Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rating My Genealogical Maturity - 2012

Through a recent blog post on Tonia's Roots I have found the Genealogical Maturity Model on The Ancestry Insider. While I don't agree with everything on it, I think it will be useful to help me identify areas of my genealogical work that could use some improvement.

So, here's my assessment as of right now, leaving out the Conclusion Trees section, which I find unpleasantly elitist (and apparently I'm not alone in that):


# Level Sources Check
1. Entry Typically relies on compiled genealogies.
2. Emerging Mostly relies on compiled genealogies and online sources.
3. Practicing Uses a limited number of record types and repositories. Mostly relies on online and microfilmed sources.  x
4. Proficient Uses a wide variety of record types. Often contacts record custodians to obtain copies of high-quality sources.
5. Stellar Insightfully pursues research at multiple, targeted repositories, making use of a plethora of records and record types. "Burned counties" are not roadblocks.

The number of record types I use is increasing all the time, but I still don't use much that isn't available online. The parish records I'm looking at now for my One Place Study are probably the first offline records I've used.


# Level Citations Check
1. Entry Captures URLs for online sources and citations for published sources.  x
2. Emerging Increasingly captures necessary information for manuscript sources.
3. Practicing Typically produces complete source citations.
4. Proficient Gives complete and accurate source citations including provenance and quality assessment.
5. Stellar Overcomes limitations of genealogical software to create well organized, industry standard reference notes and source lists.

OK, I admit it. Most of my citations are just links to the record online. I really should work on this.


# Level Information Check
1. Entry Typically does not realize the need to judge information quality and has no basis for doing so.
2. Emerging Emerging realization that information quality differs. Muddles evaluation by thinking of primary/secondary sources instead of primary/secondary information, leading to muddled evaluation when sources contain both.
3. Practicing Judges information by source type, informant knowledge, and record timing. Applies "primary/secondary" to information instead of sources.  x
4. Proficient Additionally, learns history necessary to recognize and evaluate all explicit information in a source.
5. Stellar Additionally, utilizes implicit information in a source. Finds information in cases like illegitimacy that stump most researchers.


# Level Evidence Check
1. Entry Limited understanding of evidence and the role it plays. Typically ignores conflicting evidence.
2. Emerging Captures direct, supporting evidence and increasingly depends upon it.
3. Practicing Additionally, captures directly conflicting evidence.
4. Proficient Additionally, recognizes and captures indirect, supporting evidence.  x
5. Stellar Additionally, recognizes and captures indirect, conflicting evidence.


# Level Conclusions Check
1. Entry In the absence of analysis, reaches conclusions by instinct.
2. Emerging Learning to evaluate the quality of sources, information, and evidence. Emerging ability to resolve minor discrepancies.
3. Practicing Additionally, resolves conflicting evidence or uses it to disprove prevalent opinion. Usually applies correct identity to persons mentioned in sources.  x
4. Proficient Additionally, when necessary creates soundly reasoned, coherently documented conclusions utilizing direct and indirect evidence.
5. Stellar Additionally: Publishes clear and convincing conclusions. Teaches and inspires others.

Overall Level

Category Level
Sources  3
Citations  1
Information  3
Evidence  4
Conclusions  3

So, just under Practicing. Not quite the result I was hoping for! Obviously, citations are what I need to work on the most. So as a next step, I think I'll look up what citation formats are standard in the genealogical community, and start applying them to my citations on WikiTree. That, and my New Year's resolutions...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I got an award!

Lora from whippersnappergenealogist awarded me the Liebster Blog Award! This award is given to blogs that have fewer than 200 followers and deserve more recognition and encouragement. I'm so touched! :)

In a process that is suspiciously like chain mail, this is how it works:

  1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
  2. Link back to the blogger who awarded you.
  3. Put the award on your blog.
  4. Nominate 5 blogs to receive the award.
  5. Inform them of their nomination by leaving a comment on their blog.
So, here are the bloggers I'd like to show a little love to today! (I'm gonna cheat and only do 3, out of a combination of laziness and the fact that I follow lots of blogs with more than 200 followers.)

The Demanding Genealogist: I was happy when I found this blog, because I think we're all guilty of less-than-scrupulous genealogy at times, and I appreciate having someone around calling us out on that! Even her blog posts are better cited than most of my WikiTree profiles!

