Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Family History Mission: A Visit to the Library of Congress

Library of Congress
No. 54

Note: You can do a Google search for "A Family History Mission James Tanner" to see all the previous posts in this ongoing series. You can also search for "James Tanner genealogy" and find them or click back through all the posts.

We finally made a trip to the Library of Congress. If you know much about our family, you know that books are an important part of our family's culture. Also, we a known for taking out-of-town visitors on tours of our local libraries. We also tend to visit libraries across the country. We rode the Metro downtown and walked a block or so to the Library.

It was a lovely warm day in April, which is quite a treat after an endless winter. We planned to take a guided tour of the Library but got there just as the tours left so we decided to wander around a bit.


I thought we might as well get started looking at the books, so we found the Registration Room to apply for "Readers Cards." The application process turned out to be efficient and quite simple and we very shortly had our cards in hand.


As Senior Missionaries, we are encouraged to take advantage of cultural and educational opportunities in our mission area. We don't have an official "Preparation Day," but we now work all day Monday through Friday. That means that anything that takes time is done on Saturday.

Back to the Library of Congress. We went right across the hallway from the Registration Room to the Big Reading Room of the Library.


We met two very nice staff workers who spent a considerable amount of time explaining the use of the Library and showing us where to look for genealogy books. The Library of Congress used to have a Local History and Genealogy Reading room but that has been abandoned and the reference books that were in that room are now in the general reference stacks.


This area is not quite as impressive as the rest of the Library. We got unlimited access to the reference books in this area.


Although there is an extensive online catalog, the Library still has its 3 x5 card catalogs available for searching.


I am afraid that my fingers don't work as well as they did when I was searching the card catalog in the University of Utah Library so many years ago. But I did find the Rhode Island books and, out of habit, we both started doing research.


My wife Ann ordered a book, but it was not available. We spent a couple of hours before we came to our senses and decided to see the rest of the Library. Here is what the Reading Room looks like from the ground floor.


We then walked across the street to the Capitol and went on a tour.  We also got to see the National Botanical Garden for about half an hour before we got on the train to go back to Annapolis.

I will probably write about the Library of Congress. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Building a Family Tree: An Example on FamilySearch.org -- Project Seven

This post is another in the unending series of Projects I am doing to research different people in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. See the comment at the end of this post for a further explanation of the Projects.


This is how I am related to this person.


It is relatively easy to find these opportunities in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. I can often see the opportunity when I notice that none of the date or place entries have been standardized. This indicates that no consistent work has yet been done on this person and by implication her family line. As a cautionary note, I am using this person as an example of research methodology. Although her husband is my cousin and her children would be my cousins, technically, she is not my cousin and I am not related to her parents or ancestors. Hmm. However, this brings up an interesting issue. Assuming that during this time period, people married their cousins, I am very likely related to her and her family if I do enough research.

The first step is to standardize all the data.  Don't forget to standardize the marriage information is there is any. The next step is to add any Record Hints that might be available.


Once this is done, we need to look at the information we have available and examine all the sources to make sure the information is reflected in the main entries. We already have a conflict in that the birth name is variously recorded as "Naomi" or "Laomi." I am guessing that the name is Naomi, and a quick check by a Google search for "Laomi" indicates that the word probably does not exist and is an error but it is possible that the name was unique.

After standardizing the dates and places, I begin with a search on FamilySearch.org by clicking on the link in the "Search Records" sidebar. The record already shows the name of her mother and husband, but no children.


Are there any additional records beyond the sources already listed?


She should show up in subsequent England and Wales Census records and possibly elsewhere. There may also be a death record. The listed birth records only show a mother's name. This may reflect that she was born out-of-wedlock or simply that the father was not recorded. After searching on FamilySearch, I note that I should pay attention to the county because there are a number of women with the same given name and similar surnames around England. I also add in the husband's name and change her surname to Harrington. When I do this, I find the 1881 Census.


Still no children, I search for her husband and I remember to add in her name as a spouse and come up with a marriage record. The rest of the search is inconclusive. Now, I turn to Ancestry.com.  I immediately find a more complete marriage record this time giving her father's name.

However, in the course of working on this family, I began to verify the connections through the Harrington line. Oops. That's where I should have started. My ancestor Sarah Harrington is definitely the wife of Joseph De Friez. But from there the line needs to be verified. Like so many of the entries in the Family Tree going back this far in time, there are some serious problems. I guess this is where this example ends for the time being.

An added note: With help from my daughter Melinda, we are verifying the Sarah Harrington family line. It looks like what was in the Family Tree was generally correct but needed some additional sources. Make sure you are related to those in the Family Tree.

Explanation of how this project began and why I am pursuing it.

