Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Collaborating To Document Mankind

Collaborate and Document, The Future of Effective Family History Research.
What a gift my mother and sister have provided me, a legacy of research recorded. Through them I have a head start. If only there were more at my fingertips. Thankfully there were others who ignited a fire of interest within me that emboldens me to carry forward, to move forward. Now, will this flame pass on to my children? My children who are busy raising their families? I hope so, I believe so.
There is a new gift coming, for my posterity and for all of us. The gift is a website and a focus. The focus is to have us document mankind. The gift is FamilySearch Family Tree. Family Tree addresses the question, "why should my children have to duplicate the research I have done"? For that matter, why should anyone so interested in a particular ancestor have to duplicate research already done? Š¢he answer is simple, they shouldn't have to.
This concept is going to be a shift in thought for some who think, "I did the research, it’s mine, you can’t have access to it." Isn’t that a selfish point of view? Aren’t private trees selfish?
Oh well, here comes FamilySearch Family Tree. Like it or not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are soon to see a message when they login to their genealogy website The message, “we are forwarding you to Family Tree”.

A signifcant change is that Family Tree is one tree. To illustrate: when I change or add a date of birth of an ancestor, I change it for all. Note, we are expected to document that change in Family Tree. Don't change unless you can document. Think of how awesome that is.

Also besides the document, those of us who have a story, a photo, or something of value – we can load that precious information for all to view. Up to 1000 items per ancestor.
Perhaps these followers, children, cousins, relatives will move on to breaking down our brick walls. They won’t waste time doing what has been done. I keep thinking how cool is that? This is the collaborating part.

Some thoughts and insights on Documentation

Family tree has a piece called conversations. We can communicate together. We can upload what we have. What we will want to is upload all relevant documentation and decide together what the best documentation is. As an example, the only documentation I have on a cousin Ray Spaulding is his funeral program. It provides birthdates and place and death date and place. It’s better than no documentation. However, if another person or relative has a birth or death certificate with a different date, we would probably decide it is a better source. We would most likely use the certificate. Notice the we in this concept? How cool is that?
In addition to uploading the document we will be asked to share where we found it. Why? So future researchers have access to the source we used. They should have the ability to verify, analyze, or discern the accuracy or ramifications of what we have provided. The rule of thumb should be that we “cite our sources”.

Primary Evidence:

Primary evidence is the “Best Evidence” available to prove the fact you are addressing. It could be an original document or record. It could be a first hand testimony in writing or in an oral interview of an eye-witness or participant. (Family Tree will provide the ability to upload oral interviews) Primary evidence might include writings that were done at the time of an event.
Examples of primary evidence would be an original will, a baptismal certificate, a marriage application, or a diary entry.

Secondary Evidence:

Secondary evidence would be materials that are copied or extracted in some form. It would be something taken from an original. Examples: taken from a book or family history, an obituary, or a compilation of: vital records, tombstone recordings, etc.

Direct Evidence:

This is evidence, that standing alone, should show proof to a fact. An example would be a will in which a father states that a particular person is his child. Another example is a marriage application the bride states her maiden name. Another, a family bible entry entered at or near the time of the event.

Indirect Evidence: This is also Circumstantial Evidence.

Sometimes this is all you can find. Even though it is circumstantial it is of value. It may be temporarily the best evidence that leads someone else to a path for more credible discovery.
Indirect evidence may be a fact that is inferred from other evidence. It may be a clue that leads one to further study. It may intimate you go to a particular other reference to verify a fact. A census may name people in a household without stating the relationships of each. Nice clue, not evidence. A census may state an age, not a birth year. Even better it might name a state of birth. More clues, right? A death certificate may give some information, not complete information. A document you have may infer the location of a family plot.
Get excited about how you can be a provider of family history via FamilySearch Family Tree. Anticipate connecting with cousins unknown. Go forward with an attitude of being the giver of the gifts of knowledge and attitude. Be kind as you convert your relatives to the value of collaboration. Always remember, that is not your grandfather, he is our grandfather. You've been given family history gifts, now it's your turn. How cool is that?
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