Adventures in Genealogy: Deb gets this award most because of her Follow Friday Gems posts! On Fridays, she links to an amazing collection of great genealogy sites, articles, etc. that she finds around the web. Very useful!

Tangled Trees: Almost nothing on this blog has anything to do with my own genealogical research, and yet it's always interesting. With lots of pictures and interesting tidbits, there's something for everyone!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Joining WikiTree by invitation

You may have heard the news that WikiTree has gone invitation-only. This means that in order to join, you have to be invited by someone who is already a member.

Well, I'm already a member! So I just wanted to let my fellow geneabloggers (and anyone else who reads this blog) know that you can ask me for an invitation. The idea of this change is not to keep people from joining WikiTree. It's meant to slow things down a bit, and stop what was happening before, which was a lot of people joining just to dump their GEDCOMs there and forget them. That's not what WikiTree is about. If you join, it should be to participate in building the worldwide tree, which means being willing to merge profiles with other people and collaborate.

So, if you respect the WikiTree Honour Code and want to join this amazing community of genealogists, contact me for an invitation.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Jonas Aspinall - Mystery solved!

Jonas Aspinall, my great great grandfather
I wrote a post a while back about Jonas Aspinall's mistaken family tree. I've got it all sorted out now, and I'm sad to say that my family members who have worked on Jonas' family tree have done some unnecessary work. Jonas' father (also named Jonas) was confused with another Jonas Aspinall of approximately the same age. As a result, the line of Jonathon Aspinall was followed back instead of the line of Thomas Aspinall, who is my actual 4x great grandfather.

To determine which Jonas Aspinall was my 3x great grandfather, I ordered the younger Jonas Aspinall's birth record from the UK. (I'm confident that this Jonas is at least the right one, because there aren't any others born around the same time.)

Jonas Aspinall was born on the Eleventh of November 1857, in the registration district Great Boughton, in the sub-district of Chester Cathedral in the County of Chester and City of Chester. His father's name was Jonas Aspinall, a mattress manufacturer, and his mother's name was Ann Aspinall formerly Rangley. The birth was registered on the Twenty Fourth of November 1857, and the father was the informant.

When I had been searching on Ancestry and initially discovered this conundrum, I saw two marriage records for Jonas Aspinalls. The one that was with Ann Rangley recorded the groom's father as Thomas Aspinall. Somewhere along the way, someone found the other marriage record, between a different Jonas Aspinall and his wife Susey Sykes, with that Jonas Aspinall being a son of Jonathan Aspinall and Hannah Stake. This resulted in a false branch of my family tree.

It's scary to think how easy these mistakes are to make! I'd hate to think that my family tree could have branches in it that don't even belong there. Constant vigilance is required!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

St. François Xavier parish records

Today, I started my One Place Study of St. François Xavier, Manitoba. I'll tell you right now, this is gonna take a while. This morning I made my first trip to the St. Boniface Historical Society, my goal being simply to find the place (tucked away in the back of the Cultural Centre), sign up for a membership ($35 a year, to avoid the $5 a day to use the research facilities), and familiarise myself with the process of doing research there.

So, I set myself up with my laptop, and asked the archivist for the parish records for St. François Xavier. She returned with two boxes, each of which contained several books, with the records starting in 1834 (way earlier than I expected, since the R.M. wasn't formed until 1880!). It turns out that the copies at the Historical Society are photocopies, not microfilm like they have at the Manitoba Archives, so they might be slightly harder to read, but at least I don't have to miss work to use them (the Archives are only open 9-4 on weekdays, but the Historical Society opens for a few hours on Saturdays).

In addition, the genealogist working there (who was very helpful when the French went beyond my beginner level in the records) found me a book that was published by the Rural Munipality in 1980, called Our First 100 Years. It describes all the families of St. François Xavier, and even has pictures! When I looked under Daigneault, I found a picture of my great grandparents, Alphonse Richard and Bertha Daigneault, and their children, including my mémère! It was very exciting! That book will be helpful for putting together the information I find in the parish records.