In this project, I started out by picking a somewhat random person from my ancestors' descendants who lived in the 20th Century from the FamilySearch.org Family Tree and to hopefully show, step-by-step, the research needed to extend that person's family tree back several generations. Finding a person who has no apparent ancestors in the Family Tree is relatively easy for those who lived in or into the 20th Century. However, I am not able to use any of my own family lines because my direct lines all end back, at least, six generations. To clarify this project, I will not be reserving any of the people I discover for my own Temple List. I will simply leave the "green icons" on the Family Tree for that person's descendants to find and use for themselves. Please refrain from doing the temple work for people to whom you are not related.

Now, after I got going doing the research, I got a couple of requests to research some people further back in time. These turned out to be old, established "end-of-line" situations. Since my original idea was to demonstrate finding people, I started with easier challenges. But in any event,  I may or may not find new people to add to the FamilyTree. Since the families I choose are in an "end-of-line" sort of situation independent of the time frame, there is no guarantee that I will be any more successful than the average user of the Family Tree in finding additional family members. In any event, I hope that my efforts as recorded will help either the family members or others to find more information about their ancestral families and relatives.

Why am I doing this? For the past 15 years or so, I have been helping hundreds (thousands?) of people find their ancestors. I simply intend to document the process in detail with real examples so that you can see exactly how I find family lines. I simply want to show where those "green icons" come from. Since the FamilySearch.org Family Tree is entirely cooperative, I will simply assume that when I find a family that needs some research that I am helping that family. By the way, this is Project Five of the series because I intend to do this over and over with different examples.

There is another reason why I am doing this. Because I constantly offer to help people find their ancestors and I get relatively few that take advantage of that offer. I need to spend some of my excess energy.

Friday, April 20, 2018

A Family History Mission: Working At the Archives

Archival storage shelves in the Maryland State Archives
No. 53

Note: You can do a Google search for "A Family History Mission James Tanner" to see all the previous posts in this ongoing series. You can also search for "James Tanner genealogy" and find them or click back through all the posts.

One thing that does become clear after almost five months of serving as a Record Preservation Specialist for FamilySearch as a Senior Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that it is hard work. I am realizing that I was getting tired after 8 hours or so of work at the Maryland State Archives digitizing and preparing documents. Many days, I find I have to crash and take a half hour nap when we get back to our apartment so I can keep going into the evening.

I have been visiting the local Annapolis Family History Center as much as possible, usually on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. They are open during the day, but of course, we are working at the Archives. As has been my experience with many Family History Centers, it takes a significant effort on the part of the volunteer staff and their supporting Stake organizations to publicize the Family History Center so members and others will come and use the facility. What I have noticed, however, that absent classes and other outreach programs, the Family History Centers are little used. This is most likely due to the fact that much of the information needed for research is available online.

Now that we have been serving for a while, we are pretty much down to a routine. What does happen from time to time to make life interesting is the challenge of digitizing a book that is falling apart from age and use. Here is a recent example:


Here is a closer look at the issues involved in digitizing this record.


At some time in the past, attempts were made to "fix" the problem by using sticky tape and that has now dried and become discolored. The pages of this book were so brittle that they were falling apart. We carefully digitized each page. The benefit of digitization is that the inevitable loss of this book's contents has now been delayed indefinitely. This example does NOT show any lack of care on the part of the Archives, it is a natural process that was made worse by the use of the book from the time it was created. This damage shows that the book was heavily used until it literally fell apart.

This book took almost an entire day to digitize.

As we work in the Archives, our appreciation for the importance of helping to preserve these priceless genealogically important documents increases every day. 

New Senior Missionary Opportunities Website

https://seniormissionary.lds.org/srsite/

The new Senior Missionary Opportunities website has a huge list of opportunities for seniors to serve missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The variety of experiences and opportunities seems almost limitless. After answering a few simple questions, you can see a customized list of opportunities serving your interests. Here is part of the list for Full-Time missionaries who would like to serve in the area of Family History.


If you would like to serve or are only dreaming about the possibility, you will enjoy see the long list of places and ways that you can serve.

Here is the URL

https://seniormissionary.lds.org/srsite/ 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Building a Family Tree: An Example on FamilySearch.org -- Project Six, Part Two

This post is another in the unending series of Projects I am doing to research different people in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. See the comment at the end of this post for a further explanation of the Projects. 


