Wednesday, 30 September 2015

WikiTree: Club 1000, Projects, and Challenges

On WikiTree, you can earn virtual badges for the number of contributions you make to the tree.  Up until now, I have only earned 'Club 100' badges - which means I have made (at least) 100 contributions in any given month (such as entering dates, sources, names and so on).  But this month (September 201 5) I have achieved the dizzy heights of 'Club 1000', meaning I have entered 1000 of those things.  (This also means I have neglected my studying, my housework, my reading...)

I also discovered the Sourcerer's Challenge, where you wander through various profiles which have been marked (categorised) as Unsourced, and either source them, or note that you couldn't.  And an Unsourced Profile is just like it sounds - it may have data, but no sources.  I managed to provide suitable sources for 65 individuals this month.  So satisfying! It feels like I have a chance to give back, and the authority to say I am allowed to nosey around.

Then I thought:  why stop at sources? and I discovered the Profile Improvement Project, which actually goes around tidying things up generally, rather than limiting yourself to sources.  And yet my own flat still looks like the Council tip.  Sigh.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

WikiTree: One Place and One Name Studies

Diving back into WikiTree again this month.  If I am going to have an online tree, then I definitely prefer this one, because of the Honor Code (even though they can't spell LOL), the levels of privacy, the emphasis on providing sources - and, of course, it's FREE (my favourite price).

Over a year ago in July 2014 I set up the MURCH One-Name Study (to be my WikiTree version of  At the moment, a lot of them are my own ancestors (!), but I am slowly creating profiles for all the MURCHes on as well.  Now I'm thinking of doing the same thing for the BLAGDON surname.

Exactly a year ago I set up the South Pool One-Place Study to link up all the profiles where the ancestors have something to do with South Pool, Devon, England. 

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

GDO 4: Getting Ready AGAIN for the Do-over

No - didn't manage Cycle 3 of the Do-Over.  Sigh. Looks like it will have to be Cycle 4 instead (begins on 2 October 2015).  Thomas has said that in 2016 he will be doing another Cycle, but this time the topics will be monthly, rather than weekly, and there would be a workbook.

But I had such success with Cycle 1, that I'm going to try to get in just one more weekly Cycle before monthly next year.

In the meantime: I have registered for another Open University course (they call them modules now) on
Children's Literature, so I am busy reading the set books.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 18 June 2015

GDO3: Getting Ready (Again) for the Genealogy Do-Over

I'm getting ready for Cycle 3 of Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over.  I participated in Cycle 1 back in January 2015, and as I look back at that cycle's 'getting ready' post I realise how far I have come (although I'm not saying I'm there just yet).  I learned a lot - and I mean a LOT.  I took 'slow down' as my mantra - and I have slowed down.  However, lately I have noticed myself speeding up a bit and wandering in circles, so I think it's about time to start another Do-Over.  Oh *steps back in amazement* a new cycle starts on July 3rd!  How fortuitous! What a coincidence!

Last time, I began by saying things like "I'm not in a mess.  I'm not in a mess."  And I'm not.  Well, at least, not a total mess.  Order is beginning to come out of the chaos.

"Slow Down" was to be my mantra.  It worked; I slowed down.  But I began to speed up again.  Note to self: must slow down again.

I put all my certificates away in acid-free pockets.  That is an achievement in itself.

Done the software research.  Made the digital folders.  Coloured them so I can see which line is which.

But the biggest thing I got out of Cycle 1 was the Research Log and how to use it.  You see, I always looked at a Research Log as something you did afterwards.  Writing down what you'd done, how far you'd got - and most genealogists will tell you that, once they're exhausted from researching, THAT'S IT.  You have no energy to write it all down.  But Thomas's Research Log was different.  Yes, there was still space to write it down, but the important part was planning your research beforehand, and writing it down beforehand.  That way, you don't end up sitting in front of your computer, wondering what to do now.  You have a written-out plan, so you can dive in and say "right, I'm going to look for this bit first" instead of wandering here and there through your family tree, which is beginning to feel like a magical grove where you can't see the sunlight.
Can't see the forest for the trees

And another key part of the Research Log?  It was made in a spreadsheet workbook, so you could have a special page devoted entirely to "ooh, look at that" type ideas.  We called them BSOs (Bright Shiny Objects).  Instead of stopping what you are doing and going off on a tangent (and then suddenly realising it's 3 a.m. and you have to get up at 6.30 for work) - you go to this special page and write it down.  Then you can come back to it later, when the BSO becomes a serious focus of research as opposed to an "ooh, look at that".

