Saturday, January 30, 2016

Kickin' it with Noel C. Stevenson and The Kills

"The ability to correctly interpret source material from all types of records is the feature which discloses the difference between the rank amateur and the competent genealogist."
--Noel C. Stevenson, Genealogical Evidence, p. 146.

"Now I'm only sour cherry on your fruit stand, right? Am I the only sour cherry on the fruit stand?"
-- The Kills, "Sour Cherry," Midnight Boom.

A classic and essential for the genealogical library is Noel C. Stevenson's Genealogical Evidence: A Guide to the Standard of Proof relating to Pedigrees, Ancestry, Heirship and Family History. Right from the beginning he gets into the dirty deets: illegitimacy. The history of illegitimacy, maternity, paternity and "biological pedigree" are discussed. Biological pedigree itself, should have a book written on it. Chapter two focuses on identity considerations (a great case study on this is Joseph C. Anderson's "Eleven Thomas Abbotts of Berwick, Maine, and Vicinity," in The American Society of Genealogists 75th Anniversary Volume). The chapter on published sources is excellent and is a insightful foreground for authored source evaluation. "Part IV: Simplified Rules of Evidence" dives deeper into biological pedigree and evidence. All in all, reading this provides the genealogist with a early glimpse of standards being published and the processes from 1979 to 1989. Studying the history and metamorphosis of published standards is a must in the field.

Midnight Boom is one of the best albums by The Kills and the lyrics are pondering too. Have fun with it.

Noel C. Stevenson, Genealogical Evidence.

The Kills, Midnight Boom.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Kickin' it with Ron Arons, Edward R. Tufte and RJD2

I enjoy reading and studying new visual ways of displaying genealogical information, analysis and hypotheses. There are a few methods out there that are still applicable, but most have an expiration date, especially if they are connected to obsolete genealogical databases. Visual aids assist the reader when words fail or when words cannot do justice to what a well executed graph or table can do. I still draw my own land plats, neighborhood studies and such by hand because I have yet to find a computer program that fills that void or matches what is in my head. When I was hitting a wall with visualizing kinship connections, Paul Graham recommended the works of Edward R. Tufte. Within minutes of reading Envisioning Information by Tufte, I was fascinated and fixated on the examples, specifically on the page 31 example for the United States v. Gotti, et al., 1987 which shows the interconnected criminal activities of informants. I kept wondering how many record groups could be searched, how many timelines, how many repositories, how many associates....all the implications and ripple effects one table would have on research and analysis.

When I hit a stopping point in my own family research, I often look into the famous or infamous so that I can learn new regions, time periods and record groups. The Gotti associates example in Tufte's book reminded me of the book The Jews of Sing Sing by Ron Arons, in which he discusses the methodology of researching criminals. Both are creative ways of approaching and chasing down a genealogical problem or question. And the perfect tunes for chasing down ancestors and spacing out on graphs is RJD2's album The Colossus.

Ron Arons, The Jews of Sing Sing: Gotham, Gangsters and Gonuvim

Edward R. Tufte, Envisioning Information

RJD2, The Colossus

Monday, January 11, 2016

Kickin' it with Marsha Hoffman Rising and Ladytron

It finally got cold enough outside to put on some fuzzy boots and a Yas Queen sweatshirt over your normal Winter apparel and read some Marsha Hoffman Rising! The American Society of Genealogists just mailed their 75th Anniversary Volume (1940-2015) at the end of December and within is Rising's article "Trousers for Elijah: The Probable Identity of Elijah Robinson of Conewango Township, Cattaraugus County, New York," that originally appeared in TAG 63. This wonderful article will change how you review original records and the clues within that can be applied to establishing an identity.

The Family Tree Problem Solver: Proven Methods for Scaling the Inevitable Brick Wall by Rising is a necessary addition to any genealogical library regardless of skill level. Analytical tools, collateral evaluation, negative evidence and resolving conflicts within data are taught in a way that is approachable. I have the published 2005 version, but the 2011 version is the same and also available in Kindle.

The Family Tree Problem Solver by Marsha Hoffman Rising

Light & Magic by Ladytron (Just because.)

Monday, January 4, 2016

Kickin’ it with Sir Anthony Wagner and LCD Soundsystem

"All history is biased by accidents of documentation, the accident of whether evidence survives or not and the personal bias of those who have written things down." -- Sir Anthony Wagner, Pedigree and Progress: Essays in the Genealogical Interpretation of History, ix.

When we look hard enough at biographies and historical publications, we can see genealogy hiding in the corners or up close and personal within the narratives. Sir Anthony Wagner's 1975 publication, Pedigree and Progress, bias, theory, and the contribution of genealogy to history are discussed. Pages of pedigree provide the reader with what I would call pedigree trees; if you study them you can see the trends, the outliers, and the historical significance of these lineages and how they impact other pedigrees, generations and history. The study of bias itself leads to interesting theory and mindset. As genealogists, we automatically evaluate what is in front of us, optimistic that those independently created sources are truthful, and we test the voracity of records with hypothesis and analysis. Reading this book will shed fresh light on these ideas and possibly lead to new avenues within your research.

Although a passive mention, tribal claims of kinship (Maori Chief Tamarau's recitation of thirty four generations, fourteen hundred names that took over three days) is comparatively shown with Welsh and other heraldry -- which would be a hapu study within itself. Any publication that can slyly integrate a Polynesian example with essays on generally European and British Isles pedigrees will be near and dear to my heart.  

While reading Sir Anthony Wagner, I suggest listening to Sound of Silver by LCD Soundsystem. I picture Wagner being a fantastical orator and this album will bring it down a few levels to make you want to curl up and read rather than sit up straight in a drafty home. Enjoy this book for it will open your mind!

LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver