Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Colonial Fire Hose

This article is one in a series of session reports from the recent BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. I tweeted the session live, but I hate to send you to Twitter to read them because they appear there in reverse chronological order. I’ve straightened them out for you here.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Karen Clifford, "Electronic Sources & Colonial Research" (PLUS UPDATES)
I was visiting with some vendors and arrived late to the presentation. I inferred from Karen’s comments during the session that she realized her prepared presentation only covered New England, despite the session title and description. I think she might have filled out the presentation at the last moment with additional slides which causes her to present incredibly fast. It was like drinking from a fire hose! As a result, I’ve supplemented my tweets with additions from her syllabus plus my own thinking, both shown in italics.
To see the syllabus notes for an earlier version of this presentation, click here.
The research process for Internet resources is the same as normal sources.
1. Decide what you want to learn:
    - an individual identity
    - a complete name
    - the rest of the family
    - a date
    - a  location
    - a relationship (or cement a suspected relationship)
    - evidence
2. Select the websites most likely to have what you want to learn.
3. Search the sites.
4. Copy and paste text information to avoid errors. Save digital images of imaged records.
5. Create a source citation, including the website’s source for the information.
6. Evaluate the reliability of the source and the information for use as evidence. If warranted, make conclusions.
7. Note any needs or suggestions for future research.
8. Use an organized method to store your findings: your copies of the evidence, citations, any conclusions made, and written explanations of non-obvious reasoning.
Learn some background: history, geography, rulers. 
ProQuest at a library.
HeritageQuest at a library. Historical books: click on Search Records > Historical Books. local and family histories. Search using the Stories and Publications tab of Old Search, or use the Card Catalog to locate books about the location.
To determine a location during a specific time period, try Wikipedia.
Colonials often came from Britain. See 
Why might a search not find who or what you’re looking for?
Phonetics, human errors, record condition, records lost,
onomastics studies evolution of name spelling based on pronunciation,
online spelling may not match the spelling you expect.
How do you establish complete identity? complete name (variants, aliases, nicknames), family members, event dates, location (as known at the time), customs of the day.
Some colonists went back to England and back to America because of English historical events.
Understand how names were recorded in 16/17th centuries. Abbreviations for John and Thomas look similar.
New England: Immigration was orderly and recorded. Records are available in England. Records better preserved. State lines changed.
Vitals kept at town level. Church records cataloged under state because itinerant preachers.
Utilize Town Records. Records are scattered throughout the little towns in a county. Check company records, such as Mayflower record
Some historic New England company records available in England, some on FHL microfilm, some @BYU.
Ask about family histories: how old was the author? how old were the informants? Personal information is more believable.
New England settlements established commonwealth of men of unquestioned common faith.
Historic background: LOC, Archives at Tufts, …
…,, Google the state archives, university archives and libraries,
There have been excellent presentations at this conference on colonial sources among ethnic groups: Huguenots, Irish, etc.
When stuck, use these approaches: 1. Locality, 2. Historical, 3. Timeline, 4. Associates.
New Eng towns elected Selectmen. Settlements small, self-sustaining agriculture.
Puritans - purify COE [Church of England]. Separatists - via Leyden, left COE. Huguenots - French Protestant settled in Boston, Salem, New Oxford.
Military records excellent. Many Indian wars in 1600s. Resulted in land grants. 1700s French/Indian wars. Devastated N.E. 1755-1763.
People settled and moved in groups. 1700 mail service in MA only.
Separate books for: town meetings, births, marriages, court, cattle, ... It takes time to figure out where the records ended up.
Establish timelines for your ancestors to distinguish among same-named people.
Waterways often established migration routes.
Mayflower Society 5-generation books (“Silver Books”) and
Mayflower Families in Progress (“Pink Books”).
The Great Migration books from NEHGS.
Colonial Time Lines:
(From the syllabus:) – In my whirlwind look, I didn’t see where the colonial information was located. If you know, I’d be pleased if you would click on Comments and share it with everyone. – According to the Internet Archive, this site has been dead since May 2004. – Try this link. – While I’m not certain how Medieval History will help in colonial research, there are some tempting links for citing sources, modern history, and Jewish history.
That was a fire hose presentation. Couldn't capture more than a tenth of what she covered, but not certain anyone else did either.

Remember that tweets are limited to 140 characters. Less the #byugen hashtag, each tweet could not exceed 132 characters. Hence, tweets often use abbreviations, bad grammar, and lack proper punctuation.

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