In my earlier post about Thomas Gray, I ended by leaving many unsolved questions about the family. But thanks to a surprise helper in England, I received a message through the FamilySearch.org website about some wonderful progress he had made. Here is his message:
Hello again. It's been a while since we communicated. 
I thought you might like to know I've had a look through KNCB-72K Beatrice Clarke and made a bit of progress on sourcing etc. Got her birth and marriage registry index entries, but most importantly I've found her and her husband in the 1911 census. He and one child were at his parents' house in Rettendon in Essex, in between Southend and Chelmsford. She and the other four children were at her mother's house in Ryde on the Isle of Wight. The reason you weren't easily able to find her was that she was 10 years too old in that census: she was down as having been born in 1873. 
All of the children's birth entries show Clarke as the maiden name in the GRO indices, and I've filled in the appropriate middle names. I've not dealt with the rather ludicrous death dates for the twins of "2010", but I think I might have a proper death date for the male twin, just no proper sources to prove it. There's a Findagrave entry which has him born 17th April 1907 and dying in 1986 in Queensland in Australia. I've also found Australian electoral register entries corresponding to a couple of his siblings as well on Ancestry. It appears that some of the children at least ended up in Australia by about 1930 as an entry for Kathleen Prudence Margaret Harmer has her in New South Wales by 1934 and an entry for Robert Alfred Sutton Harmer has him in New South Wales by 1930. There also appears to be an Australian military service record Robert Alfred Sutton Harmer with him having a birth date of 7th March 1909, a birth place of Essex, England and next of kin of Alma Harmer. 
So I'd suggest Australia might be a fertile hunting ground for the mysterious second husband Mr Gray. 
BTW since my last message I've found the Gray-Harmer marriage you were looking for. 1930, Inverell, New South Wales.
You may have heard me mention the amazing experience I had with this commentator the first time I heard from him. I had discovered a family that needed some work on the Family Tree and left off working on the family until the next day only to discover that this person in England had filled in all the blanks and provided sources for the entire family. Now, it happens again.

It is so amazing to encounter such a superb example of genealogical research and see how it can be done in a such a short time using online tools. All I can say is thank you for the help and the example of outstanding research. Now I need to get busy and do a Part Three to this Project and see what more I can find.

Explanation of how this project began and why I am pursuing it.

In this project, I started out by picking a somewhat random person from my ancestors' descendants who lived in the 20th Century from the FamilySearch.org Family Tree and to hopefully show, step-by-step, the research needed to extend that person's family tree back several generations. Finding a person who has no apparent ancestors in the Family Tree is relatively easy for those who lived in or into the 20th Century. However, I am not able to use any of my own family lines because my direct lines all end back, at least, six generations. To clarify this project, I will not be reserving any of the people I discover for my own Temple List. I will simply leave the "green icons" on the Family Tree for that person's descendants to find and use for themselves. Please refrain from doing the temple work for people to whom you are not related.

Now, after I got going doing the research, I got a couple of requests to research some people further back in time. These turned out to be old, established "end-of-line" situations. Since my original idea was to demonstrate finding people, I started with easier challenges. But in any event,  I may or may not find new people to add to the FamilyTree. Since the families I choose are in an "end-of-line" sort of situation independent of the time frame, there is no guarantee that I will be any more successful than the average user of the Family Tree in finding additional family members. In any event, I hope that my efforts as recorded will help either the family members or others to find more information about their ancestral families and relatives.

Why am I doing this? For the past 15 years or so, I have been helping hundreds (thousands?) of people find their ancestors. I simply intend to document the process in detail with real examples so that you can see exactly how I find family lines. I simply want to show where those "green icons" come from. Since the FamilySearch.org Family Tree is entirely cooperative, I will simply assume that when I find a family that needs some research that I am helping that family. By the way, this is Project Five of the series because I intend to do this over and over with different examples.

There is another reason why I am doing this. Because I constantly offer to help people find their ancestors and I get relatively few that take advantage of that offer. I need to spend some of my excess energy.

Interesting Observations on the Historical Record Collections


I get a weekly notice from FamilySearch.org about all of the new or updated Historical Records added by FamilySearch. You might recall that the "Historical Record Collections" are linked from the main "Search" tab on the web pages of the website.


Now, what is interesting is that for the past few weeks all the records being uploaded to the Historical Record Collections are indexes without additional images. At the same time, the number of digital images published only in the FamilySearch Catalog has grown to 746.3 million. I am informed that the total number of images online on FamilySearch.org will soon reach or has reached by the date of this post, 2 billion images. So almost half of those images are available only by searching in the Catalog.

I am supposing that FamilySearch is trying to make the images already in the Historical Record Collections searchable, hence, the addition of indexes to these images. But if you are doing research, you need to realize that if you don't look for records in the Catalog, you will be missing a significant percentage of the total records on the website. This means that searching for records by using a name search is not entirely effective.

A Family History Mission: Dorsey Graveyard at Home Depot

No. 53

Note: You can do a Google search for "A Family History Mission James Tanner" to see all the previous posts in this ongoing series. You can also search for "James Tanner genealogy" and find them or click back through all the posts.



Most towns in the West have one or maybe two large cemeteries. Smaller cemeteries are not unheard of but they are not usually located in a Home Depot parking lot. I had to drive over to this Home Depot and take a look for myself. Here is the photo of the "graveyard."


We drive by two larger cemeteries on our way to work at the Maryland State Archives every day, five days a week. Almost everywhere we go around Annapolis we find another graveyard. I guess we are in the right place to digitize probate records for family history.