The Online Genealogist

John Brugliera

Archive for the category “Opinion”

Finding Your Roots… and twigs and branches and leaves and bark…

FYR 02

Nice interview with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in the Fall 2014 edition of NEHGS’ American Ancestors magazine.

FYR 01

The great news is that PBS, Ancestry (main sponsor), New England Historical Genealogical Society (main researchers) have agreed to do another three seasons of his Finding Your Roots!  They’ve already got dozens of guests chosen and confirmed.

While I have a few issues with the show (research “shortcuts”, effect on professional clients’ expectations), I find it extremely interesting and well done.  I’ve learned a lot, a good chunk to do with DNA.  We’re even much more mixed up than I originally thought!

You’d surmise that a former programmer such as myself would have no problem understanding all of that, but not so.  Programming is structured while DNA as a whole seems abstract in comparison.  The DNA itself is obviously structured, but the interpretation…

Actually, genealogy and computer programming are similar in many ways.  The debugging of programs highly resembles attacking a genealogical brick wall. 

Mr. Gates also said that NONE of his guests regretted discovering their ancestry OR were sorry they were on the show.  He was being very modest here, as I’m sure MOST of the guests have been affected quite profoundly by their experience.

Said Gates, “It’s been very rewarding.  It makes me feel like Santa Claus, like I’m making it Christmas every day for the people lucky enough to be chosen as guests…”.

Researchers also feel that way upon finding a long-hidden genealogical gem.  When we DON’T, it’s time to hang up the RootsMagic and try crocheting or stamp collecting.

You can check out Season Two episodes here…

FYR 03

Yep, just like unwrapping a present from “Skip”; as he is often referred to in the interview by NEHGS President Brenton Simons.  They even did it where some of the show takes place – in NEGHS’ Treat Rotunda, which I’ve yet to visit.  Because I’m usually running right to their manuscripts, microfilm or books!

I’m sure the main rush of being on the show is getting that ancestral information – all at once!  As researchers, we tend to unwrap a number of small presents over a period of time, while Mr. Gates’ guests open up a giant one during the one-hour show!

Anyway, props to “Finding Your Roots” and the informative American Ancestors article.  Henry Louis Gates, Jr. seems like a guy you could just hang out with, chatting for hours about genealogy.

And I’m still working on the concept of an Instant Connections game show, mentioned in my last post.  It’ll be a combo of Love Connection, Joker’s Wild, Name That Tune and instant oatmeal.  Uh, for the instant part.  No takers yet, but give it time.  I’ve got 11 years!

Well, if I can’t create game shows, I CAN research your family history, as I am… The Online Genealogist!!

JohnBrugliera@theonlinegenealogist.com

TOG WEB

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Hal O. Wene and other fitting names for All Saints’ Eve

The subject of onomatology has always interested me.  Not so much the origins of surnames, but more so fueling the wordplay fun you can have on holidays such as Halloween.

While I couldn’t actually find Mr. Wene in any census records or city directory listings, I discovered more than enough of seasonally scary names…

Like Mary Scary, with husband George and son Charles, living in Boston, 1940.

Scary

How about Henry Horror in Allegheny, PA 1880 with mother Jane and two sisters?

Horror

Many Native Americans had the most colorful names, which usually involved animals or earth elements.

Ghost Head

Ghost Head in South Dakota 1900 fell into neither category, opting for spiritual decapitation instead there.

Then things got a little HAIRY in Paterson, NJ…

Wolf, Man

As here, the twelve year-old’s file-heading…  Wolf, Man!

And yes, there are plenty of creepy families in genealogical records.

Creep

Jennie, Anna & Helen in Philadelphia 1940… Whatta bunch of CREEPS!

Ten years earlier in Warren, Rhode Island…

Zombie

The Zombies!  With Anna being the HEAD of the family.  And Rob Zombie’s real name is Robert Bartleh Cummings.  Sorry, all you White Zombie fans.

And going back to 1940 for a very thirsty New Jersey family in Morris County.