In Cycle 1, I felt like I was hanging on by my fingernails.  Now, In Cycle 3, I'm sitting on the bottom step (not the 'naughty step', you notice).  There are plenty more steps, and I will take them.  Slowly.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, 14 June 2015

On This Day: 14 June

On 14 June 1696, my 8 x great grandmother, Joanna STONE was christened in the small village of South Pool, Devon, England.  Her father was called Edward, and her mother Jone.

And this is where things get confusing.  I mean, I know about spelling in centuries gone past: whoever was doing the recording wrote the names down the way he thought they should be spelt, and most of our ancestors were illiterate, so they wouldn't have known the difference.  Then again, spelling and writing weren't as important to them as they are to (present-day) genealogists like you and me.

Blue question marksSo, baby Joanna (spelt 'Joanna' in the baptismal register) was 'Joan' by the time she married in 1722, and 'Joan' when she was buried in 1763.  Her mother was 'Jone'.  My 2 x great grandmother MURCH was 'Johanna' at her baptism in 1844, 'Joanna' at her marriage in 1869, and back to 'Johanna' on her death certificate in 1875.  And then back to the mid-1600s, when my 8 x great aunt is 'Johane' BLAGDON.  No wonder I can't find her baptism.  The search engine has finally given up hope at all these spellings!

My question is: how are all these pronounced?  'Jone' I can manage.  But the first clue I had that 'Johanna' didn't have a spoken 'H' in the middle was when she was married as 'Joanna'.  The search engine isn't the only one around here that's confused...

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 13 June 2015

On This Day: 13 June

13 June 1813: my great great great great great uncle was born.  Samuel MURCH, born to another Samuel MURCH and Margaret Marshall Littley MURCH in Ottery St Mary, Devon.  He was baptised on Boxing Day of that year: 26 December 1775, also in Ottery St Mary.
Samuel Murch birth/baptism entry 1775
And here he is again in the Bishop's Transcripts, a little more neatly written
Samuel Murch birth/baptism entry 1775

Seems fairly straightforward, don't you think?  Except someone sixty years ago said that he also died and was buried on that same Boxing Day - and I can't find a record to back this up.

Samuel Murch birth/baptism entry 1778
Then came my direct-line ancestor - yet another Samuel MURCH, born to the same parents 11 April 1778 (Ottery St Mary) and baptised 1 January 1778/79.  Since he was also called Samuel, it is pretty logical to think that the Samuel born in 1775 had died.  But had he?  Definitely a genealogical mystery to solve.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Friday, 29 May 2015

Keep Calm, I'm Five

Yes, I'm five today.  At least, this blog is.  The past year (2014-2015) has been what Her Majesty the Queen calls an 'annus horribilis', mainly due (in my case) to major health problems which have impacted every aspect of my life.  But you know what?  I'm still here!

When the blog was three years old, I looked back on my very first post to see what I had achieved.  I'm not going to do that this time. I'm just going to be grateful that I'm still here, five years on.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: X is for Xtopher

This is something I came across while researching.  So many of my male ancestors had names beginning with the letter 'X' was untrue!  And yes, it was untrue, to a certain Xtent.

You see, the further back you go - when they start writing in Latin that sometimes even a university professor would struggle with - they use abbreviations.  A lot.  Ever notice that little line above a name? That means the name was abbreviated. A small letter after the first syllable? Abbreviation. So you may not have had an ancestor called Eliz.  She may not even have been called Eliza.  It's just that she was abbreviated.  And as for seems that, wherever the syllable 'Chris' or 'Christ' occurred - there was the 'X'.

A-Z Challenge 2015: X

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Monday, 27 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: W is for WikiTree

I hardly know where to start with this one.  Oh, yes - wait.  I do know.  WikiTree!
There are plenty of sites around which suggest you build your tree online (and they are either free or paid-for).  Over the years, I have dutifully been putting my tree up on various sites with no effect other than
to add a little MORE pressure to my already-full day.  And then along came WikiTree.  Sounded good, it was free, lots of privacy, even an honour code.  So I put my tree up there, person by person (I'll discuss why not a huge GEDCOM in a moment).  I even put a photo of my grandmother up there which I had taken when I was about 10.

