Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Natal marriages in FamilySearch

I've recently being following up some of the "hints" on FamilySearch for possible connections.

Among the records in the "hints" were "Natal Civil Marriages", and at first I rejoiced because they appeared to give an actual date of marriage, whereas I had only had a month and a year.

But on reflection it seems to me that these "marriage dates" are misleading. About 25 years ago I think I looked at some of these records in the Natal Archives and if I recall correctly they are not marriage registers but marriage notifications, and the date recorded is the date of the notification, not the date of the marriage.

This seemed to be confirmed for me when one couple were shown as having married on 8 Oct 1886, but their ante-nuptial contract was only signed on 22 October, which means they could only have got married after the latter date.

I don't know how one can notify the people at FamilySearch that this information is misleading, but perhaps they ought to point this out, or a whole lot of false and confusing marriage dates are going to be inserted in their records as a result of these "hints".

Friday, August 11, 2017

Can HistoryLines Really Build an Instant Personal History of Your Ancestors?

when I read this, I was rather sceptical, and thought it was one ofn those "too good to be true" things Can HistoryLines Really Build an Instant Personal History of Your Ancestors?:
The HistoryLines website bills itself as “Instant Personal History.” Those of us who love family history get really excited when we think we can get a lot of valuable information quick and easy. So at first glance HistoryLines can seem a little disappointing. Instant personal history may be overselling it. But, like any good tool, the more you put into it the more you get out. And on second glance, HistoryLines is a good tool.
But since they offered a free trial, I thought I'd have a look, and, as I suspected, it offered a time line and some boilerplate text.

The first one I chose was my great great grandfather John Bagot Cottam (1836-1911). He was born in Salford, Lancashire, England, and emigrated to Natal in 1863, with his wife Adelaide Herbert (1831-1909) and three daughters. They had more daughters in Durban where he died in 1911.

Now it's possible that the paid-for version offers a bit more, but the free version asks for the first name and surname, date and place of birth and death, and sex of the person and that's all. If it asked for a couple of residence dates and places, or an emigration date and place, it might have been able to come up with more relevant boilerplate information, but it didn't.

It did have the First and Second Anglo-Boer Wars, but failed to mention the Union of South Africa in 1910. It also failed to mention the American Civil War. But why should it, if he was born in England and died in South Africa and was never in the USA?

In the case of John Bagot Cottam, however, that was probably a relevant fact. He emigrated to Natal in 1863 to be accountant to the Natal Cotton Plantation Company. Cotton planting never took off in Natal, but in 1863 the cotton mills of Manchester were desperately looking for alternative sources of raw cotton, since the US Civil War had made the American supply dry up.

If HistoryLines had come up with something like that, I might have seriously considered paying for it. But one can probably get more relevant results by doing your own Google searches using the dates in your family member's time line.

The second test was not a direct ancestor, but a relation who lived in the USA. I thought that as HistoryLines was an American project, it might do better with people in the US, so I thought that to be fair I should try one.

The one I chose was William Nelson Growden (1893-1979). He was born in Tennessee, died in Los Angeles, but spent most of his adult life in Alaska. He lived in Ruby, Alaska, and was in government service, and was at one time a member of the Alaska Territorial House of Representatives.

Again, perhaps if HistoryLines had correlated residence information it might have come up with more relevant boilerplate text, but as it was it did not mention the earthquake and tsunami in Valdez, Alaska, in 1964, which killed William Nelson Growden's youngest son and two of his grandchildren.

So no, though it sounds good in the blurb, I'm not tempted by this one.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

10 Free Genealogy Apps to Help You With Your Research

I tend to use my computer rather than my phone for research, but some of these can copy stuff to your computer as well. 10 Free Genealogy Apps to Help You With Your Research:
Taking the time to properly organize is key to productive and fruitful research. We cover this in detail in our online course. Here are three apps that are a great choice for this purpose. 4. Evernote Organizational apps come and go, but Evernote has had true staying power. Available for the iPhone and Android, it also integrates with numerous other apps and systems in addition to offering a host of its own separate apps that can help with specific tasks – everything from scanning to keeping contact lists. The app is so popular because it’s a powerhouse with seemingly endless possibilities. The downside of that is that because it offers so much it can be a bit intimidating to figure out in the start, but once you invest the energy to learn the system the payoff can be enormous. Warning to iPhone users: the latest version has received very low ratings in the Apple Store.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

My (very informal) research log - Organize Your Family History

My (very informal) research log - Organize Your Family History:
I keep my log in Evernote. I have a notebook there called “2017 Research Log” and each time I do some research I try to create a log entry. I create a new note in the aforenamed notebook and head it with the date. Then I just type notes that I think might be useful in the future. I try to include what I was looking for, what I found and what next steps would be.