Dracula

George and Mary Dracula, with little daughter Dolores Dracula.  Ya think she got teased in school at all, especially around this time of year?

And we can’t talk about ANY Halloween family without mention of…

Addams

Yeah, I had to go for 411Locate to find the pair of them.  Though they’re current, it’s both Gomez and Morticia here, along with their double “D” spelling of Addams.  A comic trifecta!

It was a similar deal for this duo.  Still eerie to find them together; in Idaho, of all places.  Found on PeopleFinders, of all places.  Cue up the Dick Dale-like intro theme!

Munsters

There were several Herman and Lilly Munsters in census records, but not together like this.  <Insert classic Herman laugh here>

All right, so those last two pairs were probably a goof, though I couldn’t resist adding them here.

And how’s THIS for a gravely resting-place name?

Sam E Terry

From Find A Grave, of course!

Then there’s another head-scratcher from Ancestry’s mysterious U.S. Public Records Index.

Casper tf Ghost

Is this even a real source??  Their “original data” doesn’t tell me where Mr. Ghost’s info was extracted from.  But this is a whole post topic in itself!

So, can we safely assume that Casper’s middle name is “The Friendly”?

And one of my all-time favorite bad pun names…

Frank

Frankie, Baby!!  In Minneapolis, 1920.

There were way too many Stephen Kings and Alice Coopers in census records to include here.  Heyyyy, I’ll feature them in my Halloween 2015 post!

Non-Dislaimer Clause:  None of these names were manufactured fictionally by me.  Click on any of the snippets.  They link to the originals.  They are all “real”.  And as often is the case, ya just can’t make this stuff up!

Another thing I will NEVER make up is genealogy research!  I may be extremely silly at times, but when it comes to family history research, I am DEAD SERIOUS.  Get it?  DEAD Seri- oh, just hire me and you’ll see…

JohnBrugliera@theonlinegenealogist.com

TOG WEB

An open letter to cemetery vandals

Eaton

I don’t understand this.  Why do you feel the need to steal from the final resting place of someone’s wife, grandfather, infant daughter?  Why do you take such enjoyment in destroying these historical markers of our fore-bearers?  Or does that even enter your mind at all – as you’re breaking an 18th century headstone or tagging a beautiful family monument?

The people buried there could be my relatives.  And who knows; they could even be YOUR relatives.  Did you even think of that?  Oh, that’s right – you WEREN’T thinking.

So, how would you like that; having some drunk or stoned dude taking a bat to your little sister’s headstone?  SLAM!  “Outta the PARK!!  The crowd goes wild!!”  Does the mere thought of that leave you with a sick feeling in your stomach or do you just shrug it off and mumble “Whatever.”?

“Oh, but it’s usually just kids being kids!”

StarPress

So, is that you’re excuse as well?  “Oh, I was just messin’ around with my bros!  We meant no disrespect!”  How can you say that?  Vandalizing a cemetery has got to be one of the most disrespectful acts you could possibly do.  “But I was drunk and only having some fun!  I just got caught up in all the excitement!”  No, you just didn’t CARE.  Why?  Because destroying 27 headstones is still called “cemetery mischief”.

WNDU

When you’re caught and you will be, you’ll probably be given the usual punishment of cemetery clean-up or other community service, which is surely not enough.  You should also have to assist in researching the family history of some of those people you had absolutely NO regard for.  Kind of like a Who Do You Think You Are? meets Scared Straight to put a FACE on that deceased person you obviously had NO respect for.

Maybe after seeing these people come to life, you’ll realize that they WERE people, and not merely big stones that come out of the ground in a graveyard, primed for tipping.  Though I will never understand how you could go on a cemetery-destroying spree, maybe YOU can understand what you’re actually doing when you and your buds topple those headstones.  As it’s almost never just ONE you destroy.

In all fairness, I’m sure “Vandalising the Local Cemetery” wasn’t on your To-Do List that night and it was more like an idiotic non-decision you and your friends foolishly made.  Therein lies the problem.