Then I got an email, asking me about my identity (and quoting several names and places so I would know it wasn't a scammer).  It was a cousin I'd never met!  I had been searching for him and his side of the family for over 30 years.  He rang his sister, and said "We've found her! We've found her!" and it turned out that they had been searching for me for ages, too.  And we found each other because of WikiTree.

Oh, yes.  Why not a huge GEDCOM.  OK, it probably is a good idea if you have an enormous tree of 35,000 people, but when you only have a few hundred (so far) I think it is better to type them in, person by person, even if it takes days rather than minutes.  (Of course, it does help if you can type really quickly.)  That's the way, in my opinion, that you really get to KNOW your ancestors.  When you have typed 'Ebenezer Haywood' a few times, you will never forget him!  Or 'Otho Popham', or 'Loveday Anna French', 'Rabage Beere', or 'Beaton Downe' (Yes, really!).  (These are all actual names from my own tree.)  You may not remember every single date (although frequent retyping definitely helps), but you begin to remember the names, and which family they belong to.  And family is what it's all about, isn't it?

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 25 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: V is for Victoria(n)

Well, this is some sort of victory for me, after being so unwell.  Did you know that the origin of the word 'victory' is Latin - victoria?   And that segues nicely into my 'V' post - here she is:

In case you have no idea who she is - this is Queen Victoria (monarch between 1837-1901).  So many things happened or were discovered or made during her reign!  Here is a genealogical list (you may be familiar with some of the items):

1837 (Victoria ascends the throne) Civil registration introduced (birth, marriage, death certificates) 
1840 New Zealand becomes a British colony
1841 First census of any use to genealogists, containing names, ages (rounded up or down), occupations, and a simple "born in same county? Yes/No"
1848 Cholera epidemic (2,000 a week dead)
1851 Great Exhibition
1851 Census: this one includes actual town or village of birth, and ages were not rounded up or down
1854 Crimean War
1861 Census
1867 British North America becomes Dominion of Canada
1870 Basic education becomes free for children under 10
1871 Census
1881 Census (did you ever use those CDs published by the LDS? I did some of the indexing!)
1891 Census
1901 Census
and of course, many other items such as invention of the telephone, the light bulb, the Great Famine, steam engines, the Industrial Revolution - the list goes on and on

After she died:
1911 Census (this is the first one where you can see the householder's handwriting instead of the enumerator's (sometimes guesswork) - I never knew how much impact it would make on me until I saw my great-grandfather's handwriting and realised it was exactly the same as my father's)
Suffragettes would often write "No Vote No Census" instead of completing it.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, 12 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: J is for Just A Minute

Not well right now, so normal Challenge broadcasts will be resumed as soon as possible.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Friday, 10 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: I is for Infant Mortality

A-Z Challenge 2015: Infant mortality
Infant mortality - a subject which genealogists come across with frightening regularity the further back you trace your family tree, where children died before the age of one.

Figures such as 350 babies out of a 1000 as late as 1842.

There are, of course, many reasons for this:
  • No plumbing (or only basic plumbing)
  • Feeding with unsuitable foods (I have an ancestor's little brother who wasted away from being fed milk from a cow with TB)
  • Lack of trained care
  • Busy mothers having to leave their baby unattended
  • Violent shaking of a baby to stop it crying
  • Infectious disease
  • Difficult births
  • Congenital defects
  • Babies being overlain in bed
  • Infanticide to conceal pregnancy
  • and doubtless many other reasons
But, among my research, I found another interesting theory.  Some believe that the tenderness that mothers feel towards their babies is only 250 years old.  In fact, far back on the family tree, you can see wealthier parents putting their newborns out to nurse for up to two years, sickly babies being baptised as "Creature", and children being given the name of a child who died earlier (very common in my West Country families).  Children being buried just as "a young child of John Doe" - no name, nothing. 

So mothers just didn't care if their child died?  I find that a little difficult to believe.

What do you think?

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 9 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: H is for Ha-Ha

I bet you thought I was joking, didn't you? (see what I did there: 'ha-ha'?)
Well, there actually is such a thing as a ha-ha - and it's a landscape feature.  The closest I could get to a link to genealogy was that it would have been popular among your ancestors, if they were wealthy enough.

