dachtera-Supinski_port-wed_g1.jpg



New and Improved Photo naming scheme!!

Who_Type_Event_Generation

Who
Surname-First name; or just Family name plus additional information where appropriate
Type
Type of photo i.e. snapshot or portrait
Event
Wedding, birthday, reunion, etc.
Lower case x if there’s no specific event to be noted
Generation
Gx where x = the generation number.

Generation
Zero (Z) = me and my siblings, first cousins, etc.
1 = my parents and their siblings, etc,
2 = grandparents
3 = great grandparents
Z1 = my children
Z2 = my grandchildren
Z3 = my great grandchildren
M  = a photo with more than two generations.

Again, using the photos above as examples the file names would be

Dachtera-Stanley-kids_snap_x_g2-1
Dachtera-Johanna-Supinski_port_wed_g1

Not only is this simpler, it will sort well by name. The generation designation is unchanged.  In a family with several common first names, I want the file name to tell me which Joseph, for example, is the main subject of the photo.

Women’s names

There was much discussion in the FB group about how best to identify women. Should one use the maiden name or the married name? Here’s what I’m thinking:
Use the surname that is appropriate for the photo. A photo of my mother as a teenager would identify her as Ganas-Emily; while a photo of her after marriage would identify her as Dachtera-Emily-Ganas.

It seems that no matter how you approach this issue, there will be plenty of room for confusion. I'm hopeful that the supporting information will keep confusion at a minimum

Supporting information

I will also have an Excel file – one for documents and one for photos - that will keep track of the files as I create them.   Before I get too far along, I’ll try sorting these in various ways to make sure I have the info I need.

I hope my schemes will work for me, but it is still a work in progress




Saturday, January 24, 2015

Looking for Feedback on File Naming Schemes



I think that I’ve come up with a workable (for me) scheme for naming document files, and another one for photo files. But there a still a couple of unresolved questions. Please comment.  I know I can’t have considered everything.

Document Files = Date_Who_What

Date
 YYYY_MM_DD  A lower case x will substitute for unknown entries: 195x_xx_xx
Who
Surname-first name; or just family name
What
Type of record: Birth, Baptism, Marriage, Census, Deed, etc.

Here’s an example:  A copy of the church record of baptism from an LDS microfilm.

File name: 1841_11_14_Dachtera-Andreas_Baptism.jpg


The LDS film number is in the file metadata.

The idea is that the file list will sort itself first on date, then on name, but I haven’t gotten far enough to see what happens when there are Xs in the date. I suppose that a year of 184x will be listed after those with 1849 as the year.

While this seems that it will do the job, it seems just too simple.  Have I forgotten something???

Photo naming gets a little more complex

Date_Who_What-Description(description optional)_ Generation
Date
 YYYY_MM_DD  A lower case x will substitute for unknown entries: 195x_xx_xx

Who
Surname-First name; or just Family name plus additional information where appropriate
What
Type of photo i.e. snapshot or portrait
Optional description can include the event
Generation
Gx where x = the generation number.

Generation is one of the things I’ve wrestled with.  Here’s what I came up with.

Generation
Zero (Z) = me and my siblings, first cousins, etc.
1 = my parents and their siblings, etc,
2 = grandparents
3 = great grandparents
Z1 = my children
Z2 = my grandchildren
Z3 = my great grandchildren
M  = a photo with more than two generations.

A couple of examples:
File name:  191x_xx_xx_Dachtera-Stanley-kids_snap_g2-1

This tells me that it is a snapshot of my grandfather with kids, and that the primary person is generation 2 but it also includes generation 1 people.

Identifying the photo with Stanley’s name is my choice for my reasons. It could well have been “Dachtera-Johanna-sibs-dad”

File name: 1920_05_04_Dachtera-Supinski_port-wed_g1


I’m not sure how I should identify married women.

Use the married name?  In terms of one aspect of “future proofing” succeeding generations are more likely to know only the married name and may be looking at photo files independently of genealogy data files.

Use both maiden and married names? This may be the best solution, but would I identify the bride above as “Supinski-Johanna-Dachtera” or some other combination?

I’ve tried to keep this as simple as possible but maybe I’m missing something important.  I’ll resume scanning photos and see where I run into snags.

Any suggestions for improvement will be welcome.




Thursday, January 22, 2015

Learning from the Genealogy Do-Over



The Genealogy Do-Over is a thirteen week project begun on January 1 of this year and  led by Thomas MacEntee.  Information can be found online in several places that will be listed below. I’ve learned so very much from the participants in the Facebook group (more than 3,000 of them) devoted to this project who post and answer questions; and share the files they’ve created or modified to improve their research and recording techniques.

Digital file archiving is one problem I have not resolved to my satisfaction. My “system” has simply evolved from what seemed practical when I first began family research.  In other words, it is a non-system with some inconsistencies that make it a bit of a mess.  A specific problem area is file names for photographs.

At one time I started to design a file naming structure and a Microsoft Access database. Ill health took me away from genealogy for a while and when I got back to it I saw that my photo file naming scheme was entirely too complex to be usable.  I also came to realize that My database would become obsolete as Microsoft Access software changed and priced itself out of my budget. Consequently, I haven’t done any more scanning without having a reasonable naming scheme.

Thanks to the Do-Over folks, I’ve found a few archiving methods that may suit my needs.  I will probably take ideas from more than one suggested method. When I figure it out, I’ll post it.

In the meantime, I continue to follow the Do-Over and absorb the knowledge that these folks are sharing. I’m grateful to them all.

Here are some links to Do-Over information


Join the group and take a look at the files that have been uploaded as well as reading the posts.

There’s a link here to blog posts made by participants and links to resources.