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Review: Family Trees by François Weil

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Weil, François. Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. 2013. ISBN 9780674045835.

Family Trees begins by detailing the basis for keeping many of the records that our ancestors kept. He goes on from there to detail the large pictures over the next several hundred years of genealogical research. Weil goes into some detail to discuss how the people and the methods they use are changing over time.

The book is well organized. He weaves each major section of the book together expertly and places each major player in their respective time lines: the record keepers, fraudsters, and reformers all have their places.

The discussion toward the end of the last chapter is especially pertinent today as it deals with the democratization and commercialization of genealogy and family history research. Weil details the industry and its effect on genealogists.

Written by N. P. Maling

26 September 2013 at 11:11

Announce: Richard Haven, of Lynn, Massachusetts Genealogy Available

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Adams, Josiah, author, and N. P. Maling, editor. Haven Genealogy: Descendants of Richard Haven, of Lynn, Massachusetts. Boston, Massachusetts: the author. 1843 (reprint, Seattle, Washington: Sea Genes F.H. & G.R. 2012).

I’m making this work of mine available at no charge on this site since the source material it is from is in the public domain. Printed copies of it will be available for purchase on Lulu.com in August 2012.

The Original Version and Changes Thereto

The format of the published research is the author’s own creation and interesting in that it combines in discrete family group sketches several generations of the Haven family. The author created a format for presentation of his forebears and relations that is extremely dense and difficult to work with, however. Adams’ style of using all caps, small caps, and italics for each of the generations within the sketches makes for easier finding.

Due to these factors, I decided to re-work what Mr. Adams had done to make it more accessible to current and future researchers.

The pages are also full and the text cramped. The author used a large number of abbreviations for places (i.e., “Fram.” for Framingham) and terms frequent in the text (i.e., “com.” for committee). The result of the abbreviations and the typographical style is a nightmare of typography.

The type has been changed and the formatting slightly modified to meet current publishing standards. The original page size was smaller than it is here and the type more closely set, resulting in difficult reading.

Most of the abbreviations that Mr. Adams used in the original have been fully spelled out to prevent possible confusion. This change also makes the text flow more realistically.

Editorial and Content Changes

When I started working with this particular book as a resource in a genealogical research project, I kept wondering how much easier it would be to use if there were an index. I also wondered what it would look like if it were re-set in a somewhat different format. An index however, would be as unworkable and as dense as the original, so I decided to leave the volume as an online, on-screen document. This way a researcher can simply work with the book alongside their favorite genealogy program, making their own changes there and comparing their work to what has already been published.

The first thing I did was find a clean copy to work from. One copy I found had considerable marginalia and blobby type. Another copy had no marginalia and clean type; perhaps it was an earlier impression in the printing run. The text file from the clean-type copy gave a much better working draft to begin cleaning up and indexing. The mechanical editing and proofreading was carefully done as there were stray characters inserted by the optical character recognition (OCR) software. Words and characters also had to be reinserted because the OCR software had either misread the text or removed them entirely.

Further editing was then possible. This was necessary to flesh out abbreviated terms and correct typographical and other errors. The resulting text is more readable, and a bit more visually pleasant to use. I also made a number of editorial and typographical changes to modernize the text.

More Improvements

One idea I had was to restructure the text into a New England Historic and Genealogical Register-style format. This would have resulted in a completely different text, so I have left the structure pretty much as found in the 1843 edition. Readers familiar with that edition can compare it to the new one. Because the new edition has a different typeface and a more open presentation, the original pagination was lost. The original page numbers are inserted where they occur as editorial additions in the margin, as such “OP 42”. This addition also preserves the connections between the jump links in the original (i.e., the use of jump links between sketches, like “(See p. 48.)” and “(From p. 17.)”) placing the “From p. 9”, for instance in the margin, also.

It is important to remember that the generation numbers used by Mr. Adams do not consider the immigrant ancestor as generation one. Generation numbers in the Haven genealogy begin with Richard Haven’s children; Richard, the immigrant would be considered generation zero.

The name Sherburne, as used by Mr. Adams, refers to the place called, officially, Sherborne, and later, Sherborn. There was another place called, officially, Sherburne, but it is not correct in the context of this genealogy. I have changed it to the proper form.

Almost all of the italicized words, especially those inside quote marks, have been made regular type. The reason being is that the unnecessary italicization makes the proper names in italic type harder to find.

Toward the end of the original are several items that I thought would be unnecessary in the new edition. At the bottom of page 49 of the original is a note from Mr. Adams; it has been removed. Following page 49 in the original are two tables listing graduates from New England colleges and universities. These have been removed as their content has been shifted to the index. Pages 53 and 54, the transcript of Richard Haven’s will, remain and are set pretty much as found. The will transcript is referred to in a number of the earlier family sketches, while the graduate tables are not referenced at all.