Imagine you have a beautiful view, and a herd of cows walks straight across it and obliterates it entirely.  Well, in order to stop this sort of thing from happening, our ancestors would build a 'ha-ha', which was a sunken ditch, supported by a wall (that didn't come up so high you knew it was there).  This kept the cows out.  (Actually, my ancestors were more likely to be the peasants driving the cows...)

Nobody knows who thought of the name.

Ha Ha Wall
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: G is for Genealogy Do-Over

You can imagine, with a theme like Genealogy Trivia, that I have been waiting for the letter G for...oh, since the letter A...
And it seems that the genealogy community had been waiting for a Genealogy Do-Over, which was proposed by Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers.  Each cycle lasts 13 weeks (a quarter of a year) and you can do as many cycles as you want.  The Facebook group has over six THOUSAND members.
But what is it?  Well, the Genealogy Do-Over is  (as Thomas describes it) a "2015 educational initiative at GeneaBloggers - where you do get to go home again . . . and start over with your genealogy research."  You started by setting aside all the research you had done over the years (and braver souls than I really set it aside - like, in boxes and computer folders) and started from scratch.  Going slower, citing sources, really analyzing documents, whereas before, you grasped the one piece of info you were after, scanned the document, and put it away, never to be looked at again.

And the results? Nothing short of amazing.  Using a Research Log, writing down everything you had done so you didn't do it again twenty times because you forgot you had already done it, planning - really thinking, creating a Research Toolbox...  I added five generations to one line, went back 200 years, discovered dates and places I had missed the first time round (because I was going too fast), and - most importantly - rekindled the fascination I had for genealogy which I thought had died from boredom.
Click on the button to discover the topics for your own Genealogy Do-Over!

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: F is for Factory Act

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.comThe working conditions (pay and hours) of early industries were appalling.  Almost everybody has heard of the horror stories of small children being required to work 12+ hours a day in dangerous cotton mills, often without breaks, open to fevers, sometimes losing fingers, sometimes their lives (if they were not quick enough around the machinery).  And it wasn't just the cotton mills.  Little boys apprenticed to chimney sweeps were stuffed up chimneys (because they were small enough) or several families have tales of ancestors as young as six having to work in a coal mine.

So you would think that any legislation to make these conditions better would be a good thing.  Except it was profitable to have children working...But in 1833 there arose a Factory Inspectorate - and now it became more expensive to flout the Acts - because you could be fined. The 1842 Mines Act prohibited 'females and children under ten years of age' from working underground.  By 1844, these new laws extended to the better treatment of female workers in other industries, as well.

By 1878, the rules stated:
  • No child anywhere under the age of 10 was to be employed.
  • Compulsory education for children up to 10 years old.
  • 10-14 year olds could only be employed for half days.
  • Women were to work no more than 56 hours per week.
A-Z Challenge: F

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Monday, 6 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: E is for Easter Book

Try searching for this on the internet, and you will be swamped with links to children's tales, pictures of the Easter bunny, how to make a tie-dyed boiled egg - almost everything except a definition of an Easter Book.
An Easter Book, in genealogical/historical terms, was a list of all the householders in a parish - especially those liable for tithes! (one-tenth of your income)  These would be paid to the local priest at - you've guessed it! - Easter.  

As you can imagine, such a list would be very useful to a genealogist, giving names from the mid-sixteenth century to the beginning of the nineteenth.  You could also work out a) how well-off (or not) the parishioners were, and b) how well-off (or not) the parish itself was.

Great Coxwell Tithe Barn
Great Coxwell Tithe Barn
courtesy ballista

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 4 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: D is for Dissolution of the Monasteries
The phrase 'Dissolution of the Monasteries' often conjures up images of violence, ransacking, and looting.  Yes, that did happen - but after the administrative side of the dissolution.  Just as the CEO of a chain store nowadays would prune his stores to remove the ones which were just not paying well, so King Henry VIII got rid of the monasteries which did not have enough monks, had a low income, and were generally becoming inefficient (and there were rumours of some sinful conduct, too).  This was in 1536.  Monks and nuns were pensioned off, and these monasteries were dissolved.
All very quiet and administrative.

