Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Genealogy Journals and Newsletters

As part of my membership in several genealogical societies I regularly receive copies of their newsletters and journals. I subscribe to a few other newsletters as well that are offered free by some family history groups. Not all of them always contain information that is pertinent to my own research or family but, inevitably, I do find something of value in each of them. So I keep paying my membership dues and I keep my free subscriptions up-to-date

I also subscribe to some genealogy magazines: Family Tree, Family Tree Magazine and, more recently, Going In-Depth.

Family Tree is based in the UK and its content is largely centred on subjects having to do with British family history. That’s great because most of my and my wife’s family lines originate in the British Isles, so it is very useful to keep abreast of data sources and research being done by others in the regions of interest to me.

Family Tree Magazine originates in the US and, again, has lots of interesting reading about research methodology. It is largely oriented to American subject matter, but that’s OK, too, as I have many ancestors who were born in locations across the country, and back to the 18th century.

Going In-Depth is also produced in the US and contains lots of information about American sources and families but is not restricted to that country. It has many articles written by authors from around the world and about subjects that are relevant to basic genealogical research methods. I just discovered this magazine and, so far, it looks very interesting.

What I wonder about is how people can keep track of the hundreds of stories and articles that are published in the dozens of journals and newsletters by the many genealogical societies and other historical groups. Not to mention the myriad books about genealogy! And how can they find articles that might be relevant to their own research when such material is published in obscure, or at least very distant journals or newsletters.

Michael Hait and Harold Henderson published a list of over four dozen journal titles in just the US, in their State & Regional Genealogical Society Journals, in 2013. It was mainly meant for authors to assist them in finding the appropriate venue for articles. It will also be good for people looking for material in specific regions. I do not know of a similar list for Canada or other parts of the world.

Another place to find published material is in the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) compiled by the Allen County Public Library. One can search the PERSI index on FindMyPast, for who, where and what. I am even listed on it as an author.

With all the blogs I read daily, as I wrote about in my blog post The World of Genealogy Blogs, I could spend most of my time reading about what other people are publishing with little left over for my own research or writing. It leads to the question of where I should look at publishing my own thoughts, ideas, stories and experiences. Where and how will people find my contributions when there are so many avenues to keep track of out there?

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy in several family history society journals. He has also served as an editor of two such publications. Wayne provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

What if...?

Recent news reports carried descriptions of a major storm system over parts of Maryland that dumper almost seven inches of rain in two hours and caused significant flooding. The region is, of course, one of the earliest locations where American colonies were first established.

So I wondered, what if a rainstorm such as the one that hit Maryland on 30 July 2016, hit the first colony established there in 1632. Or, what if such a weather front crossed over Jamestown after 1607. Would these sites have survived the flooding?
This image shows instantaneous IMERG­estimated rainfall rates at 8 p.m. EDT on July 30, 2016. It
depicts a strong band of heavy rain (an inch per hour in purple areas) extending east­west over northcentral Maryland extending southwestward into northern Virginia. CREDIT NASA/JAXA/Hal Pierce
Actually just the opposite happened in this region after colonist arrive. 

In 1585 new settlers came to Roanoke Island, in what is now Virginia, to begin a new life. According to a 1998 study, The Lost Colony and Jamestown Drought  (Stahle, et at, 1998) the years of 1587-89 saw the region experience a major drought.

The authors state that “Tree-ring data from Virginia indicate that the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island disappeared during the most extreme drought in 800 years (1587-1589) and that the alarming mortality and the near abandonment of Jamestown Colony occurred during the driest 7-year episode in 770 years (1606-1612). These extraordinary droughts can now be implicated in the fate of the Lost Colony and in the appalling death rate during the early occupations at Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America.”

What these kinds of studies say to genealogists is that consideration should be given to the role natural phenomena played in the lives of their ancestors. People were often forced to adjust to different and often harsh conditions or move to more hospitable places in order to survive. But sometimes those new habitats were not any more forgiving.

