Thursday, May 15, 2014

Using OneNote in the Genealogical Process

Awhile ago, I blogged about my notetaking choice between Evernote and OneNote. Both are popular notetaking programs for genealogy, but I finally chose OneNote. It fits my organization style better than Evernote. Here's how I'm using it after reading Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones.

I chose to create a notebook for each ancestral surname and one for collateral surnames, including the additional maiden names from my ancestral lines. I also added specialized notebooks for my study groups and a general notebook for webinar notes, location studies, or foreign language tips, or anything else that strikes my fancy.

 


This notebook template isn't my own creation; I found it on the Internet sometime ago, but I can't remember where. If someone recognizes this, please let me know so I can give proper credit to the creator!

 

 

When a notebook is opened, there are tabs arranged across the top, called sections. These are like the dividers in a physical binder. They can be named however one desires and any number of notebooks can be created. The tab on the end with the elipses (...) indicates that there are several more sections hidden; clicking the triangle opens a dropdown menu with the names of the hidden sections.

 

 
 

 


Down the right side are the pages in the highlighted section. Pictured to the right are the pages in my research plan section. Each ancestor has a main page, on which I keep a research checklist, with several subpages beneath, each containing a research plan for a particular event in that ancestor's life. Any number of pages or subpages can be created can be created. Since Albert Herman has two marriages, a sub-subpage can be created for the former marriage, if desired.

Although I'd love to take credit for this research plan, this template is a modification of one that I found on the Internet some time ago. Again, I cannot remember where I found it or who to credit.


The research plan starts with a research question and then a list of all the facts--where it came from and who the informant was. A working hypothesis is crafted and a list of potential sources is created. From this source list, a research strategy is developed listing the order in which to search them. This order is likely to change as information is discovered and new sources are found.

 

 

 

 

 


Next is the research log in which the sources searched are recorded as they are used. If there are positive results to the search, any items scanned, copied or saved are recorded and then given a document name, which is also recorded here. If there is nothing found, this is also recorded since it might be used as negative evidence at some point.


This is also the time to record the citation while the source is still handy so there are no missing pieces to search for later.


Once all the citations are completed, a preliminary analysis of the source is done, recording the type of source and its provenance. This is information that can be cut and pasted to be used in other programs.

 

Each piece of information is briefly noted and analyzed, the informant recorded, and the evidence is labeled as direct, indirect or negative.

After the preliminary analysis is completed, any potential conflicts are recorded with ideas on how they might be resolved. This is where to note ideas about correlating the evidence and the best way to present it. Finally, a conclusion is drafted...

 

...and the cycle begins again as more questions emerge.

 

So far, I'm really liking this research plan template. It's been a great place to capture my thoughts and record my research all in one place. One thing I do want to point out is that this is only one section of my whole research notebook. When I add digital images of my records, which I can then hyperlink to webpages, notes in other sections, or to other computer files, I will never lose a piece of information again. But that's best left for a blog post for another time.

 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother's Day 1914-2014

The first Mother's Day was celebrated in 1908 when Ann Jarvis organized the celebration to honor her mother's death and the "sacrifices mothers made for their children." It didn't become an official U.S. holiday until 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson officially signed a proclamation declaring "the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day 'as a public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of our country.'"

In honor of Mother's Day, I decided to search my family tree for all the women who might have been alive to celebrate that first official Mother's Day. There were 10 mothers between the ages of 18 and 80 in my family tree who were alive in 1914, four of whom were grandmothers as well.

Only four of those 10 mothers were in my ancestral line, and only one of them was a grandmother. My great-great-grandmother, Emily (Outhouse) Lamb, would have been a 74-year-old widow. She had four children who survived to adulthood to give her 13 grandchildren. She likely would have celebrated Mother's Day with her only daughter, my great-grandmother, Nettie (Lamb) Baisley, who gave birth to 7 of those grandchildren and would have been pregnant with her eighth child at age 41.

My great-grandmother, Anna (Kolb) Passtoor, was a German immigrant and would have been a widow at 41-years old. It was probably a bittersweet holiday for her since only two of her four children survived childhood. It would have been the only Mother's Day she would have celebrated; Anna died seven months later.

My great-grandmother, Stanislawa (Makowska) Chrzanowski, a Polish immigrant, would have been 26 years old and six months pregnant with her third child on that first Mother's Day.

So, on this 100th anniversary of Mother's Day, I honor those women of my past for the sacrifices they made for their children.

 

 

_________________

History.com staff. "Mother's Day," online article, History.com, (http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mothers-day : 10 May 2014), First Mother's Day.

President Woodrow Wilson's Mother's Day Proclamation of May 9, 1914 (Presidential Proclamation 1268)., 9 May 1914; General Records of the United States Goverment, 1778-1992, Record Group 11; [Online version, www.archives.gov/historical-docs/todays-doc/?dod-date=509, National Archives and Records Administration, 10 May 2014.]

ArLynn Leiber Presser, "The Pre-forgotten Mother's Day," Arlynnpresser, 16 Apr 2012 (arlynnpresser.com/tag/mothers : accessed 10 May 2014).

Christopher Fox Graham, "May 11 Marks the 100th Anniversay of Mother's Day," Journalaz.com, 7 May 2014 (www.journalaz.co/Opinion/may-11-marks-the-100th-anniversary-of-mothers-day.html : accessed 10 May 2014).

 

 

Friday, May 9, 2014

A "Calculating" Post


How many times have you calculated a date of birth from a census record? If you’re like me, you’ve done it countless times. But have you ever considered how you do it and the importance of recording that in your research notes? A recent article in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly[1]
has shown me that my usual method is probably not “best practice.” Instead of simply subtracting the given age in a census from the census date and entering it into my database preceded by “calc,” I am now more likely to enter a date range and make a research note on how I calculated it.

