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Archive for November 2011

Sunday’s Obituary – Elizabeth M. Mills – Granite Falls, Washington

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Elizabeth M. Mills

Mrs. Elizabeth M. Mills, 71, of Granite Falls, died at her home early Monday morning after an extended illness. She was born October 23, 1878, in Pennsylvania and resided in Granite Falls for the past 40 years. She is survived by her husband, Robert Mills at home; three sons, Darrel A. Mills and Keith Mills of Granite Falls and George E. Mills of Bellingham; one sister; Mrs. Lou Connally in Pennsylvania, and three grandchildren. Funeral arrangements will be announced later from the chapel of Challacombe and Fickel.

Everett Herald, Everett, Washington, 5 March 1951, page 15, column 5.

Obituary - Elizabeth M.Mills

Obituary - Elizabeth M. Mills - Everett Herald, Everett, Washington 5 March 1951, page 15, column 5.

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Written by N. P. Maling

27 November 2011 at 00:01

Tech Tuesday – Source-centricity

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I’d like to illustrate how I handle part of the chain of research in The Master Genealogist. This post is inspired by DearMYRTLE’s post “Did You View it Personally,” and Louis Kessler’s 6 bad things list.

In a person-centric genealogy application you enter the cousin as a person, and then attach the source to them. In a source-centric genealogy application you enter the source, using the cousin as the repository of the source. You are still adding the cousin, but you are connecting them to the source, rather than adding them as a perhaps unattached person in your database. The cousin may not appear in your database but their source is available for attaching to people who are in the database.

One way you can use these unattached sources is in to-do lists. The sources are in the database, linked to persons you are researching, but not directly attached to them as a source. Doing it this way keeps you from mistakenly citing a source you haven’t used directly. When you have directly used the source, you can attach it directly to the people referred to in that source. The source is still backed up with the cousin as the source of your source.

Handling a source this way enables you to keep the two sources together, and see one each time you use the other. This, is what I meant by my question “Is a person’s oral history interview transcript that much different from a person as a source?” In TMG you make them both sources.

© 2011 N. P. Maling – Sea Genes Family History & Genealogy Research

Written by N. P. Maling

22 November 2011 at 08:12

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Monday Madness – Response to Louis Kessler’s 6 Bad Things

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A response to Louis Kessler’s 6 Bad Things About Today’s Genealogy Software:

Mr. Kessler posted six statements (marked below as “LK:”) on Sunday evening and one reader asked for suggestions, so I am responding with my opinions.

I must warn you, however, that the software I’m going to discuss, The Master Genealogist version 7.04, may be too technical for some users. It has one of the steepest learning curves of any software on the market but it’s power is unmatched. It also has a large number of flaws. I’ll use the acronym TMG and not spell out the full name all the time.

Oh, and please forgive my not specifically mentioning other applications; Mr. Kessler didn’t, so I won’t, either.

LK: 1. They make you enter your data into forms and require you run reports to see (some of) your data.

NPM: Genealogy is about collecting data that is precisely suited for form-based entry. Any text we create to go with that data is also generally handled well by the forms presented in genealogy software.

TMG has tags for almost any name part you can imagine and you can create your own at need. The tags are available all source, person, place, or event entries. You can also create tags for just about any other item you can think of beyond the provided tags.

The reporting features in TMG allow you to create your own reports for text-based output or comma-separated data files. You can use a variety of tools to view them. You pick the fields you need to see, all or some. The only fields you really don’t need to see in a report are internal to TMG. TMG does have one major flaw in it’s data extraction but that is due to the antiquated database engine it uses, not the application itself.

LK: 2. They are person-centric, rather than source-centric.

NPM: This one takes a bit of thought. People are our sources and the sources we use to document them are also sources, no? I understand the distinction as illustrated in the Genealogical Data Model (GDM) between persons and sources, but is there really any difference? Is a person’s oral history interview transcript that much different from a person as a source?

The major flaw in most genealogy software is that it is based on a flawed data transport model (DTM) which was not designed to handle genealogically relevant sources. TMG is based roughly on the GDM, The only constraint on TMG is that it has to acknowledge the flawed DTM, rendering some of it’s functionality less than ideal.

LK: 3. They emphasize formatting your citations correctly, rather than documenting your sources correctly

NPM: Sources are citations to people and vice versa. Citations of those sources are only part of the documentation process. The problem with most genealogy applications is that you are forced to use hard-coded formats. TMG allows you to create any tag you need for sources and citations. You can also format them as you wish for text or spreadsheet use. In the report outputs you can choose whether to include the citation part of the source entry.