Graveyard Desecration wasn’t high up in your Things You Should NOT Do List.  Because NOT Destroying a Cemetery needs be engrained and automatic for us all.

Remorse may eventually sink in for you the next few days.  But then comes another one of your lame-ass excuses – the king of them all…  “We were bored!”  I say again – I don’t understand this.

And by the way, two sets of my Italian great-grandparents are buried at a family plot in Brockton’s Calvary Cemetery, just down the street from Union Cemetery in the first article.  Fortunately, if you attempted to take down that towering gravestone, you would be justifiably flattened by it.

End note: I had to hold back some while writing this post and personally, the punishment would be FAR more severe for anyone convicted.  I have NO tolerance for such ignorance and stupidity, as I believe those caught should be made an example of for others.  So that we will NOT automatically refer to such mindless destruction as “cemetery mischief”.

Please pass this along, as Halloween is the time of year when much of the cemetery vandalism occurs.  Many cemeteries now take (online) donations for maintenance and upkeep, so if you feel as strongly about this as I do, help out a local cemetery with a few bucks if you can.  Because usually – the nicer the cemetery; the lesser the vandalism.

Besides writing letters to lowlifes, I can also research YOUR family history!

JohnBrugliera@theonlinegenealogist.com

TOG WEB

The Online Genealogist sez “Know Your Geography!”

Burlington-Plattsburgh

I don’t usually call out others on their blog postings, but being the huge map hound that I am and more so given the source, I just had to here.

G-Bank

And my comment…

G-Bank 2

My question is this…  If a great point is made using a poor example, does that bring the credibility of that point down a few notches?

After knowing the geography, is it really such a great point; especially coming from a blogger that represents a subscription website featuring newspapers from all over the country?

G-Bank 3

Given Mr. Kemp’s impressive resume, shouldn’t he have known this and chosen a better example for his sorta-almost-kinda-great point?

Now, if this had been penned by a newbie genealogist or obviously-hired content writer {ahem}, I wouldn’t even be blogging about it.  But we’re barraged with so many tips and the like online, we have to really be selective in what to use…and what to TOSS.

Sorry, Tom – I’m not meaning to put you in front of the virtual firing squad or anything, but your post happens to be a PERFECT example of the point I’m trying to make here.  Which will hopefully be great.  “Any last words?…”

 

And if you don’t know that Burlington, Vermont is in Chittenden County, but Chittenden, Vermont is in Rutland County or that St. Louis and East St. Louis are in different states, you may need to hire ME – The Online Genealogist!

TOG WEB

johnbrugliera@theonlinegenealogist.com

Who Do You Think You Are? Inside scoop!!!

BoDonaldson

Wasn’t that Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods’ second-highest-charting single, which reached #15 on Billboard Magazine’s US Top Pop 100 chart in the summer of 1974?  It was a follow-up to their #1 Billy Don’t Be A Hero that spring.  THAT Who Do You Think You Are??

Then that’s it.  That’s all I know about it.

Anyway, there’s supposed to be this show on television – the name of which escapes me now – that’s a cross between Roots and Antiques Roadshow with a heavy dose of The Amazing Race.  But subscribing to basic cable, I don’t get the “special channel” it’s on.  (Didn’t it used to be on NBC??)

But I see on their website, which shall remain nameless, the first three full episodes of the season.  So I watched.  All three.  Not at once.  Consecutively.

WDYTHY

[Meanwhile, after viewing 135 minutes of the afore-non-mentioned show…]

Wow.  Unfortunately, the “easily hopping from one set of original records to the next” isn’t a reality for most of us.  Yeah, we HOPE to get there “one day”, but by the time we’ve climbed up several generations, that’s dozens of locations spanning either the country, or most likely, the globe.

Anyway, that’s what struck me the most after watching the shows.  And that some genealogy newbie will assume it’s “that simple” and quickly done, when it usually isn’t.  Which, to me, is the best part of genealogy!

The hunt and subsequent challenge of piecing together pieces and parts of a particular person.  Giving them a biography that they would’ve never had otherwise, as most were certainly not famous or extraordinary. “Jus’ normal folk like you and me!”