Then, in 1538, Bury St Edmunds was looted, and in 1539-40 Cromwell sent his soldiers to back up the King's orders, because the wealthier monasteries were going a little less quietly (but there was still not much resistance).
St Joseph's Chapel, Glastonbury Abbey
courtesy Dzlinker

It was after the administrative side had taken place that the looting began.  David Hey's "The Oxford Companion to Local and Family History" states: "Lead roofs were stripped and building stone was carted away. Livestock and crops were confiscated and granges converted to farms."  Goods and chattels were supposed to be auctioned off.  Lands were transferred, plunder was sold, gentry increased their holdings.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Friday, 3 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: C is for Corpse Way

Yes, you read it right; C is for Corpse Way - and we are talking dead bodies here.  Churchyards were attached to churches, and the deceased might have died some way away from it (but still within the parish),
A-Z Challenge: 'C'
so the coffin would have to be transported several miles, in some instances.

So 'corpse ways' started (also known as 'corpse roads', 'bier roads', 'burial roads', 'coffin roads'), and became traditional, mixed with superstition. The people who moved the body were afraid that if they went any other way, the ghost of the deceased would come back to haunt them.

Coffin Stone
Coffin stone at Grasmere; courtesy
Unless the deceased had been wealthy, the body in its coffin would have to be carried.  Large stones ('coffin stones') were placed along the route:
a) so that the coffin bearers could have a rest! and
b) so that the coffin would not touch the ground and ruin it for any future crops.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 2 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: B is for Badging

Have you ever seen the film 'The Scarlet Letter'?  It was adapted from the book by Nathaniel Hawthorne (written in 1850) and is about a woman who has an affair, gets pregnant, and refuses to name the father.  As
Demi Moore in 'The Scarlet Letter'
Demi Moore in 'The Scarlet Letter' (1995)
part of her punishment, she is obliged to wear a badge with a scarlet letter 'A' sewn onto every dress she has. (A for Adulteress.) Now, you may have thought this was just a romantic flight of fancy - no more than fiction.  But there was a grain of truth in it.

From 1697, individuals who were receiving poor relief from the parish had to wear a 'P' badge to show they were a pauper.

'Bawdy badges' were more like a brooch - but usually rather explicit in nature; the idea being that the Devil would be so fascinated by the bawdy badge, that the 'evil eye' would forget to look at the wearer...

If you were a pilgrim, it became quite fashionable to wear a badge to show where you had been (and it was even thought that some badges had miraculous powers). states that "the most popular shrines were able to sell in excess of 100,000 badges a year, making pilgrim badges the first truly mass produced tourist souvenir."

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: A is for Archery, archery is practised only by a few, and even then, it is considered to be a sport.  Very few people nowadays would consider a bow and arrow to be their primary weapon-of-choice.

But did you know that archery practice used to be law? or at least statutory.  (The law was revived in 1543 in case the French invaded.)  You had to practice after church on Sundays.  Not sure how I would reconcile that with 'thou shalt not kill'... Every man between the ages of 16 and 60 had to own his own bow, and it had to be as tall as he was.
Archery practice

A note here: so that men were not distracted from archery practice, certain sports were declared 'unlawful'.  The main one being football.  Honest.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: Poised and Ready

Here we go, folks.  On your marks...get set...GO TOMORROW! is the kind of day I love: The Day Before.  Christmas Eve. The day before your birthday.  New Year's Eve.  In the A-Z Challenge's case, a whole month lies ahead of you.  You haven't missed a day; you haven't made a mistake as to which letter it should be on which day; you haven't made any typos.  You're at the top of your game.

Do you remember when you were a child and it had just snowed, and there was a lane, or a path, or a field which was totally white and smooth and undisturbed - no footprints in it (yet).  Can you remember how you felt?  How excited you were to be the first one to step onto that pristine crust, which looked like the icing on a Christmas cake.

Ah - March 31st.  The best day of the Challenge, I reckon.  Much better than May 1st, when it is all over for another year and you feel somewhat..bereft.  But March 31st? Oh, the possibilities which lie ahead!

So: plan your posts.  Warm up your typing fingers and flex those writing muscles.  Those footprints won't make themselves, you know!