Ahmed Timol inquest unravels apartheid cover ups that protected security police | News | M&G

Ahmed Timol inquest unravels apartheid cover ups that protected security police | News | M&G:
The second sitting of the inquest into apartheid activist Ahmed Timol’s death began at the Pretoria high court on Monday. Witnesses have begun testifying and with them the doors of the security branch’s violent history in Johannesburg have once again been pulled wide open to deliver scrutiny on systematic cover-ups to protect police during apartheid. They were called the “resident sweepers” and their job was to make sure apartheid police forces were never implicated in unlawful acts such as torture or murder even if they had to fabricate evidence to the courts in the process. Paul Erasmus, a former member of the Security Branch, revealed an extent of the apartheid-era cover ups in his testimony at the Timol inquest.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

When Incest Is Best: Kissing Cousins Have More Kin - Scientific American

When Incest Is Best: Kissing Cousins Have More Kin - Scientific American:
It is not quite incest. And though it will increase your chances of birthing a healthy baby, it is a bit unorthodox, to say the least. Still, scientists at Icelandic biotechnology company deCODE genetics say that when third and fourth cousins procreate, they generally have scads of kids and grandkids (relative to everyone else).
It's interesting that the canon law of the Orthodox Church prohibits marriage between second cousins or people more closely related, which means there could be quite a lot of third-cousin marriages in small isolated Greek villages, for example.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

German Genealogical Research in South Africa

German Genealogical Research in South Africa:

This page is to help you in doing specifically German genealogical research in South Africa. Obviously the general directions are the same as for all other South Africans, but there are a few extra sources, which are to be discussed here. To start you off have a look at these pages:

  • Germans in South Africa 
  • A list of early German immigrants to the Cape 1652-1806 
  • A list of German surnames in South Africa 
  • A list of Berlin Missionaries in South Africa 
  • A list of Hermannsburg Missionaries in South Africa 
  • A list of Moravian Missionaries in South Africa 
  • Ship's passenger lists Hamburg-South Africa 
  • Surname interest list for families of German origin in South Africa 
  • Individual Immigrants of the 19th Century 
  • An address book of Germans in Cape Town in 1886 
  • Genealogy in the old German colonies in Africa 

(You can search all these lists from the Home page.)

Sunday, July 02, 2017

No, You DON'T Need a Paid Subscription to Do Genealogy Research

If you subscribe to one of the paid genealogy services, or if you are thinking of doing so, please read this. No, You DON'T Need a Paid Subscription to Do Genealogy Research:
If you have been doing family history research for a while, you are probably fully aware of the fact that there are many free genealogy sites available to you. But for those that are just starting out, it can be very hard to see past the well-promoted paid subscription sites and many people become frustrated when trying to locate records and resources that are actually free.
If you are just starting out, it is in fact better not to use one of the paid services. Many of them will lead you astray, and encourage you to create a completely false genealogy. They offer "hints" and suggestions and "Smartmatches" which can be (and often are) completely false and misleading, and inexperienced users don't know enough to sift the good from the bad.

Begin your research using free resources, and perhaps paying for things like birth, marriage and death certificates, and then, when you've gone as far as you can and perhaps got stuck, join one of the paid services that has records for the area where you are researching.But until you've done some of the basic initial research you won't be able to tell which area you are looking at -- you need to find where your recent ancestors lived first.

And until you've done the basic research, you won't be able to discriminate between good genealogy and bad. Just as there's a lot of fake news out there in the Internet, so there is also a lot of fake genealogy.

In addition, once you subscribe to a paid genealogy site, they will try to lock you in, and keep you as a prisoner. If you add your genealogy to such a site, other members of your family won't be able to see it unless they also subscribe. So make sure that if you do subscribe to a paid site, you don't only keep your fasmily tree there. Keep it on your computer at home, and preferably contact other family members by e-mail, and exchange information that way.

If a distant cousin contacts you and says you may have some relations in common, don't refer them to your tree on xxxx.com. Rather communicate with them directly to exchange information.

