Friday, September 24, 2010

The Genealogical Proof Standard - Simplified

I just received a wonderful link in my inbox. It's a sorely needed article on Ancestry, explaining in general the difference between original and derivative sources, as well as primary and secondary information. I have heard too many times something like "I traced my family tree back to the 1500s," while in the fact the person has taken all or most of their information from a family tree on Ancestry, with little or no source information.

I have used public member trees extensively on Ancestry, with great success - but, they are just a clue, to point you towards (possible) evidence of your ancestry. As the article says, "tying into a database doesn't suffice as proof."

A must-read: 

Have You Really Proved Your Ancestry? by Mary Harrell.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ancestry Expert Connect Success, School Stalling

Well, I haven't had much to write lately, because I've had to limit the number of classes I'm taking due to financial concerns. However, I am currently in the Analysis & Skills Mentoring Program (Part 1) at NIGS. It has been wonderful to get one-on-one feedback from the teachers there. You have at least two private consultations to discuss your overall progress as well as specific assignments related to the ASM class, and you can schedule more for a fee. There are also, as with the other classes, chats with other students and at least one teacher. The assignments are essentially simple case studies, as well as one which asks you to analyze a scholarly genealogy article (which you then discuss in one of the chat sessions). Overall, an excellent checkpoint after you've completed the first two methodology classes.

I have also been very busy with some small projects through Ancestry's Expert Connect. I have had much luck in obtaining interesting projects, and working with great clients. My one complaint is that I spend a great deal of time rejecting projects that are out of my area. I wish there were a way to help clients pick the right professionals to invite to their projects, to save their time and ours. I don't want to ignore these clients and not respond to them, but sometimes it is just too overwhelming to go through all of the invitations, only to find I can't help many of those clients at all.

Which brings me to my (second-to) last point: Any researchers out there in the Philadelphia area interested in trying out Expert Connect? I have to turn away a great deal of people who need records around Philadelphia, or elsewhere in eastern PA. While I have access to a limited number of these records through the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, these clients need someone who has easier access to more eastern PA records (and many, many people don't realize that it takes about 6 hours to get from one end of PA to the other).

A quick plug for a genealogy program I've been using a lot lately - RootsMagic 4. The interface isn't fancy, but it does have templates to help you cite your sources correctly (very important!!), and the GenSmarts plug-in has helped me kick-start some research with specific suggestions of collections to search. Very cool new toy (and GenSmarts works with some other genealogy programs as well). 

Hopefully I can get back into the habit of posting more often.