Tomorrow awaits.  The A-Z Challenge beckons.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Monday, 30 March 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 13: Review and Reflect

wonderingThis is the final week of the first 'Genealogy Do-Over'.  It actually finishes on Thursday 2 April 2015, and starts again the very next day with 'Week 1'.  I thought I might not do the next cycle of 13 weeks, but on reflection, I just might.  The reason is that I learned so many new things during this cycle, that I need (at least) another cycle to revisit them and shore up my learning.

Although the topics looked enticing, I soon realised that to try and apply them to my entire family tree would very quickly drive me crazy, so I looked at it and decided to apply the Do-Over to my BLAGDON line, as that was the one that had the least work done on it.  (BLAGDON was the maiden name of my paternal grandmother: Elsie Beatrice BLAGDON, 22 July 1908-2 Feb 1975.)  The research I had done on that particular line had taken me back to 1800 - and there I had stopped.  Too many mysteries along the way, too many people with the same name - and I was making such great strides with my other ancestors on other lines, that these others became BSOs (bright shiny objects - the sort you drop everything for and go off chasing here, there, and everywhere).  So I buckled down to it, and plunged into the BLAGDON line.

Immediately I began noticing success.  
  • I wrote out a Research Plan 
  • and a Research Log (If you're reading about this for the first time, I strongly recommend you take a look at the Do-Over, and its companion group on Facebook)
  • I revamped and rebuilt my Research Toolbox
  • I investigated genealogy education (on- and offline)
  • I made checklists and applied them to each person
And, most important of all?


Truly, I didn't realise I was moving so fast.  Now, I'm not saying that 'fast' is all bad.   In certain cases, you want 'fast' (like if you are having a heart attack, you want the ambulance to get to the hospital fast).   But I was going so 'fast', I was skipping over and entirely missing important information.  And I wasn't writing it all down, which meant that I was doing the same search twenty times over (and doing it fast) because I wasn't sure if I had already done it.

Who knew?  I'm 55; a grown woman with many years of experience behind me.  I teach people how to make a start on their own genealogy!  I advise strongly against the 'scattergun approach' or dipping here and there - fast.  Why has it taken me 35+ years of research to realise that I needed to Slow Down and Write It Down?  I think I know why.  It's because I want patience...and I want it NOW!

and the BLAGDONs?  More mysteries, more people with the same name - and a new dilemma: a potential link to a wealthy family going back to the early 1600s - but are they 'mine'?  The ancestors I had found previously were humble dockyard workers, brickmakers and farm labourers.  Am I right in thinking I am linked to gentlemen landowners?  But this hasn't put me off.  Now, I feel more confident in my researching methodology.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Monday, 23 March 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: Theme Reveal

This will be my fourth year participating in the A-Z Challenge.  I just love it!  Since this is a genealogy blog, I have always taken my posts from items with a family history connection.  Last year (2014) I did a series of "Back to Basics" posts about starting your genealogy, but the ones which have caught the interest of most people have been about genealogy trivia. 

You know the sort of thing: words and phrases such as "Englishry" (get-out-of-jail-free card if you could prove the murder victim was English rather than Norman), "Farthing" (do you remember those coins with the wren on them?), "King's Evil" (disease curable by the touch of the reigning monarch) and other favourites.

So this year I am going to introduce a new series of

Genealogy Trivia !

Right then, better get planning, and researching, and - oh yes, writing blog posts...almost forgot...

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 24 January 2015

I actively dislike Evernote

"Elephant Crossing" sign

I hate actively dislike Evernote.  There, I've said it.

I started off several years ago with stacks and notebooks and a few tags.  And I didn't dislike Evernote, but I could take it or leave it.  Couldn't get up the energy to hate it.

Then I caught onto the idea of having 100,000 tags instead of 250 notebooks, and went the whole hog and tagged everything in sight, deleting notebooks once they were empty.  And now I loathe Evernote (and I'm not that keen on OneNote, either, before you start).  But others are raving about it, especially genealogists.  I am a real clutterbug at home; I keep EVERYTHING, including old bus tickets, out-of-date magazines, the lot.  So why would I hate something which saves everything you want it to and makes snipping from the web...well...a snip?

Maybe it's because it's so organised.  At home, those old bus tickets can float around and land wherever they want.  Evernote tags 'em, files 'em, makes 'em searchable, and BAM! there's no such thing as clutter any more.  Maybe that's what it is.  It's giving me an inferiority complex.