The article describes four methods of date calculation and the reasoning behind them. I won’t go into the details of those methods here—you can read the article yourself—but it did get me thinking about dates and how they are calculated. Which method was used to calculate the dates?  Was the age simply subtracted from the year of the census? Or was the age subtracted from the official census date? Maybe it was subtracted from the enumeration date? If we clearly specify how we calculate our event dates, our research is deemed more credible and others can follow our reasoning process. We also advance our own research by narrowing or expanding the time frames in which we search for records.

After reading this article, I decided to try one of the methods to calculate a birth date from a death date and age at death in order to find a birth record. No surprise; but it helped me find a record I may have otherwise overlooked.

My grandfather’s little brother, Harry, died on 7 Sep 1901 when he was just 8 months old. It’s unlikely that he died at exactly 8 months; the number of days was probably just not recorded. Originally, I had counted back eight months and guessed he was born “abt Jan 1901.” The calculator feature in Legacy produced an exact date of 7 Jan 1901. Obviously, those unspecified number of days were not accounted for by either of the methods I chose.

A search for Harry’s birth record produced a possible record dated in December 1900, but not the January 1901 date I was looking for. What follows is the detailed method of date calculation I used in order to expand the time frame of the date of birth for Harry using a reference date (his date of death) and an interval (his age at death).

First I started with the reference date written from largest to smallest units using Arabic numerals—1901-9-7. The year is 1901; September is the ninth month; Harry died on the seventh day. This date will be used to start my calculations for both the bottom date range and the top date range.

            Bottom Range                         Top Range                   Steps
1.         1901-9-7                                  1901-9-7                      reference date

I then entered my interval of 8 months; but first I needed to put it into the proper format. Using the letter x as the unknown, Harry’s interval of 8 months became 0 years, 8 months, x days, or 0-8-x. That interval is entered into the “Top Range” column.

Bottom Range                         Top Range
1.         1901-9-7                                  1901-9-7                      reference date
2.                                                              0-8-x                       interval

Then, one (1) is added to the interval to the number that is the farthest right, and placed in the column labeled “Bottom Range.” Since the number in the farthest right is 8, add 1 to get 9. This is the adjusted interval for the bottom range.

Bottom Range                         Top Range
1.         1901-9-7                                  1901-9-7                      reference date
2.                                                              0-8-x                       interval
3.               0-9-x                                                                      adjusted interval

Sometimes there is a need to “borrow” in order to complete the math calculation. This happens when the interval number is equal or greater than the number of months (or days) in the reference date. Notice that this is the case in the bottom range column. So borrowing one year from 1901 gives me 1900; adding the borrowed year as 12 months to the number of the month (9 for September) gives me 21 months. This becomes the adjusted reference date for both columns.

Bottom Range                         Top Range
1a.       1901-9-7                                  1901-9-7                      reference date
1b.       1900-21-7                                1900-21-7                    adjusted reference date
2.                                                                 0-8-x                    interval
3.                 0-9-x                                                                    adjusted interval

Next, subtract the interval and the adjusted interval from the adjusted reference date. For the bottom range: 9 months from 21 months gives me 12 months; for the top range: 8 months from 21 months gives me 13 months.

Bottom Range                         Top Range
1a.       1901-9-7                                  1901-9-7                      reference date
1b.       1900-21-7                                1900-21-7                    adjusted reference date for bottom range
2.                                                                 0-8-x                    interval
3.                 0-9-x                                                                    adjusted interval
4.         1900-12-7                                1900-13-7                    subtract

Now, add 1 day to the bottom range so the 7 days becomes 8 days.

Bottom Range                         Top Range       
1a.       1901-9-7                                  1901-9-7                      reference date
1b.       1900-21-7                                1900-21-7                    adjusted reference date for bottom range
2.                                                              0-8-x                       interval
3.               0-9-x                                                                      adjusted interval
4.         1900-12-7                                1900-13-7                    subtract
5.         1900-12-8                                1900-13-7                    add 1 day to bottom range

Finally, write out the newly calculated dates. Normalize the date in the top range (we don’t have a 13th month), by giving back the 12 months to 1900, making it 1901-1-7.

Bottom Range                         Top Range       
1a.       1901-9-7                                  1901-9-7                      reference date
1b.       1900-21-7                                1900-21-7                    adjusted reference date for bottom range
2.                                                              0-8-x                       interval
3.               0-9-x                                                                      adjusted interval
4.         1900-12-7                                1900-13-7                    subtract
5.         1900-12-8                                1900-13-7                    add 1 day to bottom range
6.         8 Dec 1900                              7 Jan 1901                  write out dates and normalize

The newly calculated date range for Harry’s birth is now between 8 Dec 1900 and 7 Jan 1901. This has expanded on my estimated date of “abt Jan 1901” and Legacy’s calculated date of 7 Jan 1901. When I compare this date range to the birth index record search, the December 1900 birth date looks more promising. This method, with some slight adjustments, can also be used to calculate later event dates and ranges, such as using a tombstone inscription to calculate a death date from the date of birth and age of death in years, months and days.

Ms. Levergood suggests that we account for all possibilities by borrowing 31 days, calculating the results, and then subtract 3 days to create the bottom end of the date range. The 3 days account for the months with varying numbers of days, including leap year. One important point to remember is that these methods of calculation assume that all dates and intervals are based on the Gregorian calendar with the year beginning on January 1.

These methods of calculation will help me to more accurately search for records documenting the lives of my ancestors. Of course, I will remember to record the method used in my research notes. Who knows what new clues I may find?





[1] Barbara Levergood, “Calculating Dates and Using Dates and Date Ranges,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 102 (March 2014):51-75