LK: 4. They promote merging other people’s data with yours, rather than keeping them separate and virtually merging

NPM: Smart genealogists know when it is proper to use merging features. That decision is theirs, not the application’s. TMG allows it’s users to create links between data sets, or separate databases, and either maintain them separately or merge them selectively.

LK: 5. They don’t adhere to GEDCOM standards, thereby not allowing you to correctly transfer your data between programs.

NPM: True, it’s an unfortunate result of having a flawed DTM being kludged into a genealogy application. That flawed DTM was never meant to handle the data a genealogist uses so no genealogy application can hope to adhere to it. TMG is one of the worst offenders in this area because it is based on a realistic model of genealogically significant data. The problem with TMG is that since you can enter so much genealogically relevant data into it, there is no hope of force-fitting that data into an unrealistic DTM.

LK: 6. They try to do everything, except the one thing you want them to do: Help you quickly and easily record your data, evidence and conclusions and let you make use of them.

NPM: Some genealogy applications do try to do everything; that’s because their creators add useless do-dads to get market share. TMG has, partly because of it’s ummm, “snailtacular” (thanks, Tamura!) development history, not fallen prey to this mutation in genealogy applications.

TMG does not “try to do everything.” It lets the user try everything. TMG is a platform for users to grow into. TMG users learn to adapt it to their data, and it limits them only when necessary. I’ve mentioned the tags a couple of times already. These tags, and the data entry forms that use them, allow you “easily record your data ….” They also allow you to use your data as you see fit (mostly). Once the data entry forms are set up, away you go, quickly.

I am not promoting, advocating, or otherwise affiliating myself with sales of TMG based on these comments. I use TMG because it works. It is broken in some ways, but it is far better than the other genealogy applications out there. Oh, and by the way: let’s not forget that I’m referring to TMG version 7.04 only.

NPM

Portions of this article © 2011 N. P. Maling – Sea Genes Family History & Genealogy Research

Written by N. P. Maling

21 November 2011 at 07:05

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Sunday’s Obituary – Frank S. Maling, Seattle, Washington

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Frank S. Maling

Funeral services for Frank S. Maling, 70 years old, of 6031 Beacon Ave., will be held at 10:30 o’clock Monday forenoon at the Home Undertaking Company. Burial will be in Riverton Crest. He died Thursday at Redmond.

Mr. Maling, born in Canada, had lived here since 1898. He was a retired farmer.

Surviving are a son, Howard S., and a stepson, William Biart, both of Seattle.

Seattle Daily Times, Seattle, Washington, 12 October 1946, page 14, column 5.

Obituary, Frank S. Maling

"Frank S. Maling," Seattle Daily Times, Seattle, Washington, 12 October 1946, page 14, column 5.

Written by N. P. Maling

20 November 2011 at 05:36

Newspaper research tip

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One of my great grand uncles died in a small town. His obituary was picked up by the Associated Press wire service. It appeared in the New York Times and the Seattle Daily Times. He didn’t have any real connection to either place. He was a Mainer. He was born in and he died in Maine. He lived there, and in California and Hawaii.

Another person I’ve researched a bit, George A. Radford, lived in Seattle, Washington most of his life. His obituary appeared in both the Seattle Daily Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The article in the PI has a great deal more information than the piece in the Times. The latter only briefly mentioned his funeral arrangements while the PI gave information about his family and affairs.

"G. A. Radford Found Dead in Bed," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle, Washington, 1 January 1940, page 10, column 2.

"George A. Radford Funeral," Seattle Daily Times, Seattle, Washington, 2 January 1940, page 23, column 7.

Why so much in one paper and not the other? They’re both in the same city and should have the same coverage, right? Not necessarily. There are a number of reasons an event is covered in one but not the other. A major reason is business, another reason is politics, a third reason is interest from readers for certain kinds of information. A fourth, and increasingly popular reason, is entertainment coverage, which beats out coverage of the everyday events of our lives. Yet another reason, related to the business of newspapers, is selling advertisements.

Successfully researching a person’s history beginning with only a newspaper article, as I did with Mr. Radford, depends on how much information is given in the article, or articles, which cover the person. If I had only relied on the Times article I wouldn’t have had much to go on and would need to have used a great many other sources. Because Mr. and Mrs. Radford didn’t leave children, where would I look without references to their family as it appeared in the PI article?