If you like Evernote - fine.  If it's the most perfect solution in the world to your life's problems - fine.  If you simply couldn't live without it, and don't know what you did before you found it - fine.

So what's wrong with me? Why don't I feel the same way?

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 3: The Research Log - Use It!

Now that we are in the third week of Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over, I feel able to sit back and review exactly what it is that I intend to put into it - and get out of it.  I have been able to read many other people's Facebook comments and blog posts, and compare and contrast (remember those English essays in school? LOL).  And I am surprised - so many people have not cited their sources at all.  Ever.  OK, my online tree at FamilySearch is barely sourced. My online tree at WikiTree is only 90% sourced.  But my tree in my genealogy program at home is sourced to within an inch of its life!

So many people complained about the IGI, how the information on there was Very Suspect Indeed (verging on the completely wrong).  When I started my genealogy with the Church over 35 years ago, you had to have PROOF in your hot little hand, and two independent verifiers to check your work before it could go anywhere and do anything.  So I started with Prove It First tattooed across my brain.  And Cite It Second was a close runner-up.  So that part of the Do-Over does not churn up any fears for me.

What I am going to have to do is follow a Research Log.  A checklist.  A streamlined procedure.  I have always taught my genealogy students to avoid the 'scattergun approach' like the plague, but haven't followed my own advice.  Physician, heal thyself.  My research procedure (and thought process) went like this:

In Theory
Goal: Find Aunty Mary's birth registration.  Note it down (with source).  Send for the birth certificate.
Place: FreeBMD and GRO.

In Practice
Goal: Do some Genealogy.
Place: Wherever life takes me.
Go to FreeBMD, find Aunty Mary's birth registration, note it down (with source).  And while I'm here...Find birth registrations for all her brothers and sisters.  And parents.  And spouse.  And his parents.
Remember that funny anecdote about Uncle Freddie. Open word processor.  Type it out.
Check Uncle Freddie's "To Do" list.  Oh yes, I was going to go to another site to find his death information.  Go to other site.
Check Facebook for new Do-Over posts.  That one looks good, telling everybody about a new World War One site.
Go to WWI site.  Remember a cousin 4 x removed who might be on the site as well.  Yes, he is.  Note him down (with source).  Wonder if he was in the newspaper?  Open FMP site, search for him.  Yes, he was.  Download clipping.
Hmm...clipping.  Wonder if there were any new free books on Evernote today?  Back to Facebook; yes, there were: go to Amazon.  Author of new book is called Smith.  I have a Smith in my family tree.
Go to Sarah Mahelia Smith (3 x great grandmother).  Search for her in all censuses to firm up her background.
And so on.  (Whatever happened to Aunty Mary?)

So my Do-Over is going to be a Do-Over of methodology.  I need to streamline my research procedure; create a checklist.  Like going shopping - it goes easier and quicker if you have a shopping list and stick to it.  My problem is that I love making lists, but rarely stick to them.  (Hmmm.  I saw a fantastic 'genealogy checklist' on Facebook...)

Enter the Research Log, where I can keep in one place a) what I want to do, b) what I did, and c) what I found.  Just love those spreadsheets.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 1: Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines

Don't beat yourself up; write things down; make backups

All right, I admit it.  In my previous post, I said that this one would be following 'tomorrow'.  Well, 'tomorrow' would have been several days ago.  And that brings me to my first Base Practice and Guideline of the 'Genealogy Do-Over' proposed by Thomas MacEntee:
  • Don't beat yourself up if you cannot get to your researching/blogging right away.
Maybe you were expecting (even hoping?) to see something more along the lines of research strategies, logs, plans, and checklists.  I will come to them later.   But this particular practice-and-guideline is something which is so basic, it needs to come in at No. 1.  While it may be allowable to be mildly annoyed at the fact that you have to work/go grocery shopping/whatever, which is keeping you away from your research, haven't we all had the experience where we don't do some genealogy, then beat ourselves up about it and put off doing anything constructive for a few days more?  By which time, we have forgotten where we got to, and it takes all our precious genealogy-time just to find the jumping-off point.
  • Don't pretend you are young and have superpowers (any more) - write it down.  Make lists.
You do all that yummy research and find trillions of juicy facts *coughs*, throw it into the genealogy database and go off and celebrate.  Or make dinner.  You come back the next day, and have completely forgotten where you found those trillions.  Or you downloaded a cracking good file, and now can't find it (because it's still called 'GBPRS_DEV_007341934_00046' or 'BL_0000328_18481019_011').  Or you look at your 4 x g grandfather's record and know you were going to look for his birth date, but you can't remember for the life of you where you were going to look... Where are your checklists? Where are your research logs?  Where are your research plans?
  • When you have done your researching/blogging, ALWAYS back it up.
I'm not talking proving-it-with-a-document here (although that's pretty essential, too).  I'm talking about backups, here.  On paper, on an external hard drive, in the name it.  But don't just name it.  Do it.

