Posted in Adair County Kentucky, Kentucky, Organization, Personal, Research, Ripley County Missouri, Russell County, Kentucky, Surname: Stephens, tagged genealogy, Russell County, Stephens on October 20, 2013 |
3 Comments »
Collaboration! That’s where it’s at when it comes to genealogy research. Finding “cuzzins” and exchanging information – that’s the goal!
Whenever I partner with another researcher, I’m never certain what records they might have access to. Do I need to order a microfilm or does one of my research partners already have access to it? Does a cousin know about a resource that I’ve never even thought of looking for?
I’ve often thought that it would be great to be able to share a database of resources. I’d love to create a database, relevant to my family line, of all possible resources to help in my research and who has access to them, but to make it really worthwhile, I need to take several things into account.
- This needs to be easy – even for those who aren’t comfortable with technology.
- This needs to be compatible with PC, Mac, iPad, etc.
- There needs to be a way to make sure that everyone is collecting the same information.
- There needs to be a way to make all results available to everyone so that everyone reaps the benefits and is motivated to contribute.
- I would like to make this available to people that I haven’t even met yet to try to make new family connections.
- I would like for this to be a true collaboration tool which means that it should be possible to makes comments and ask questions within the document.
My solution? A Google Form that automatically enters information into a sharable spreadsheet.
I think the Google Form is the easiest answer for #1-3 above. I think that making the Form and Spreadsheet available through my blog may be the answer to #4-6. So I’m including the form below, but I’m also adding a tab at the top of this blog so that Stephens Researchers can quickly access the form and the spreadsheet without having to look for this specific post.
Am I concerned that this will turn into more work than I’m looking for? yes.
Am I worried that somehow, there will be a negative side to this that I haven’t thought of yet? yes.
Am I worried that the “Build it and they will come” philosophy will be a total bust for this? yes.
Am I going to give it a try anyway? yes.
If you are researching the same Stephens family that I am (Welcome Stephens, Dudley Stephens, Rev. William Stephens, etc) then I would love to hear from you!
Read Full Post »
Sometimes, a genealogist has a branch on the tree that has been researched for years and years by other genealogists. Family histories are published. Trees are uploaded to Ancestry – some are sourced, many are not. Those trees are copied an exponential number of times to other trees. So when a beginning genealogist begins their research, there seems to be an overwhelming amount of evidence to be gleefully accepted as fact.
Then, after creating a timeline for your ancestors, there is a question about how the jump to a previous generations was proven. With a 40 year gap in the records, why does everyone believe this is the correct mother and father? How do you know that this name in the new county is the correct father? There is no marriage record to be found (well, it WAS 250 years ago, so you might think that’s not unusual), so how was the mother connected to the father? Certainly, you think, someone has proven it because it’s on the internet and in books and in newsletters. Someone has a genealogy written out by an earlier ancestor – and everything else has been proven, how could this be wrong? Is research that was done “B.I.” (before the internet) more accurate than research we can do now?
So when another researcher comes along with a totally new idea – what do you do? Ignore it and continue looking for that “missing link” document? The one that makes the connection everyone has been claiming? Or do you set aside what you’ve always believed – the line that you’ve researched for years – the line that everyone else says is true? Are you open-minded enough to try to prove this new potential line? There is an emotional attachment to people you’ve been researching for so long. Is it betrayal to put those “ancestors” in a drawer?
The new information is well documented, but in a round about way – not through your direct line. There is still no document that directly links your ancestor to the generation before, but if you are willing to believe that the most common-sense approach is to believe that neighbors were brothers who witnessed documents for one another and became surety for one another, THEN you can begin to think this new line is more believable that the line you’ve always known.
What would be the negative side to “switching lines”? People who have shared information with you in the past might write you off as someone who is trying to stir up controversy. Or, in a couple of years, you might realize that this new line cannot be right and you’ve “wasted” years of research time. Notes and databases become a mess while making “the switch”. Will it be worth it?
I think that today, I am prepared to take the leap – to make the switch – to be open-minded to the idea that someone else’s research might be a better path to follow. I’m ready to take the “road less traveled” to see where it takes me.
Read Full Post »