Today, I only got through about 10 records. This is a small chunk of 1834. I only had about an hour to spend actually transcribing the records, though. In the future I'll have 3 hours each Saturday if I get there right when they open. If I could get through about a year's worth of records each week, it would only take me about 2 years to finish. And of course during the week I can be working on the census records and whatnot. Probably it will take longer, though, since there are probably a lot more records per year once I reach the late 1800s and early 1900s. I've got a huge project ahead of me, but one that I know will be worthwhile, and that I hope will be helpful to other genealogists.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The possibility of a One Place Study

Recently, I am finding myself drawn to an idea that might be disastrous in terms of my time and energy. I want to do a One Place Study. Basically, what that means is that I want to look at a single town, and do a complete genealogy of it. As in, go through every vital record, every census record, every record I can get my hands on, and compile this information in some useful way.

The place I want to study is St. François Xavier, Manitoba. I thought of this town for several reasons. First, it's pretty close by. I mean, I can't bike there (simply because the Trans Canada Highway is very bike-unfriendly), but as long as I can convince Mr. Canadian Family to drive for 45 minutes each way, I can get there. That means I can take pictures, transcribe tombstones, and all kinds of fun things like that.

I don't really have more ancestors there than other places, but for some reason I've always enjoyed really branching out on my family there. It's one of the places where my ancestors were during the period of 1881-1916, meaning there are census records to make things easy. That also means that if I find common descendants of my ancestors there, they're pretty closely related to me, which is always fun. The population is also fairly small, sitting at just a bit over 1000 today (though I think the definition of the town must have changed over time, at least as far as census subdistricts go; all the census numbers make sense except for 1901, when almost 2300 people were enumerated in St. François Xavier).

To be honest, I don't even know how much work this would take. But it just seems like such a fun thing to do. I'm already picturing myself publishing a book and being a minor celebrity within the tiny niche of Manitoba genealogists. :)

So far I've identified a couple of first steps:

  • Join the Manitoba Genealogical Society (I should have done this ages ago anyway). Find out what research has already been done so I'm not reinventing the wheel.
  • Find out how I can access the relevant vital records. Manitoba Archives doesn't have them, and Manitoba Vital Statistics does not allow the public to browse them (you can search them online, but to see the full record you have to order it; that would cost a lot for a whole town!). Hopefully the MGS can help me there. Also, the Family History Centre has the church records for the town, which are baptism, marriage, and burial records, so those would be similar to the vital records.
Are any of you working on a One Place Study? How did you get started on this monumental project?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blacking out tomorrow to stop SOPA

In case you aren't aware (I just found out today when I visited Wikipedia and then Geneabloggers), tomorrow a lot of websites will be blacking out in protest of SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act), a piece of proposed American legislation that is BAD for those of us who like a free and uncensored Internet, ie. all of us.

Therefore, even though this is not happening in my country, I have decided to black out my blogs tomorrow. I'm sorry for any inconvenience this may cause (though obviously I won't be posting any new content while my blog is blacked out).

For more information, see the post on Geneabloggers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - J.C. and Alice Lavoie

Today's tombstone is that of my great grandparents, Major Joseph Carmel Lavoie and Alice Bard, along with two of their children, Paul-Emile Lavoie and Marie-Anna Lavoie. Their grave is located in the St. Boniface Roman Catholic Cemetery in St. Boniface, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

An interesting thing about this tombstone is that it reveals two relatives I didn't know existed. Paul-Emile and Marie-Anna both died in the 1930s, when they were in their 20s. They are my dad's aunt and uncle, but he didn't know they existed because they died before he was born.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

December Wrap-Up

December was busy, and I was also lazy. But that's ok. Everyone needs a break now and then. :) And I was still pretty active on WikiTree, so even if I wasn't here as much I was still getting some stuff done. Here's how I did on my December goals:

  • Figure out what's going on with Jonas Aspinall's tree, and get my information all cleaned up with all false connections gone. Done! Though I still haven't written a blog post about it.
  • Go to the library at least once to work on my huge pile of record lookups. Done! I think I actually went to the library twice to use Ancestry Library Edition.
  • Put in several hours of scanning time. This, I did not do. I guess I missed hearing about Scanfest and totally forgot about it!
  • Go shopping for acid- and lignin-free photo albums for my grandma's photos. No, but I did get tips from some archivist friends on places where I could find some.