Doubtless, more base practices and guidelines will make themselves felt over the next 13 weeks of this Genealogy Do-Over.  But that's the whole point.  It's time to stop Knowing.  Slow Down and Start Learning.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 1: Preparing to Research

Like others, I got excited at the prospect of Thomas MacEntee's 'Genealogy Do-Over', and immediately flung myself into the first three topics he is covering this week:
  • Setting Previous Research Aside
  • Preparing to Research
  • Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines
Yesterday's post covered the first part: Setting Previous Research Aside, so here's today's:

Part 2: Preparing to Research

Prepare to Research

And this is where I (and, probably, many others) fall down in spectacular fashion.  This is probably why I spend so much valuable research time chasing BSOs (or Bright Shiny Objects, as Thomas MacEntee calls them *grin*).  Not because I am bored, but because I have not prepared well enough.  If I had prepared, then I wouldn't feel the need to go off chasing a better software, a better this, a better that *coughs*.

No, if you prepare beforehand, you shouldn't find yourself spinning in circles because you forgot you needed something.  This is 'futureproofing the past'...

Software I will need
Legacy - for the people; it would take too much time to learn something new
Custodian - to put the sources in and record those unlinked people's sources
Genscriber - to transcribe the censuses, so I don't need to guess again and again
Evernote - to keep the project emails and research logs in
Dragon Naturally Speaking (speech recognition software) - train this up in case my hand gets worse and typing becomes painful

FreeBMD - to get the BMD references from (in case I can afford certificates!)
FindMyPast - to get the parish register info from (images, in some cases)
Google Drive - to backup 'reference library'
Dropbox - to backup Do-over database
Sugarsync - to backup everything

And, if I have time after my full-time job:
FamilySearch indexing
FamilySearch - get those sources in my tree

Part 3: Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines follows tomorrow.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Friday, 2 January 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 1: Setting Previous Research Aside

Like others, I got excited at the prospect of Thomas MacEntee's 'Genealogy Do-Over', and immediately flung myself into the first three topics he is covering this week:

  • Setting Previous Research Aside
  • Preparing to Research
  • Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines
Part 1: Setting Previous Research Aside
There have been many ideas for paper, moving digital files from here to there, labelling things, committing not to look at them and so on.  I realised I was wasting precious Do-Over time reading all the helpful posts on Facebook about what everyone else was doing with their files, and took a good, long, hard look at my files.

I don't actually have too much of this.  The reason is not because I am super-organised and have scanned everything to within an inch of its life, but because, at the point where I was most fascinated by genealogy, I was also unemployed and in debt.  This, unfortunately, continued for years - and meant that I could not afford to go to places and order things and buy things.  So I have ended up with one box of bits of paper, two binders of BMD certificates (from my younger days, when I had money) - and that's pretty much it.

Software, electronic stuff, digital files
Computer mouseHere is my downfall.  I can be researching in a very grown-up way, and as soon as I see a new piece of software/program which helps you catalogue your lists of Great-Aunt Ethel's recipes, I'm there, drooling over the keyboard as I download the free trial.  It is only then that I realise I haven't got a Great-Aunt Ethel...

So, while others are (literally) 'setting aside' their research, I will be 'setting aside' my magpie-like longing for shiny new programs.  I will be turning my 35+ years' worth of research into a reference library, rather than heaving it all into an encrypted folder on my hard drive and throwing away the password.

Part 2: Preparing to Research is for another day.  Might even be tomorrow, if I don't get distracted by the latest-and-greatest genealogy software...*grin*


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