Tuesday, July 12, 2016

What are Standards in Genealogy? Why are they important?

When we stick to the Standards, or what is allowed in a drop down feature of a website, we limit the amount of duplicate records drastically.  I thought it would be helpful if you know what is helpful to the database mechanics, and what is not.  These are just a few of the important ones.  As I uncover more, I will let you know.

When you fill up a field (name, date of birth, birthplace, etc.,), you are telling the database that you don't need it. You are telling it that you are done with that person and are positive that it is correct.
You are essentially telling it that you are smarter that it's logarithms and to move on, cause....you're good!

Some people will get to a brick wall and do the following - these are all bad or poor choices and will not help you in your search.

1.  END of the line, written in the birth date or death date field.

  Really?  You can say with 100% certainty that in the year 1798 no one came before that person?  What about his mother?  How was he born?  Hmmm.  so unless you were there and personally witnessed his translation from Heaven to Earth, leave this blank.

2.  In documenting female names, any of these are not good.  Mrs. John Smith, Mrs. Smith, NFN (no first name), 

Remember, in the spirit of not putting anything that you don't know for a fact and don't havfe some sort of proof in the form of a birth certificate or death certificate or marriage, you will only fill the field if you are positive.  Guesses can go in the notes section.  Anything less than the simple maiden first and last name is inappropriate.  It will stop the database in is tracks.  If you do not have a marriage certificate or her name on a census form, LEAVE IT BLANK.  This will allow the database to do what it was designed to do, search for people based on the KNOWN facts.  If you run across a female who has the last name of her husband, delete the last name and leave only her first name.  The only exception to this would be if two cousins with the same last name married.  Add an event and explain that they were cousins with the same last name.  Before 1865 most of the United States did not have a rule about cousins being married.

What is the most you can put when you do not have a lot of corroborative evidence?  

  1. You can put the first name that was on the census form.  
  2. You can put the year of birth that the census stated she was born.  
  3. You can put the name of the State she gave to her census taker.

What is the correct way to list a name with a title?

3.  Any of these in the last name field is wrong and does create duplicate records.
  1. a.  Mr. John Smith ****
  2. b.  Mr. John Smith (7GG)  (he is not everyone's 7th great grandfather)
  3. c.  Mr. John Georgie Porgie Smith.  (nickname)
  4. d.  Mr. John  (now last name field )Smith, 6th Laird of Glasgow and my 6th GG,
  5. e.  Mr. John Adams, ****PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES****
  6. g.  Mr. John Adams, 2nd
  7. h.  Mr. John Adams, Senior
  8. I.  Mr. John Adams 1st
  9. j.  Wife has 25 children and some are after she died.
1A, 2B, 3C
Do not place **** or 7GG or the like in the last name field - EVER.  I know it makes it easier to find your direct line, but it is inappropriate.

How do I list a nick name?

(first)  John "Baldy" (last) Smith  - - the data base will approve of the "".
(first) John "Georgie Porgie" (last) Smith

 5E, 6G, 7H, 8I
Titles of Officials or Statesmen
What about Titles that refer to the line of people with the same name?
The only one that is possibly allowed would be listing his title in the last name field with a comma between the last name the the Title.  Make sure you google the correct way to express the Title. #6 above is almost correct.  His title cannot fit in the suffix, so Separate the title from the Last name and use Roman numerals instead of numbers.  So the correct way to put it would be:

 4D You can list HON in Suffix - The rest of the title in a NOTE in Events - It will show up in the timeline when you enter the dates involved.

Sir John Smith, Laird of Glasgow VI.
The Honorable (Hon) William Bradford, Governor
then list Plymouth, RI as an event elected official to office HON William Bradford, Governor
Use Roman Numerals.

Emily Post Official Addressing Rules

If you are related to the President or someone of Title, do not place that in the last name field.  You can add an event, and say that he was elected President of the United States in ____year.

E , G, H, I and J
How do I list 3 Generations of people with the same name.

Pick this apart very carefully.   This is a huge problem.  Sometimes the database gets confused and adds hints for the wrong generation to a son or grandson with the same name.  If you have to lay it all out with the dates, DO IT.  It is totally worth it.