I once put my family tree on a free web site. A commercial firm bought it, incorporated all the data, and now they want me to pay to access the data I put there. What is more, they keep telling others that they have links to information on my tree, but they can only communicate with me through that site, and can't do so unless I pay their unaffordable fee. I've added to my family tree and corrected a lot of errors since then, but their clients can't see that, nor can they communicate with me, because they are "locked in" to only communicate with other paid subscribers.



Thursday, June 29, 2017

FamilySearch to End Microfilm Distribution, Plans to Digitize All Records by 2020 | Family History Daily

Question is: they have census records on microfilm, which patrons can look at at Family History Centers, but the digital versions are at present only to those who subscribe to "for pay" services like Ancestry.com and Find My Past. How will this affect those commercial firms? FamilySearch to End Microfilm Distribution, Plans to Digitize All Records by 2020 | Family History Daily:
On Sept 1, 2017 FamilySearch will make a big change to how they handle their vast collection of microfilmed genealogy records by no longer distributing them to the thousands of Family History Centers in the US and elsewhere.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Free British and Irish Records 23-26 June 2017

Some may find this useful: Free British and Irish Records | Trace Ancestors | Findmypast:
All of Findmypast's British and Irish records are FREE to access from 22-26 June 2017 Findmypast is unrivalled when it comes to UK parish records and Irish family history resources and to prove it, we're making all of our British and Irish record collections FREE to everyone from Thursday 22 - Monday 26 June 2017. Free access will begin at 9am (BST) on 22 June and end at 11.59pm (BST) on 26 June During this time you can enjoy over 1.1 billion of Findmypast's British and Irish records completely free. What's Included in the FREE Access? The easiest way to see what is included in this special free access is to visit our A-Z of records. All of the record sets listed under both the United Kingdom and Ireland sections of the 'Showing records from' menu are included.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Identical Triplets Stunned To Learn Their DNA Doesn't Match

I wonder how many other people have been fleeced by the people who run these dubious DNA tests? Identical Triplets Stunned To Learn Their DNA Doesn't Match:
They took the test again, this time with a different brand. It became clear that the problem was not with the triplets, but with the test kits themselves. The researchers then ran the same tests of different sets of multiples, and the results got even more confusing. Find out the real reason their DNA didn't match in the video below, and learn how this affects you too.
DNA testing, even if accurate, is unlikely to help you much in your search for ancestors. At best, it can confirm whether someone you have doubts about is or is not related to you.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Announcing a new initiative: GeneaBloggersTRIBE.com - GeneaBloggers

Is this good news? I'm not so sure. Announcing a new initiative: GeneaBloggersTRIBE.com - GeneaBloggers:
Announcing a new initiative benefiting genealogy consumers and content providers alike, GeneaBloggers.com and GeneaBloggersTRIBE.com have agreed to streamline features to meet consumer expectations and provide blogger support. Thomas MacEntee will continue working to assure great deals for the wider genealogy community via the GeneaBloggers.com site. A team of dedicated bloggers will expand support for family history bloggers under the new domain GeneaBloggersTRIBE.com.
I'm not sure that I'd like to be called a "genealogy consumer" or a "genealogy content provider". I'm just interested in genealogy and family history and I like communicating with others who are interested, and especially others who are interested in the same families. does that make me a "content provider" of the information I give to them, and a "consumer" of the information that they make available to me, and vice versa? I rather hope not. Those terms sound rather disparaging to me. But at least the article explains why I haven't heard anything about the Carnival of Genealogy for a long time, even if it doesn't explain much else.

Back in the day, the joy of online genealogy research was peer-to-peer communication between genealogy researchers.  "Content Providers" and "Consumers" make me want to puke.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Why General Genealogy Searches Are NOT the Best Way to Find Your Ancestors | Family History Daily

Why General Genealogy Searches Are NOT the Best Way to Find Your Ancestors | Family History Daily:
The absolute best way to begin overcoming this limitation is to use the general search box sparingly (especially on large genealogy websites) and focus instead on searching individual record collections. Searching individual collections allows you to educate yourself about the records being searched, to use creative techniques more effectively, to more easily make use of limited browsing and to uncover records you may very well have never discovered otherwise. This is especially true when you are facing obstacles in your research.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Unburdening, Uncapturing: SACC and SACP take leadership while ANC dithers | Daily Maverick

Unburdening, Uncapturing: SACC and SACP take leadership while ANC dithers | Daily Maverick:
,,,for the first time since the height of apartheid, the church is intervening to take on “a government that has lost its moral legitimacy”. The SACP, meanwhile, is convening “progressive forces” in the country for a national imbizo that could set the agenda for the big political conferences coming up.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My (very informal) research log - Organize Your Family History

