Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Don't shoot the messenger re: Barry Ewell

DearREADERS,
It is with an increasingly saddened heart that I open email and social media with additional specific cases of Barry Ewell's unethical behavior as a "writer" in the genealogical vertical. Today brings word of Ancestry Insider's More Accusations of Plagiarism Leveled at Barry Ewell. Among the 17 examples reviewed in side-by-side comparisons, is AI's report of the Deseret News' expressed decision not to publish any work from Barry Ewell. AI explains:
"Barry Ewell has also copied information from the web for newspaper articles. On 27 April 2013, the Salt Lake City Deseret News published a story written by Barry Ewell titled “Genealogy: Use and Record What You Learn.” The editor has appended this notice:
Editor's note: The original version of this story posted on April 27, 2013, failed to properly attribute all source materials, which violates our editorial policies. The story was revised on March 19, 2014, and attribution to original sources were added. A version of this column also appeared in the print edition of the Deseret News on August 8, 2013. The Deseret News demands accuracy in attribution and sourcing and considers any lapses to be a serious breach of ethics. The Deseret News is no longer publishing Barry J. Ewell's writings. (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865579049)"
I hope AI doesn't receive the unkind responses Ol' Myrt here has received claiming I've rushed to judgement. Since publishing Unethical behavior and Mr. Barry Ewell? my email and private FB messages include harsh criticisms of my "telling terrible lies about this wonderful man." I've been warned to "back off" and told I'm "ruining this poor man's right to earn a living." I've even been accused of harboring an "un-Christian" attitude toward this man and warned I "would not wish to have his blood on my hands." I am flummoxed by excuses for this man's behavior.

None of us is perfect.

Yet we are each responsible to do our level best to conduct ourselves in an ethical matter.

I will always be a stand for honesty.

I will always be a stand for ethical behavior.


As for my Christian values, let me quote the 13th Article of Faith:
"We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."  Source: Joseph Smith, The Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/a-of-f/1.13 : accessed 30 March 2016.) 
One detractor quoted this article to me, emphasizing the "doing good to all men" portion. I don't think it does Barry Ewell or the genealogy community any good to sweep this problem under the rug. The professional genealogy community has a responsibility to accurately report as has been done by Mr. MacEntee, Ancestry Insider and others.


I'd like to emphasize the last sentence "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."




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.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Was he there when his unit fought in the US Civil War?

DearREADERS,
Via DearMYRTLE's Facebook Page, Danine Cozzens says "Wow. It just hit me that I have all these Civil War and Rev War ancestors and have never cross-checked their units and which battles they were in. Yet another way in which history comes alive when you really do genealogy!"

+Cousin Russ  replied "In my genealogy database, I have the full battle listings for two of my Civil War ancestors. DearMYRTLE and I, with our spouses, went to Gettysburg to visit where both of our ancestors fought. (Yes, against each other.) In fact, they were in the same battle. The good news, one was at the top of the hill, the other at the bottom. The Monocacy battlefield was fought on a 7th Cousin's front yard (OK, cornfield.)"

This got Ol' Myrt to thinking...
  
Researchers should indeed create a timeline of a Union Civil War ancestor's unit and battles where the unit served, BUT ALSO compare this with:

  • a timeline of your ancestor's dates for enlistment and mustering out of service.
  • service records
  • carded medical records, in textual format at the National Archives in Washington, DC. 
  • the unit's morning report, typically in textual format at the state level, describing:
    • who reported for duty
    • who was sick
    • who was on arrest or confinement
    • who was on detached service
    • who was absent with leave
    • who was absent without leave
The goal? To see if your soldier reported for duty on the day of battle. 

NOTE: Ol' Myrt here obviously has no experience with research in Confederate records.


CARDED MEDICAL RECORDS
See DearMYRTLE's "Military: Carded Medical Records and Original Hospital Registers" describing with photos and text, my experiences when ordering these original files and books at NARA1. I found this most enlightening as my ancestor William H. Phillips, of the 19th Indiana, was sometimes away for medical treatment of syphilis. This same soldier served valiantly on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, receiving an injury to his left thigh at the railroad cut. As cousin Russ stated, our ancestors were both at Culp's Hill. My ancestor's 19th Indiana was on the northern-most edge of the elongated hill formation nursing their wounds, having lost their commander. My ancestor had lost 80% of his company due to death or injury, and so was not truly fit for battle with Cousin Russ' Maryland Confederate unit on the south side of the hill. My ancestor was subsequently sent to Douglas Hospital in Washington, DC.

Why was there such a wide variety of hospital register books? 

There were a variety of hospitals each creating it's own record mentioning your ancestor. Union Civil War soldiers can thank Dr. Jonathan Letterman for inventing a triage system(1) for treating wounded soldiers in local dressing stations, somewhat distant field hospitals and larger, more permanent general hospitals. This happened "after it took over a week to remove the wounded from the battlefield at Second Manassas, Letterman was given free range by General George McClellan to do whatever was needed to revamp the poor medical services that the men received in the field." (2) 

The Library of Congress has digitized this image titled "Ambulance Drill at Headquarters Army of the Potomac, near Brandy Station, Va., March 1864." (3)


IMAGE: (cropped) Courtesy of the Library of Congress.


