If you just don't know what to say or do when confronted with a land record, my friend and colleague Kimberly Powell has ten sure-fire research-conversation starters over at About.com.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Genealogy is bigger than we think. Over at Archives.com's "Expert Series," some thoughts on when to enthuse and when to calm down. After enthusiasm, it's all about focus, persistence, and analysis.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
I'm delighted to see another blogger, Jill Morelli over at Genealogy Certification: My Personal Journal, publicly reading and analyzing the best work in the field, here and here, under the heading of "Analyzing Ten NGSQ Articles."
She has a different approach to them than I had thought of. Any time the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and other top journals can get a fraction of the social-media exposure that software updates and misleading television shows routinely receive, I'm all for it. Additional publicity here.
Now that I think of it, this blog has gotten away from posting about these journals in recent weeks...
Harold Henderson, "Jill Morelli analyzes ten NGSQ articles," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 3 December 2013 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]
Monday, December 2, 2013
Often genealogy problems grow. What I once described as a "small genealogy article" has now metamorphosed into a draft in three parts, each of which is (at the moment) well above the normal size.
Sometimes genealogy problems shrink. At one point I was trying to answer an identity question: whether same-name men in eastern New York, western New York, and central Illinois were the same or different. The problem seemed fiendishly difficult, but it turned out to be quite simple to solve (land and probate records were the keys, of course). "Problem shrinkage" can be a real problem for someone trying to locate suitable cases for a BCG portfolio: what looks difficult going in may turn out to be easy after all.
To some extent, problem-spotting is a skill in itself that develops over time, as we read more advanced articles, encounter more situations, and get to know the relevant record sets and ways to use them. But sometimes it's just a matter of luck.
There are also problems that grow laterally, also known as "rabbit holes." Usually they involve collaterals rather than ancestors. An upstate New York cousin of my wife's great-grandfather married into a wealthy Chicago clan (wealthy in the sense of paying lawyers tens of thousands of dollars in order to avoid spending too much money on lawsuits, a full century ago). Some of the ensuing probates and lawsuits name and locate many relatives and associates -- much as the will of a bachelor uncle or spinster aunt can do. So much data -- now I need to identify a question that it answers!
Harold Henderson, "Genealogy problems can grow, shrink, or metastasize," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 2 December 2013 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Now I've come to realize why hiring this kind of help doesn't fit my style. Sometimes I notice new things when I have to mess around with data or formatting one more time -- creating an associates list, or looking through a census page by page, or just trying to find the right image in a multi-volume digitized record set. It reminds me of someone's lament from sixty years ago or so, when mechanical dryers were replacing the once-ubiquitous backyard clotheslines. Most housewives were happy to be liberated from capricious weather conditions and boring labor, but one of them did lament: "I used to do some of my best thinking at the clothesline."
At some levels, genealogy is all about rearranging random things and trying to see patterns in them (in order to have something to verify!). And sometimes I think better when I'm not trying to. If this is your pattern too, you may be better off with more routine tasks to perform!
elvissa's photostream http://www.flickr.com/photos/elvissa/89273755, per Creative Commons
Harold Henderson, "'I used to do some of my best thinking at the clothesline,'" Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 30 November 2013 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]
Friday, November 29, 2013
Check out Sonja Hunter's alert and analysis at Bushwhacking Genealogy: Kalamazoo and Beyond. (Can you tell I'm behind in my blog reading?!)
Thursday, November 28, 2013
The Internet Scout Report tells about the New York State Library's new collection of "Selected Digital Historical Documents," that is, resources for finding historical materials about the Empire State, such as laws (including revised statutes of 1829 and 1882), and a list of bibliographies and indexes of state documents. Revolutionary and Civil War holdings are also available.
Don't miss the statistical summaries of the state censuses, which have what could be backhanded information about individuals (if you can identify them) as well as contextual information on what was happening in particular towns. The Town of Amity in Allegany County, for instance, had no lunatics, two idiots (both under 21), eleven sawmills, one distillery (producing $1100 worth of distilled product), and one ashery. I have mainly used these summaries to compare my research target's land and production with the town or county average.
Also don't miss the 1981 publication that gives a full listing of questions asked each year in both state and federal censuses.
The interface here is not ideal. The above-mentioned publication places original page 43 on digital page 49, for instance.
Harold Henderson, "Good news for New York researchers!," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 29 November 2013 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]