My (very informal) research log - Organize Your Family History:

I keep my log in Evernote. I have a notebook there called “2017 Research Log” and each time I do some research I try to create a log entry. I create a new note in the aforenamed notebook and head it with the date. Then I just type notes that I think might be useful in the future. I try to include what I was looking for, what I found and what next steps would be.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

“Why Should I Use MyHeritage?” Here’s Why . . . and Why Not

I saw the link to this article in my Twitter feed, and was curious, because I have assiduously avoided MyHeritage ever since they nicked my data without telling me they were doing so, and then wanted to charge me for accessing it.
“Why Should I Use MyHeritage?” Here’s Why . . .GeneaBloggers
and here's why not...
MyHeritage.com — another scam site? | Hayes & Greene family history
You pays your money and you takes your pick.

But the emphasis is on you pays your money.

Monday, March 06, 2017

10 Ways to Search Google for Information that 96% of people don’t Know about

I've read lots of articles on how to use search engines more effectively, but few of them have been as useful as this one.

10 Ways to Search Google for Information That 96% of People Don’t Know About:

1. Either this or that

Sometimes we’re not sure that we’ve correctly remembered the information or the name we need to start our search. But this doesn’t have to be a problem! Simply put in a few potential variations of what you’re looking for, and separate them by typing the “|“ symbol. Instead of this symbol you can also use ”or." Then it’s easy enough to choose the result that makes the most sense.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

This Data Will Make You Question Every Census Record You've Collected

A useful article on interpreting data from censuses. Most of us ignore the "Instructions to Enumerators" and rush on to record the data themselves, but if we do that, the data can easily be misinterpreted. This Data Will Make You Question Every Census Record You've Collected:

At first glance Instructions to Enumerators sounds pretty benign — it certainly doesn’t sound like it should be shaking any foundations. But it turns out that these documents provide some very surprising insights into the data recorded in the US census. The Instructions to Enumerators specified for the census takers what information was to be collected for each census year, how to properly collect that information, what data should be questioned and what data should be excluded. The instructions put much of the information that we often take at face value into a whole new light. They provide a context to the information that could easily change how that information should be read, understood and used.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The New GRO Searchable Database – AncestorCloud Blog

Until a few months ago, if you wanted access to English birth, marriage and death registrations, you had to buy a certificate, which was expensive. A new scheme mkakes it possible to get PDF copies of the original register entries, at least in the case of births and deaths, and there are also better partial indexes available. The New GRO Searchable Database – AncestorCloud Blog:
During November 2016 the GRO trialled the first of 3 pilot schemes, allowing the purchase and emailing of PDF copies including birth records dated 1837-1934 and death records dated 1837-1957. These copies can only be used for research purposes not for official identification purposes as they are not certified. Marriage certificates were not included in this trial. Phase 2 would pilot the delivery of the PDF records within 3 hours, and phase 3 the delivery of PDF copies of civil registration entries that are not held by GRO in a digital format.
For the indexes
To assist in the ordering process a free online searchable database was also introduced. To access this you must register and login into the GRO website. Unlike the original GRO indexes, which many UK based family history researchers are familiar with, these indexes include the mother’s maiden name for most birth registrations prior to 1911, and ages of death prior to 1860. Both of these will be a huge boost for researchers. Sadly, the birth index only goes up to 1915, although the death index continues to 1957. This means that in order to purchase a PDF copy of a post 1915 birth record, the reference details must be found on the FreeBMD website or other partner databases. There is currently no searchable GRO index for marriages.
The linked arti9cle has useful tips on how to use the sire.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The 13 Reasons You Can't Break Down Your Brick Walls | Family History Daily

The 13 Reasons You Can't Break Down Your Brick Walls | Family History Daily:
Searching for and locating records about our ancestors is seldom a simple process. Of course, we all have those easy-to-find individuals that seem to appear in every single record at just the right time — but many of us spend most of our time searching for those elusive members of our tree that appear to have avoided being recorded on purpose. If you’ve hit a brick wall in your research, check our list of 13 common reasons why people fail to find the genealogy data they’re looking for. These are not the only reasons a person might hit a brick wall, but in the vast majority of cases one or more of these observations apply. If you feel that something on the list describes your research, take the time to address it and you might find that you tear down your family history obstacle once and for all.
Blogged for future reference!