Friday, November 20, 2015

Thorough research in city directories, one quick example

I recently had occasion to compare physical and virtual city directory holdings. The results for this one location -- Decatur, Macon County, Illinois -- are as follows.

Assume that you're researching families that might be in Decatur over a 50-year period. Which source has the best collection of city directories 1870-1924?


Exclusive holdings for each are in bold underline.

Ancestry has 1889, 1893, 1896, 1899, 1903, 1907, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1921, 1922, 1923

Decatur Public Library has 1871-72, 1881, 1884, 1889, 1896, 1899, 1901, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1915, 1919, 1920

Don't assume that local repositories have a full collection for their own city! Indeed, since these books were ephemeral, more years may yet be out there.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tomorrow night's BCG webinar on some genealogy reflexes

I'll be talking about genealogy reflexes and how they relate to doing good genealogy and becoming certified, at the BCG free webinar Tuesday night the 17th at 5 pm PST, 6 MST, 7 CST, and 8 EST. Hope to "see" some of you there. It's open to the public but seating is limited, so register early and sign in early.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

June APGQ -- another magazine on the "must-read" shelf

For those who are members of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the June 2015 issue of the APG Quarterly just went on line. Yes, it's late, but it's looking like a quarterly full of articles I want to read and need to read -- and a real incentive for serious genealogists who are not yet members to join APG.

No, I'm not impartial. My own article, "A Field Guide to Indirect Evidence," is in the mix -- that was supposed to be the reason for this blog post! And I do chair the quarterly's advisory committee (but aside from my article, we had no involvement in the process).

Nor have I had a chance to read through it. But who couldn't find several things to love in the regular reviews and interviews, and the rest of the table of contents?

* Lisa Alzo interviewing four professionals on staying professional on social media.
* Sara Scribner on JSTOR and LibGuides. (Yes, I did say, "What's a LibGuide?")
* Barbara Ball on georeferencing.
* Marian Pierre-Louis on making sure you put your best online foot forward.
* George Morgan on organization for presenters.
* Michael Hait on the difference between a report and a case study. (Anyone going for certification without knowing this? Time to find out!)
* Blaine Bettinger on Genetic Genealogy Standards.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Fourth and (sort of) last installment of "A Missing Heir" on the Bassett family in NYGBR

My mother-in-law's paternal Bassett line has now got its due in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. The Record does problems, which is how this four-part series started off, with the puzzle of how apparent oldest daughter Elizabeth could be omitted from the list of legal heirs when her father died.

The Record also does documentation of families, which in the case of Lewis Bassett (1776-1871) and Dorcas Hoxie (1782-1832) amounted to twelve children and 67 grandchildren, plus assorted spouses. Each of the 79 has their own sentence or paragraphs in the genealogical summary, which is why the article had to appear in four installments. The nine children who had descendants were:

* Elizabeth (Bassett ) Porter (1798-1855) with 13 children,
* Peleg Hoxie Bassett (1800-1891) with 9,
* William Riley Bassett (1802-1889) with 10,
* Lucy (Bassett) Hoffman (1805-1882) with 10,
* Harriet (Bassett) Burdick (1807-1874) with 6,
* Nathan Lee Bassett (1808-1833) with 5,
* Samuel Clark Bassett (1811-1878) with 7,
* Sarah Emiline (Bassett) Utter (1817-1898) with 5, and
* Hannah (Bassett) Crandall (1822-1899) with 2.

As with many 19th-century families, the older children were far more prolific than the younger. Five of the nine stayed in New York; Elizabeth, Lucy, and Harriet died in Illinois, Nathan in Wisconsin.

Grandchildren or their spouses worked as farmer, miner, local official, attorney/soldier, clerk, box manufacturer, hoe manufacturer, dry goods merchant, machinist, blacksmith, teacher, lumber agent, insurance salesman, college professor, engineer, carpenter, tailor, cowboy, and auto mechanic. Many served in the Civil War, arguably the defining event for this generation.

Three women among the grandchildren lived on their own without marrying. One was a milliner, one ran a boardinghouse, and one may have become a Catholic nun -- if true, a most unusual career path from a long-time Baptist family.

The grandchildren's generation lasted 136 years, from the birth of Harry B. Porter, Elizabeth's child, in 1815 when James Madison was President, to the death of William Henry Bassett, Samuel's child, in 1951, when Harry Truman was President.

Most of the grandchildren's stories could occupy more than a paragraph or two. So if 45 pages and 583 reference notes sounds like a lot, these folks could easily fill a book, and maybe someday they will. (And strictly speaking we're not quite done, as the Porter family into which Elizabeth married has its documentation still to come.)

“A Missing Heir: Reconnecting Elizabeth (Bassett) Porter to Her Parents, Lewis and Dorcas (Hoxie) Bassett,” New York Genealogical and Biographical Record in four parts:

145 (July 2014): 165-84,
145 (October 2014): 281-91,
146 (April 2015): 117-23,
146 (July 2015): 198-208.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Genealogy experiments with indirect evidence

That's the title of my article just published in the September issue of On Board, the newsletter of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. It's about how indirect evidence worked in my earlier article about the family of Indiana natives John H. and his wife Elizabeth (Smith) Smith, who ended up in Bonner Springs, Kansas.

On Board appears three times a year and anyone with $15 to spare can subscribe here. Or you can read selected article from past issues for free on the BCG's website here. The NGS Quarterly is a benefit of membership in the National Genealogical Society.

“Genealogy Experiments: Indirect Evidence Up Close,” On Board vol. 21, issue 3 (September 2015): 21-22.

“Crossing the Continent with Common Names: Indiana Natives John and Elizabeth (Smith) Smith,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 103 (March 2015): 29-35.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Fall 2015 talks

In between the sloth of summer and the hibernation of winter are the seasons where it's actually fun to get things done. This fall I have five speaking engagements coming up.

Tuesday evening September 8, La Porte County Genealogical Society, La Porte, Indiana:
"Probate Will Not Be the Death of You" (digest version).

Saturday September 19, Willard Library, Evansville, Indiana:
"Why We Don't Write and How We Can"
"Indirect Evidence: When Perry Mason Isn't on Your Side"
"Probate Will Not Be the Death of You"
" 'Are We There Yet?' Proof and the Genealogy Police," a case study

Saturday October 17, Northwest Indiana Genealogical Society, Valparaiso, Indiana:
"Land and Property: The Records No Genealogist Can Do Without"

Tuesday evening October 20, Marshall County Genealogical Society, Plymouth, Indiana:
"Ten Commandments for Being a Good Genealogy Client"

Tuesday evening November 17, Board for Certification of Genealogists public online webinar:
"Do You Have the Reflexes You Need to Become Certified? Fifteen Things Your Grandfather Would Tell You . . . If I Were Your Grandfather"