The Typesetting

The typeface used in the original is unknown to me, so I used Linux Libertine. Linux Libertine is a modern interpretation of an early typeface and is designed for use in general-purpose publishing. While the Haven genealogy uses only a few of the characters in the Linux Libertine set, the visual effect is reminiscent of the time that Josiah Adams lived in, and is therefore appropriate to the subject matter of the book. A number of weights and fonts in the family appear, making the entire volume pleasant to look at on-screen and in a printed version. While there appear to be many fonts used, the important thing to remember is that they are all complementary and they fit together as a family in themselves.

Written by N. P. Maling

21 July 2012 at 11:24

Family Sketches and Formatting

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The John Bent family sketch (John¹ Bent Descendents) is something I put together last year, so it might be a bit out of date. It’s an example of the NEHGS Register style, and has one unique feature. The footnotes in this style are bracketed. Making the line breaks work with this style, so that the footnotes stay where they belong, can be tricky.

In my favorite word-processor, OpenOffice.org Writer, I need to put a non-breaking space between the text and the footnote, select it, and open the character formatting dialog to hide the hard space character.

With Microsoft Word (2010), you’d use the Font dialog and choose Hidden from the Effects section.

The sketch is also set up in the NEHGS Register style, a bit different from, and IMHO, better than the one available from their website. I’ll e-mail a copy of this sketch in Word 97-2000 format or OOo ODT format on request. The e-mail address is at the end of the sketch.

This sketch is set up as a 6ʺ × 9ʺ page, designed for printing front-to-back so we can save paper.

Written by N. P. Maling

15 October 2011 at 17:14

Writing a Family Sketch in a Different Style

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Reading a family sketch in the styles provided by most genealogy software is pretty boring. One way to liven up the reading is to transform it into another, less often seen form. One such style is that used by the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s Western Massachusetts Families in 1790 project. Other, similar styles are those of the Maine Families in 1790, the New Hampshire Families in 1790, and the Vermont Families in 1791.  

The Families in 1790 styles are primarily summary presentations of data about families, not unlike genealogy software reports. They are internally quite different, in that they are written by you, and are not simply a string of data statements with (hopefully) excellent citations. They also go farther than most available genealogy reports can, by including information about the family’s neighbors and associates, witnesses to their family happenings, and who in the family knew who else, wherever they were. 

The projects have different citation styles, based on what the sponsoring organization feels is appropriate to their group. The citations all have one thing in common, though, and that is a focus on primary rather than secondary sources. NEHGS has a guide to it’s citation style online next to the information about it’s Families project. 

These four projects, as examples, can give a framework for organizing publications about smaller areas, such as a county or community. One such project might focus on a town in the Mid-West or a southern states county. 

An example of a New Hampshire Families in 1790 sketch is of the Samuel Chamberlain family (Samuel Chamberlain family sketch). Samuel was born in Massachusetts in 1724, and died in Vermont in 1802.

© 2011 N. P. Maling

Sea Genes Family History & Genealogy Research

Written by N. P. Maling

12 October 2011 at 01:16

More Mellen Family Materials

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As an adjunct to my earlier Mellen family post, “Richard Mellen of Massachusetts – Genealogy Available,” I’m adding two versions of earlier genealogies of the family. The first one is a reprint of William Barry’s sketch in A History of Framingham, 1847, Barry’s Framingham Mellen reprint. The second one is a reprint of J. H. Temple’s sketch in History of Framingham, 1887, Temple’s Framingham Mellen reprint.

The two reprints are set up as 6″ × 9″ pages and are designed for front-to-back printing.

Enjoy.
NPM

Written by N. P. Maling

6 October 2011 at 20:08

Wordless Wednesday – Daniel Gorton family register page

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Family register page by Daniel Gorton, born Charlton, Massachusetts, 4 April 1790. There are three other pages, two sheets front and back, in this document, which will not be posted.


Citation: Gorton Family Papers, 1790–. Privately held by N. P. Maling, [address for private use,] Seattle, Washington.

Written by N. P. Maling

5 October 2011 at 14:22

Updated: Brief Genealogy of the Maling Family

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I’ve just discovered that some sites are still linking to the long-gone geocities.com site. geocities was closed by Yahoo in the summer/fall of 2009, so all of the links from other sites to that domain are broken.

My site in particular should be considered obsolete and inaccurate. Please contact me if you desire to know whether anything you use from that site is still correct. Please also remember that the material on that site is copyrighted.

As an update, I’ve edited and updated the ‘introduction’ from that site, and made it into an article for your reference. It is a PDF document, designed to be printed front-to-back, or double-sided, to save paper. Here is A Brief Genealogy of the Maling Family.

Written by N. P. Maling

21 September 2011 at 13:27