Stahle, David W.; et al. (1998). "The Lost Colony and Jamestown Droughts". Science. 280 (5363): 564–567.doi:10.1126/science.280.5363.564PMID 9554842

Caroline Lee Heuer; Jonathon T. Overpeck. "Drought: A Paleo Perspective – Lost Colony and Jamestown Drought". Ncdc.noaa.gov. Retrieved August 16, 2009

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy in several family history society journals. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The World of Genealogy Blogs

(Many of the following comments were first published as the Editor’s Comments in the February 2016 issue of Relatively Speaking, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Genealogical Society.)

I subscribe to dozens of genealogy-related blogs. Some posts arrive daily, others less frequently. They run the gamut from information about updates to commercial database websites to opinion pieces from other writers and researchers. Over the years they have proven to be a major resource for me — for information and for people involved in family history research. Some of those I read daily are shown along the right side of this blogsite.

Now I know that there other social media that are consuming the attention of people, with respect to genealogy as well with other personal activities. James Tanner pointed out the declining traffic on many blogs in a post last March, Updated Thoughts on Genealogy Blogging and Pi Day.
Notwithstanding the focus on other online sources, I have made, and continue to make many direct contacts with genealogists through their blogs. We have consulted together on the latest methodology, where new information might be found or just about general subjects of common interest. Some have helped me understand new techniques, such as DNA, or suggested where to go to find specific information about people, places or events. Several have written articles for me in the family history journals I have edited.

I am probably also one of the anachronisms James talks about in his post – I know my children certainly think so – but I cannot get excited about or find the time to be part of the daily, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WeChat or myriad other social media communication methods.

Discover Genealogy is my own blog and I try to post something weekly. I have also contributed to The Pharos Blog on occasion as well. Writing blog posts allows me to put ideas together, practice my writing skills (always a challenge) and seek opinions from others.

Blog subjects can be divided into several categories: those primarily containing news items; stories about the bloggers’ families; geographic-specific information; specialty subjects related to family history; opinions by experts on a variety of topics; or a combination of any of the above. The subject matter really is endless.

I have found blogs that are just collections of family stories mainly meant for members of those families. They are written as a way to preserve information about the writer/researcher’s ancestors and to disseminate it to other relatives. While they are not necessarily intended for public consumption many are nevertheless very entertaining and informative about events and places. They can also be great places to learn new techniques in searching.

Some posts come from commercial sites which have databases of varying types. They comment on what new lists are available online or which ones might have been updated.

Most posts are not of direct interest to my family tree but every once in a while I see some new data that is relevant to my research and I take a look. Often I find information about freebies, either special prices on access to data or where information can be downloaded for nothing.

Blog posts are easy to sign up to receive and just as easy to unsubscribe from if they do not prove to be of value. You can receive many posts directly in your email inbox and read them at your leisure. You can also comment back to most of the bloggers or ask questions of them right on their blogsites.

Most of us do not have the time to keep up with all the news and developments that come out of the genealogy world. Reading blogs offers a way to learn about: new databases or additions to existing ones; new research techniques; meetings, conferences or webinars; email lists or other ways in which family historians can directly communicate with each other; and who knowledgeable people are for different parts of the world or for various specialty subjects.

From the blog posts we can often link to various webpages or publications that might be helpful to our own research. Each one is like a whole new newsletter. I have to say many are much better ways of communicating specific types of ideas or information than local newsletters or journals.

A comprehensive list of over 3,000 genealogy-related blogs can be found at GeneaBloggers.
A few bloggers highlight what they think have been the best of recent blog posts. I peruse these lists very closely and almost always find at least one worth reading. Often a post will lead me to sign up for ongoing posts in a new blogsite. Among those who regularly list the week’s best blogs is Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings. He also lists the “pick posts” of other bloggers, those posts thought of as most worth reading. Randy’s most recent summary can be found at Best of the Genea-Blogs - 28 August to 3 September 2016.

Since you are reading this post, you are obviously tuned into genealogy blogs. You might even read many more than I do. If you know of people who have not discovered this resource, let them know they should have a look at blogs. They will thank you for pointing out sites that were of interest and helpful to them.

Some of the blogs of note by Canadians like me include:
·         Gail Dever – Genealogy a la carte
·         Elizabeth Lapointe – Genealogy Canada
·         John D. Reid – Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections
·         Lorine McGinnis Schulze – Olive Tree Genealogy Blog       

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy in several family history society journals. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated.