Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ancestry Family Trees

I have read a lot of posts online, mostly on blogs, concerning the use of Ancestry family trees.  Both professional and non-professional genealogists are split on whether these should be used as "working" trees, or be a completely accurate tree (ie: every single person documented with sources out of the gate).

I personally am of the mind that my tree is a work in progress.  Both on my Blanchard side of the family, and the Goyette side, I can trace my tree back quite far.  I have found out this information through others who have the documentation to prove it.  I don't yet, but am working on it, one person at a time.  

I see my Ancestry tree as a place to work, adding sources as I find them.  The final product is what I add to my genealogy program on my computer.  I update the online tree at Ancestry, so that it is as accurate as possible, when I find new information that either proves or disproves a fact/theory.

I do wish their was a place on my tree to add a note stating that this is a working tree, and that no one should take any person as "proven" until I can confirm sources.  But, I think anyone who is serious about their family history will see this.  There will always be those who just copy people from one tree to another, willy nilly.  You can't prevent them from doing this.  They are not really interested in the stories of their family, but rather collecting people on their trees, like trophies.

It is very exciting to find that I have some pretty well known people on the Blanchard side of my family, but I am just as excited to find out the stories and facts about those every day people on my tree, like my Great Grandfather Nichols.  As I have said before, the every day, ordinary people are the ones who worked hard to make this country what it is, and their stories are just as important as those who made a name for themselves.

How do you use your online tree?


Monday, May 21, 2012

Blanchard and Google Books

Until a few months ago, I knew very little about the Blanchard side of my family.  Aside from the fact that my grandfather was named Mayo, after the county in Ireland (according to family stories, yet to confirm this was the reason), I knew little, because there aren't any relatives near us.  We keep in touch with our immediate family, but that is it.

After finding a family tree online, with excellent documentation, I have been able to take this tree back many generations.  I am in the process of collecting my own documentation to prove all the connections.

One thing that astounds me, and excites me, as a history buff, is the amount of information on Google Books about Blanchards.  A simple search of Amasa Blanchard, my 3rd great grandfather, brings up multiple options.  Amasa was a popular name among the Blanchard's, so it takes some serious hours reading, to make sure I am following the right one.  But it is so worth it!  Snippets of his life, and of other Blanchards, really make the picture come together.

You may not have family information in Google Books, but definitely don't over look it as a resource to find things.  It can be invaluable.

Friday, May 18, 2012

History Geeks Get It

In some form or another, all three of my children are history geeks.  Whether this is passed down through the genes (I LOVE history), or it is just created through my own passion for it, it is there in varying degrees.

For those of you that don't know, for much of my children's lives, I have homeschooled them.  Sometimes, history is the biggest chunk of our studies, because we love it so much.  I have to purposely do our science or math, but history always naturally happens.

I think this is just part of what makes me love genealogy.  And it seems that my 16 year old is not far behind me on that.  He has always been fascinated with the fact that his name (Joseph) goes back multiple generations on both sides of the family.  Whenever I find a new relative who carries that name, he is online trying to find out everything he can about him.

Recently I did a barter agreement with an online friend, offering to help her with her family tree, in exchange for a gift card to buy a fairly expensive pair of shoes that don't hurt my feet.  Before I was an hour or two into it, my son was helping me find more sources online, including photos of the headstones of her ancestors.  You could see the light in his eyes, and he found one resource after another.

And his face was beaming this morning, when he informed me that he had contacted our local historical society in our little town, to offer a donation of the bottle from the 1880's that he found on one of his adventures.  He is a bit of a "mountain man", in that he goes out in the woods for hours on end, exploring.  He finds some pretty cool stuff.  No wonder he wants to be a history teacher when he is done high school.  Although I doubt he would fit into a traditional school, with his eclectic style.  

So my history geeks, those great kids of mine, get it when I spend hours researching and reading.  They almost always share in my excitement of a new find.  And that is worth more than anything to a mom's heart, to have that with your children.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lucy Ann Riley

Recently, in connecting with my distant cousins in the Blanchard family online, I was finally able to put a face to a name.  Lucy Ann Riley, daughter of Stephen Riley and Grace, was my great grandmother.  She was the third wife of Charles Forrest Blanchard.

I don't know much about her, I never met her.  From what my grandmother told me, she was a very sweet person, and she really liked her.  She is one that I will be researching very soon.  It is so easy to research the men in the family, they left the paper trails.  Women are much harder, although in most instances, they are the keepers of the family history. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Computer Geeks Heaven

I am going to be sharing my genealogy research with family soon.  Currently, I have folders set up on my computer by Surname, and then individuals within that.  But to have it make sense to someone who isn't into genealogy, or how it is set up, it seems like a lot of random facts.

Enter OneNote software, from Microsoft.  I have had this software for a couple years now, and love playing with it.  I have set up notebooks for things like crocheting and gardening, so it seems only natural to use it to share genealogy with family.  If you cannot afford to buy OneNote, there is a free option called EverNote, that will do much the same thing.

Here is an amazing video made by Brian over at The Paperless Genealogist, which will give you an idea of how it works, and intial ideas to set it up.

My initial thought to other pages that could be included in each person's section would be:
-Photos (make sure you label who is in them, and dates if you know them)
-Census records (this gives a timeline of sorts to where they were)
-City Directories (again, provides a timeline of their location)
-Maps (a map from 1845 of the area your ancestors lived in is really going to add perspective for those looking at the information)
-Miscellaneous (this I would use for things like photos of heirlooms, odds and ends of things you might find online, etc)

For my Blanchard line, I think I will include a Google Books page as well, where I can insert excerpts from numerous Google Books that have information on them, especially the early ancestors.  It will make it easy to provide documentation too, of random items from various books into one place, for those who don't want to go read every single book like I do.

One thing to remember, even in using this set up.....CITE YOUR SOURCES.  This will be invaluable to those who do more research down the road.  It is also the best way to prove your research is worth it's weight in gold.  Don't just go off willy nilly, adding things that don't belong, unless you can prove it.

Things that I find, that are a "maybe", will be kept in the General Notes page at the beginning of each person, until I can prove it.  This is also where I will keep a list of questions that will crop up and need answers, theories, etc.

One of the most exciting things I can see about using OneNote to share what I am finding in the family history, is that it can be saved as a pdf.  This makes it so much easier for anyone wanting to print it out as actual book.  By being able to update the information as I find new things out, sending out a new copy, with a note as to updates, will be invaluable.

How do you store your genealogy on your computer, and share with family?  Would love to hear your ideas.