This sort of ambulance would have brought wounded soldiers to the nearest railway line for transport to a more permanent general hospital for long-term recovery. 


IMAGE: Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
 LC-DIG-stereo-1s02812 (digital file from original stereograph, front) Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA (http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print : accessed 29 Mar 2017.)
MORNING REPORTS
Mr. Myrt and I have viewed these in person at the state level for his ancestor serving in the 31st Iowa Infantry during the US Civil War. 

Fold3.com has this digital copy of "Morning Reports of Captain J. W. Price, Company A, Army of the United States," Massachusetts 54th Infantry Regimental Records, Vol 7 and 8, p 49. (https://www.fold3.com/image/296946261 : accessed 29 March 2016.)  

IMAGE: Courtesy of Fold3.com


Although the table above is a statistical summary, subsequent pages include valuable information for unit historians and genealogists. From the page titled  "Remarks for the month of August, 1864"(4) we discover on line 5:

"Final Settlements forwarded [illegible]   
George M. Pell Died of Disease at the regimental Hospital Norm's Island, SC"


IMAGE: Courtesy of Fold3.com.


ONE MORE THOUGHT
It's no longer sufficient to merely search an ancestor's US Civil War Pension File or his Widow's Pension File to see what the soldier, his comrades and his commanding officer may have stated about your ancestor's service. Where medical records and morning reports have survived, we may gain additional insight into our ancestor's war experience.


Sources:
(1) "The Letterman Plan", National Museum of Civil War Medicine. (http://www.civilwarmed.org/letterman-award/the-letterman-plan/ : accessed 29 Mar 2016.)

(2) "Jonathan Letterman", Civil War Trust. (http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/jonathan-letterman.html : accessed 29 Mar 2016.)

(3) Ambulance drill at Headquarters Army of Potomac, near Brandy Station, Va., March, 1864. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C  (http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3g07974 : accessed 29 March 2016.)


(4) Company A Morning Report, Massachusetts 54th Infantry Regimental Records, Vol 7 and 8, p 53. (https://www.fold3.com/image/296946261 : accessed 29 March 2016.) 

Happy family tree climbing!
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.


Homework Review: ESM's QuickLesson #3

DearREADERS,
Wednesday morning will find us working through the homework provided in advance by study group panelists together with a few additional submissions from the community at large. If you'd like to register for this session of ESM's QuickLessons Study Group, you'll find info here: http://hangouts.DearMYRTLE.com. Comments may be posted before, during and after the live broadcast.

Use your personal link in the confirmation or reminder emails to view AND comment. We begin the live broadcast as follows:

Wednesday, 30 Mar 2016Noon Eastern US (New York)
11am Central US (Chicago)
10am Mountain US (Denver, Salt Lake City)
9am Pacific US (Los Angeles)
UTC-7 hours
If you need a time zone converter, this is the one Ol' Myrt uses:
http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html
 
Syllabus:
QuickLesson 3: Flawed Records Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 3: Flawed Records,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage (https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-3-flawed-records : accessed 24 Mar 2016).

There is no registration fee for this DearMYRTLE Study Group. However, if attendees find these educational discussions useful, consider the pay what you want business model DearMYRTLE employs.

The goal is to study the QuickLesson,
then figure out how it applies in your personal research.
  • How does your research "thinking" compare to the ideals posed by ESM?
  • What part of this QuickLesson inspired you to take a different course of action?
  • Has there been a research breakthrough after studying this QuickLesson?
Study group filmstrip panel participants are advised read this lesson and submit links to their homework in advance of our meeting, publishing each week's homework either in their blogs or as a public Google Doc, described in the video Creating Google Docs: For DearMYRTLE Study Group Homework. The research scenarios described in our homework illustrate participant understanding of the principles Elizabeth describes in her QuickLesson. 
Motivated hangout viewers may also submit homework, though there may not be enough time to review such additional homework during the live discussion. Ol' Myrt here reads every submission, and appreciates your efforts. The very act of submitting homework enhances the author's ability to assimilate the sound research methodologies suggested by the ESM.

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.


Monday, March 28, 2016

WHY we shouldn't trust our genealogy to a single location

DearREADERS,
Genealogists cannot plan to safely keep their compiled genealogy in one place, say in genealogy website or in your blog, or even a single back-up service, because websites can mess up and lose your data more easily than you think.Today's email from the RootsWeb team at Ancestry sadly illustrates this point.

Ol' Myrt here is frankly surprised RootsWeb's parent company, Ancestry.com, didn't have a redundancy system in place to ensure a swift recovery when one component of their datacenter fails. That's WHEN not IF hardware fails. Providing for that eventuality is standard operating procedure if the datacenter values it's content. Maybe RootsWeb content isn't valued by Ancestry.com?



