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Sunday, February 07, 2016

FINALLY Get Organized! 7th-13th Feb 2016

This week's checklist invites us to analyze the sources of information in documents we've collected about the first four generations of our surname progenitors, meaning you, your father, your father's father, your father's grandfather.  Part of this analysis is intertwined in our citations (next week's topic.) We're going back over the documents we've transcribed (word for word) to analyze the information items contained therein.

Organized genealogists take the time to review what they've collected about each generation of ancestors to determine if direct sources of primary information have been overlooked.

Have we become internet-lazy? Have we become quick-click genealogists, all too eager to attach a document to an ancestors because there is:
  • a name match
  • a locality match
  • both have a wife named Elizabeth
  • looks like about the right time period
  • it's in a published genealogy book at our public library
  • an indexed entry listing the ancestor by name
  • the genealogy website suggests this is a match
Any one of these reason may have caused you to add a person or family all too hastily to your genealogy paper files and computer database. You may have encountered some challenges, but gave up and told yourself to "Just Do It!"

Genealogists jump to conclusions when they don't undertake reasonably exhaustive research.

 1. Print out and study the synopsis of the GPS Genealogical Proof Standard  published by the Board for Certification of Genealogists. You may not aspire to take clients or become certified, but we all want to ensure we're climbing the right family trees. Here's the link:

Element of the GPS
Contribution to Credibility
1. Reasonably exhaustive research

  • Assumes examination of a wide range of high quality sources
  • Minimizes the probability that undiscovered evidence will overturn a too-hasty conclusion

Sadly far too many family historians get to the sharing stage before truly organizing their findings. DearMYRTLE's FINALLY Get Organized! Checklists aim to remedy that situation by having participants deal with evidence, sources, citation, analysis, and correlation much earlier in the organized research process.

 2. Read the following blog posts, and view the embedded videos:

Elizabeth Shown Mills (ESM) is arguably the expert on citation samples, but a concise discussion to guide the development of our analysis skills is found in chapter 1 of her book:
 Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd edition (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015). [Book available from the publisher at and in digital format from the author's website]
From ESM we learn that no source provides definitive proof. Now look at your own kinship determinations to see where you can find direct sources of information, as opposed to major, principle or key sources.

Wouldn't you say the point of view or motivation of the source of the information either adds to or detracts from the credibility of the information that source provided about your ancestors?

  2. Make research notes on your to-do list where you now realize your evidence is weak.
Remember, we are just looking at those first four generations on your surname. The reasoning here is we are cutting the project down to size so we may concentrate on learning and applying correct principles. We are looking for things like:
  • Find marriage date and place, more reliable than "circa" or "of Clinton County, Missouri."
  • Did my ancestor truly have no siblings?
  • Developing the practice of checking back with genealogy websites for specific record groups before contacting the local courthouse or archive that may retain the record group in textual format.
Organized genealogists collect information on the brothers and sisters of their known ancestors, for that is often where brick wall break-throughs come into play.

Want to Hangout?
We will be discussing this week's checklist during our Mondays with Myrt hangout. Here's the link to register using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Now everyone can view and comment. With my new hangout interface, you only need a Google account if you want to appear as a filmstrip panelist.

Here's the link to the calendar of other upcoming DearMYRTLE genealogy hangouts:

Check out all previous DearMYRTLE's Finally Get Organized! Checklists.

Hangouts: Pay what you want. So it's simple. If you value the work Ol' Myrt, +Cousin Russ and our beloved panelists do week in and week out on your behalf, please:

Check the DearMYRTLE Hangouts Calendar for upcoming study groups and hangouts. There you'll find links to the GeneaConference (in-person) and the GeneaWebinars Calendar with over over 200 hours of online genealogy classes, webinars, live streams and tweetchats from other hosts and presenters over the next 12 months.