I always wonder if they’re “somewhere” cheering us on, like they “know” we’re researching them.  I’ve had some INEXPLICABLE genealogical finds over the years, where I’m left thinking “Getting a little help, perhaps?”  Hmmmmm…  (Whole other blog post…)

And now you’re left going “What the %@!!# is he talkin‘ about?”, as I seemed to have gotten off track there somewhat.  Though, I’m sure you’ve all had at least one of those moments.

…Oh yeah, opinion of the shows – which I fully refuse to promote for free!!…

Eh, they were OK.

 

And if you think genealogy is also OK, but you can’t fly around the world to research, like on that SHOW there; hire ME!!  I’ll do the virtual flying around for you!!  (And yes, despite the naysayers, it can be done.)

TOG WEB

johnbrugliera@theonlinegenealogist.com

 

The Online Genealogist is tired of hearing “Only 10% of the genealogy records can be researched online”

CGS_Iceberg                 Many thanks to CGS!

Nearly any time a “traditional” genealogist bashes the majority of research being done online, this is often used to back up their argument.  “Yeah!  Just a TIP of the ICEBERG!!”

Where are the citations to back up this wonderful graphic?  How is the tip size being calculated?  Where is the research and study data?  I’ve heard no crunching numbers.  And who keeps passing this along as fact?

First off, the 10% figure is nowhere to be found in this blog post.  Must be one of those extras added as the tale traveled.  Looks to be less than that on the iceberg itself, but as I won’t be breaking out my compass and protractor; 10% will work.

And I believe we’re strictly talking about United States records here?  The worldwide figure for records online is probably a tiny .0010% number.

With that, how accurate do I believe the iceberg portrayal to be?  Oh, about 10%.

First off, did you notice the date of that blog post?  Being into genealogy, of course you did!

27 Mar 2009

This was created over five years ago.  As a poster.  Which is still being sold online.

Genealogy records are being digitized as I type.  (And surely much much faster.)  Can you count how many have been added over the last 5 years?

No, I didn’t think so.  Neither can I, but I’d bet the big bucks that massive mystery number will at least double going into the next 5 years!

So, what percentage would I give the iceberg tip now?25Seriously!

But wait – it’s going to grow even more!…

There should be adjusted percentage points when the USEFULNESS of each record set is taken into account.  Which records will be most beneficial for the largest number of researchers?

Many of the biggies are online now.  Most US censuses, a nice variety of vital records, lots of city directories, a huge selection of newspapers and hundreds of wonderful historic maps are easily accessible via the internet for the viewing!

Q:  Which would be more likely to help us in our research, the 1880 Federal Census for Chicago -or- Member Directory of the Greene Street Philatelist Club of Beaufort, South Carolina, Autumn, 1727?

A:  Duh!

Q:  Shouldn’t census records alone make that iceberg tip even larger?

A:  Why, yes.  Yes, they should.

With the Usefulness Factor included, how large should the iceberg tip be NOW?

50Really!

Not much of an iceberg tip now, is it?

There’s more information online than you think.  WAY more.  I know this because I keep finding more things online!

How many have gone to ancestry.com, typed in a name, got only a couple of search results and then cried “Online genealogy researching SUCKS!”.  Or they do a quickie Google search, not realizing how much of the internet Google can actually get at?  Isn’t it something like…10%?

No big secret to online family history research.  You have to know where to look.  And be able to get there quickly.  Oh yeah, and know genealogy.

OK, so maybe that 50% is slightly high, but regardless – that iceberg tip is no longer a valid analogy for online genealogy research material availability.  (You knew I had to be going somewhere with this fuzzy math.)

In any case, the above outdated and misleading poster needs to be TOSSED!!!!!

Or modified, at the very least…

Genealogy Research 2014with apologies to Elizabeth Gorrell

Others say it’s only 5%…*sigh*

 

If you don’t believe this, put me to the test.  I’m always up for a challenge!

 TOG WEB

johnbrugliera@theonlinegenealogist.com

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