As you may know, the RootsWeb site was recently unavailable as the result of a hardware failure in our datacenter. Our development and web operations teams worked diligently and carefully to address the issues, and as a result, the site is now available again.

Regretfully, despite their best efforts, our teams were not able to retrieve all of the data associated with the site. Specifically, we were unable to retrieve content from FreePages added after the summer of 2015. We understand these pages are important to you and are very sorry that we are not able to recover the data that was lost as a result of the hardware failure. Going forward, we are adding additional technical resources to support the site and ensure such an issue does not occur again.

If you have a backup of your own please upload it to the site so that you have the most current version of your pages.

If you have any concerns, please contact our Member Services through our support form.
The RootsWeb Team


Unfortunately, the link provided within the email to the RootsWeb "support form" was to this survey form at Fold3.com, another of Ancestry's purchases. Ooops!
http://survey.fold3.com/Default.aspx?link=BKtULDMYkIApg3m0W5FD2A%3d%3d&linkid=2131
This site simply would not open.

So I searched the RootsWeb section of Ancestry.com to find the following workable link:
RootsWeb "Submit a Question to Our Support Team"
http://rootsweb.custhelp.com/app/ask

SO WHAT'S A GENEALOGISTS TO DO?
  1. Develop your own database using mainstream genealogy software.
  2. Place the data folder(s) (text, images, notes, citations, etc.) in a cloud service like DropBox where you install a small program on your computer, then place items in the C:\Dropbox\... folder and permit this to be synced to Dropbox website.
  3. Routinely back up your computer to the cloud using a service like BackBlaze. Both BlackBlaze and Dropbox provide off-site copies of your data should something happen to compromise your computer.
  4. Look to Thomas MacEntee's post "Ancestry.com RootsWeb Data Loss" in the GeneaBloggers Blog for additional thoughts about future-proofing your genealogy data. He includes specific advice if your data is among the lost pages at RootsWeb.
Do whatever is necessary to make sure your compiled genealogy won't be lost by a single website, nor will it be lost if your own computer decides to give up the ghost.


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.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

REGISTER: DearMYRTLE's Hangouts this coming week



DearREADERS,
DearMYRTLE Hangouts are updated here each Sunday. For future DearMYRTLE hangouts, be sure check Myrt's Calender here. This is DearMYRTLE's favorite time zone converter: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html

NOTE: We're using the new Business Hangouts interface for Mondays with Myrt, ESM'S QuickLessons Study Group and Wacky Wednesday. The four classes at the Fairfax Genealogical Society will be held in the traditional Google+ Hangouts format.

Mondays with Myrt - 28 Mar 2016 at Noon Eastern (US New York)
Powerful #genealogy breakthroughs happen during our video hangouts. Let's talk about what's trending in the world of genealogy. Be sure to arrive early to get a seat,
and do post comments and queries.


ESM's QuickLesson 3 Flawed Records, Wednesday, 30 Mar 2016
at Noon Eastern (US New York)

A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group
Discussing the Works of Elizabeth Shown Mills

HOMEWORK:
Due by Noon on Monday before this session. Study the following QuickLesson, then post a blog by or public Google Doc with specific example(s) about how this concept applies in your personal genealogical research. Include your name and the QuickLesson citation (shown below) at the top of your homework. Then share your homework link in the "unified chat" for this specific study group session. This way Ol' Myrt and other participants can review your homework in the two days before this session.

SYLLABUS:
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 3: Flawed Records,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage (https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-3-flawed-records : accessed 1 Aug 2015).

Consider copyright issues as detailed in this short-subject video with The Legal Genealogist, Judy G. Russell, CG. found here: https://youtu.be/uFpET_NWFeU



WACKY Wednesday 30 Mar 2016 at 9pm Eastern (US New York)
Find out which of DearMYRTLE's *very* distant cousins hosts this hangout.
This is our chance to find out more about a topic discussed
during Mondays with Myrt.


Fairfax Genealogical Society's Annual Spring Conference
Track 4 - Researching in the 21st Century
with DearMYRTLE and Cousin Russ
Friday, 1 April 2016
NOTE: In true 21st century style, Cousin Russ will appear in person while DearMYRTLE will  appear virtually as we present a track of four classes at the Fairfax Genealogical Society's annual spring conference. We will be using Google+ Hangouts On Air for these presentations. Times listed below are in the US Eastern - New York time zone.

Sure, it's April Fools Day, but we've got some great ideas to blast through your genealogical brick walls and update your "current thinking."

Virtual attendees may click on the above referenced class titles, to view the video on YouTube. Alternately, Members of DearMYRTLE's Genealogy Community may view AND comment here:  http://bit.ly/DearMYRTLEonGooglePlus

In-person attendees may find out more by reading DearMYRTLE's Fairfax Genealogical Society: Annual Spring Conference. It's a matter of getting to the Westin Tysons Corner, 7801 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, Virginia.

Discover info about the other 13 tracks and possibilities for overnight accommodations here.


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.