When you show when he lived and died, when his wives lived and died, you can split the kids up and put them with the correct wife.  
prefix (Mr.)  first (John)   last (Adams)    Suffix   (I)
his son with the exact name would be the same with (Jr.) in the Suffix
his grandson with the exact name would be the same with (III) in the Suffix

This is where random clicking without checking will get you into trouble.
If you have children beyond the first wife's life span, do NOT add them to her.  Go look for a 2nd wife's Marriage Certificate, then add the children to her that were born in her life time.  Repeat this for the 3rd wife.  Make a handwritten chart for your records.  Email me for my excel Wizard on Multiple Marriages. genealogymama1@gmail.com, it's very cool!

Think before you click! Genealogy is more than just clicking and adding hints...

It dawned on me recently when I came across some erroneous data that some people are just clicking, thinking that ALL hints are valid in Ancestry.com.  Granted, Ancestry does a bang up job of finding relevant hints but you need to use discernment and logically plot out what was happening.

Scenario 1 - Young man, son of a deceased Tobacco Farmer in Virginia suddenly ends up on a North Carolina (500 miles away) census and marries a woman there.  Miraculously, they show up with the next census back in Virginia.  However, since both names were John and Sarah, the likelyhood that there was a duplicate couple who was married and lived in North Carolina is a very real possibility.  ....and here is why....

 First lets talk about education.   Leaving your home for college was a pretty difficult choice if there was traveling involved.  You could not really leave your farm abandoned or it would be taken over by interlopers and raided by "carpetbaggers".  When you returned it would be difficult to get the squatters off your land.  If you inherited a wealthy piece of property, you worked it until you left it to your own heir.  The likelihood of the young man running off 500 miles away is scant.  Especially when we traced the route on a map and found that he would have had to cross a sea inlet of some distance, in addition to the strain of 500 miles.  How would he travel?

Here is a table of how far a horse travels in one day.  Since it was frowned upon for a female to ride astride, he would have had to bring her back in a buggy for her and her dowry (luggage).

On Roads / trails
Level or rolling terrain: 40
Hilly terrain: 30
Mountainous terrain: 20

Off-Road (or unkempt trails etc)
Level/rolling grasslands: 30
Hilly grasslands: 25
Level/rolling forest/thick scrub: 20
Very hilly forest/thick scrub: 15

Un-blazed Mountain passes: 10
Marshland: 10

An average quality horse, of a breed suitable for riding, conditioned for overland travel and in good condition.
Roads and trails are in good condition and up kept by whatever local authority deals with them.
Weather is good to fair, and travelers are riding for around ten hours a day.

Halve these distances for a horse pulling a cart or for a very heavily laden horse (e.g. a fully armoured knight who insists on wearing his armour all day rather than having it stowed on a second baggage horse as would be normal!).

Add half again for specially trained horses and riders who are prepared to push hard (rangers, scouts and messengers, etc...) though do bear in mind that horses cannot be pushed like this for more than a few days at a time. You can add a bit more again to this distance if the breed of horse is exceptionally suitable for this sort of thing, but I’d say 2 to 2.5 times the base is the absolute maximum without some sort of magical assistance!

Poor weather such as heavy rain or wind should reduce distances by about one quarter, and very poor conditions like heavy snow or gale force winds, etc.. should reduce distances by at least half if not more.

Finding a place to ford a small river or swimming your horse across a larger river should knock a couple of miles off the day’s journey, other unique obstacles might have a similar reduction. (as a guide remember a horse walks at around 4 miles per hour (compared to a human average of around 2.5 - 3mph) so if the obstacle takes half an hour to deal with thats a couple of miles lost.

How would they travel?  There were three types of buggy.

1.  The open carriage - completely vulnerable to inclement weather and only good for short trips on a good day.

 2.   Horse and buggy - requires a driver, no luggage space, only two people and minimal coverage for sun, not rain or snow.
 3.  Horse and carriage - luggage space on the back, requires a driver, full coverage from rain and sun, not heated for travel in the snow.  This was for the uber wealthy.  This did have carriage lights but visibility on dirt roads at night was not a real possibility, because fear of going off a cliff, fear of highway robbers at night, etc.,
The first carriage lights were candles with little visibility.

Most people had to get up early, go do their visiting and have "supper", then immediately return to their abode before nightfall.
You could do no more than 30 miles per day - if the road and weather conditions were optimal.

Supper was the main meal to allow for the mid day break in farming chores (milking occurs early morning and at sundown), and to allow family to get back to their home before nightfall.

So before you click, ponder it out.  Do your RESEARCH.  Don't take the easy way out.  See my next article on how to conduct valid searches.

Keep up the good work!