Yesterday I wrote the first part of my report about Lisa Elzey’s presentation at the 2015 BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. She titled her presentation, “Ancestry.com: How the Records Tell the Story.” Today, I continue with part 2.
3. Analyze the Details
Timelines, dates, and historical events can be used to analyze the details.
Lisa used an Excel spreadsheet for one example timeline. She had columns for dates, places, comments, and sources. It looked like some of her sources hyperlinked right to the sources. The new Ancestry has a built-in timeline which can be helpful.
Analyze why dates are important. Compare to calendar events, major holidays, community events, and seasons. Compare dates to those of historical events. In the new Ancestry, Life Story includes historical events.
Always ask yourself why your family members did what they did. Look for changes, such as disappearance, immigration, change in economics, and first-time occurrences such as literacy and property ownership. Look for differences, such as religion, ethnicity, language, economic standing, race, and age. As an example, Lisa showed the family of John and Tersa Flynn in the 1900 census in Seattle. John was a master mariner. His oldest son, George, was born at sea. The next two children, Maud and Marguerita, were born off the coast of Peru. Next, Evelin was born at sea, Edeth in Calcutta, and Henry at sea. The last child, Grace, was born back in John and Tersa’s native England. Do you see what probably happened? Apparently, he took his entire family on ship. Eventually they went back to England before Grace was born. From there they retired in Seattle at a time when many from England were going there.
4. Tell the story
Lisa showed us a case study about Leland Wright who appears in the 1930 U.S. census in Miami, Dade, Florida with his family, Leath, Juanita, Cora, George, and Roy. If I recall correctly, the case study arose out of what initially appeared to be a simple question from a user. And if memory serves, the question was: What ever happened to Leland? What appeared to be a straightforward question evolved into a tale so fascinating, Lisa is writing it up. Watch for the story coming soon to the Ancestry Blog.
5. Purpose + Audience = Project
Lisa quoted from the results of an Emory University study. “Children understand who they are in the world not only through their individual experience, but through the filters of family stories that provide a sense of identity through historical time,” says the study. (See “Children Benefit if They Know About Their Relatives, Study Finds,” Emory University [http://www.emory.edu : accessed 15 August 2015], path: News & Events > News Releases > 2010 > Archives > March. The link to the paper is no longer functional. See a PDF copy at “History Relevance Campaign,” Public History Commons [http://publichistorycommons.org/history-relevance-campaign : accessed 15 August 2015], hotlink titled “‘Do You Know…’ The Power of Family History in Adolescent Identity and Well-being.”)
6. Share the Story
Lisa had a video conference with the great-grandson of James Wright and shared the documents and what she had learned about the Wright family. The results were pretty touching. Watch for Lisa’s blog article to hear the rest of the story.
To ask for a copy of the flyer from Lisa’s class, write firstname.lastname@example.org. Some Who Do You Think You Are? episodes are available for free on the WDYTYA website. Seasons four, five, and six are available for purchase on YouTube or iTunes.