Is there more than one newspaper for an area? Use them.

Written by N. P. Maling

19 November 2011 at 10:12

Citations – Madness or Sanity?

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An Antebellum era (pre-civil war) family Bible...

Image via Wikipedia

Working with genealogical materials in a responsible way calls for citing them in a responsible way. Some folks cringe at the mere thought of citations while others obsess over them. Which way is better? Which way is worse?

The middle way, or the way I’ve chosen to do citations is to use the KISS principle. Keep It Simple, Simon. (Simon also happens to be the given name of the patriarch of one of my most often researched lines.)

Years ago when I started out, there were several different methods I knew of for citing sources, Chicago, Lackey, MLA, etc. Then comes E. S. Mills with Evidence Explained, in 1997. This is the simplest method, combining the other styles I just listed, with the more specialized source styles preferred for genealogy materials. Then, a few years later, comes the big Evidence Explained book. Whoa! I had already set up more than 1,000 sources in the earlier style and wasn’t keen on re-doing them all to the new style. Am I wrong to not “fix” them? No, not really.

The 1997 EE style is sufficient for the majority of materials and can be adapted to special cases based on styles for similar materials. Works for me. My cites are better than they were, and are easily adapted to other styles, such as a society’s “house” style, or moving to a different piece of software.

I keep the big EE book handy to check my existing source citation templates and use those styles for new, and different, materials not covered in the 1997 EE book. There really isn’t much difference, so they all meld together in a readable and usable format. It also keeps me from obsessing over fixing all thousand-plus sources, and it’s hardly madness to do it this way.

As an aside, you might ask: “Why do you have so many sources?” I’m not a lumper like some folks on The Master Genealogist mailing list call themselves. Nor am I a splitter. I am a realist. I keep each source separated as much as possible so that if the templates I use get separated from the source data for some reason, all is not lost. Here’s the way I see it:

Simple fact: if all the source data is in one place, the source entry can’t fall apart when I shift from one application to another. Say I’m using a census entry. What happens if the word “census” only appears in the template and not in the source data? The rest of the entry is ambiguous so If I see the data without the template, I’m left asking “1870 what?”

An analogy is the recommended practice of writing your source citation on the front of a photocopy. If the source entry is written on the back, it can get lost when someone else makes a copy of it, leaving them with just the data on the front.

Simple fact: if all the data appears in a citation, like it should, then I can just excise the bits I don’t need for the particular house style I’m using. Magazine cite styles are shorter than professional report cite styles. Many journals are focused on one place or region and the readers can very easily fill in the missing data from the context for themselves.

The flow of data, from complete entry to short-form citation in a report, is consistent. There is nothing unnecessary added and there is nothing unnecessary removed. I can also focus more on what I’m doing at the moment and not flipping around.

It’s easy to handle citations in this way. I’d rather not spend time hunting down a needed piece of data in one application when I’m trying to write a report in another application.

Oh, and an admission: some of my source entries, not very many, though, could be tighter, but since I don’t need them very often, I also follow the YAGNI principle: “You ain’t gonna need it.” So I haven’t fixed them. If it’s not broken ….

NPM

© 2011 N. P. Maling – Sea Genes Family History & Genealogy Research

Written by N. P. Maling

16 November 2011 at 05:25

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Sunday’s Obituary – Louise K. Pries

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Louise K. Pries

Louise K. Pries, 91, died at her home, 3723 Wetmore Avenue, following a short illness. She was born in Elma, Kansas, October 24, 1859, and came with the family to Everett in 1932. Mrs. Pries was a member of the Episcopal Lutheran Church. Surviving relatives are a son, William Pries of Redlands, Calif.; two daughters, Mrs. J. L. Coyne of 3723 Wetmore Avenue and Mrs. F. C. Noller of Topeka, Kansas, and five grandchildren. Funeral services will be held at the Chapel of Challacombe & Fickel Wednesday afternoon at 3 o’clock. The Rev. Edwin J. Johnson of Trinity Lutheran Church will conduct the services. Burial will be in Rosehill Mausoleum. Washelli, Seattle.

Louise K. Pries - Obituary from Everett Herald

Louise K. Pries - Everett Herald, 5 March 1951.

Everett Herald, Everett, Washington 5 March 1951, page 15, column 5.

Written by N. P. Maling

13 November 2011 at 05:46