To use or not use a published family history?

My father-in-law gifted me with his copy of “The Ellerbe Family History” by Ronald William Ellerbe, published in 1986. [1] The book is “a compilation and interpretation of all of the discovered references to the Ellerbys/Ellerbes/Ellerbees in America.”[2]   References are listed at the end of the book.  Specific references are not tied to each fact or story.  I consider the information as assertions and seek to prove, or not prove, those assertions.  In this post, I present background information and describe my research approach for the Ellerbee family tree.  Future blog posts will report selected findings related to specific people and families.

family history book image

The work of others is useful in genealogy.  The Board for Certification of Genealogists addresses the issue [3]:

“Genealogists ethically, lawfully, prudently, and respectfully use other’s information and products. . . . Their data collection includes (a) providing full attribution to the originator, (b) accurately representing the originator’s information, and (c) honestly assessing the information’s nature and significance.”

Another relevant concept is evidence correlation.  Compare and contrast items to “discover parallels, patterns, and inconsistencies, including points at which evidence items agree, conflict, or both.” [4]

Chapter 14 of the Ellerbe book outlines our branch of the family, i.e. those who spell the surname ELLERBEE. The book’s author believes that we descend from a John Ellerby, “who died in Anson County, North Carolina, in 1752.”[5]  Although not the author’s primary line, I commend his extensive reporting.  He described four branches of the Ellerbee family:  Upson County, Georgia; Bulloch County, Georgia; Burke County, Georgia; and Tishomingo County, Mississippi. [6] My husband’s specific branch appears to be the Burke County, Georgia, branch with the patriarch being John Ellerbee (1808-1884).

When I started working on the Ellerbee family tree, I relied heavily on the Ellerbe book.  Specifically, I copied names and dates.  Then, I hunted for sources.  Whenever possible, I linked sources to copied information.  I can verify much of the information reported by Mr. Ellerbe.  I added 30+ years of updated information to my personal family tree.  I remain impressed by the amount of work that went into this book, especially since the work predates the internet!

Now, as I begin to clean-up my Ellerbee family tree, I have decided to step back. Instead of using the book as ‘fact’ and attempting to prove those facts, I temporarily put that information aside.  Previously, I asked “Does this information fit what’s in the book?”  This may not be the best approach.  I need to look more critically at each piece of information.  A new set of questions emerge:

  • Does this piece of information fit other information ?
  • If so, how?
  • If not, what are the differences? Can I explain those differences?

After answering those questions, then compare information to what is in the book.

Pretend that I am the subject of a genealogy television show. Typing my father-in-law’s name (Jerry D. Ellerbee), birth year (1938) and birthplace (Texas) in a online genealogy database reveals:

  • Texas Birth Index for Jerry Donald Ellerbee[7]: born 16 January 1938 in Jefferson County.  Parents: James Dreebon Ellerbee and Clara Doris Simmons.
  • 1940 Census[8]: 2-year-old Jerry D. Ellerbee , grandson, and 25-year-old Doris Ellerbee living with head of household,   Walter Ellerbee, age 67, and  wife, Katherine D. Ellerbee, age 60.

Generation 2 & 3:  James Dreebon Ellerbee. Name from Texas Birth Index and interview with Jerry Donald Ellerbee.

  • Texas Death Certificate for James Drebon Ellerbee[9]. Born 30 March 1915 in Texas. Died 29 April 1973 in Lufkin, Angelina county, Texas. Parents: James Walter Ellerbee and Katherine Powell.
  • 1920 Census (closest to James Drebon’s birth year)[10]: Dreebon Ellerbee, son, age 4, born Texas, in Cherokee county, Texas with J.W. Ellerbee, head, 48, born Georgia; wife, Kate, 40, born Texas; 4 siblings and Wright R. Ellerbee, 44, brother of J.W. Ellerbee.
  • Texas Death Certificate for J.W. Ellerbee.[11] Died 9 September 1942. Born 7 December 1872, Georgia. Father: Jim Ellerbee. Mother: Elizabeth Hayes.

Generation 3 & 4:  Click on J. W. Ellerbee in 1920 census to find record closest to his birth year of 1872:

  • 1880 census[12]: 7-year-old James W. Eleby, son, born  Georgia, living in Damascus, Georgia, with Elizabeth A. Eleby, age 33, head, widowed, born Alabama plus 5 siblings and 67-year-old Moses Hayes (female), mother [of head of household, Elizabeth], born Georgia.  Suggests that  Elizabeth’s husband, Jim Ellerbee, died before 1880.

Generation 4:  Click on Elizabeth A. Eleby for next census record.

  • 1870 census[13]: Miller county, Georgia. John J. Eleby, age 31, born  Georgia; Elizabeth , age 27, born Georgia;  5 presumed children, ages 4 months to 11 years.

Clicking on John J. Eleby and Elizabeth Eleby yields no immediate hints.  Clicking on oldest presumed children, Sarah E. Eleby, age 11, and William G. Eleby, age 9, also yields no quick hints except to other online family trees. My initial quick search ends here.  Information gleaned from this quick search:

  • Jerry Donald Ellerbee. Born 16 January 1938 in Jefferson county, Texas. Parents: James Dreebon Ellerbee and Clara Doris Simmons.
  • James Dreebon Ellerbee. Born 30 March 1915 in Texas. Died 29 April 1973 in Lufkin, Angelina county, Texas. Parents: James Walter Ellerbee and Katherine Powell.
  • James Walter Ellerbee. Born 7 December 1872 in Georgia. Died 9 September 1942 in Wells, Cherokee county, Texas.  Parents Jim Ellerbee and Elizabeth Hayes.
  • Jim Ellerbee (a.k.a. John J. Ellerbee, possibly John James or James John), born about 1839 in Georgia. Wife, Elizabeth Hayes, born about 1843.
    • Ages of children in 1870 were 4 months, 2 years, 3 years, 9 years and 11 years. Possible explanation for gap of 6 years (about 1861 to about 1867) is Jim’s absence during Civil War.
    • Alternative explanation for gap: Elizabeth was Jim’s 2nd

With this information in hand, return to Ellerbe book, pages 14-41 to 14-45:

  • _____ Jerry Donald Ellerbee not mentioned.
  • 7977 Dreebon Ellerbee.  [Son of]
  • 7945  James Walter Ellerbee (1872 -1942) and
    • 7970 Kate _____________.
    • [James Walter son noof ]
  • 7917 James John Ellerbee (1836-1877) and
    • Elizabeth Hayes (2nd wife). Married 2nd November 9, 1865, Georgia. *New information suspected but not confirmed during quick record search.
    • 1st wife: Sarah Bailey, married 1858, Calhoun County, Georgia. Died ca. 1863. *New information not found during quick record search. To be confirmed.
    • [James John Ellerbee son of]
  • 7910 John Ellerbee (1808 – 1885) and
    • 7911 Martha ________, 1st wife
    • 7912 Elizabeth _______, 2nd wife
    • * Information about John Ellerbee and his wives did not pop up during my initial quick online search on one website.

Quick online search of first four generations followed same basic lineage as Ellerbe book.  Kate’s maiden name of Powell was added.  The rest of the information requires more research and sources.  I now have confidence in at least some information in the Ellerbe book.

For more information:

Published Family Histories: An Under-Tapped Resource by Susan Kriete, April 26, 2018.  https://www.nypl.org/blog/2018/04/26/published-family-histories

Finding and Using Published Genealogies by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, CG, No date.   https://www.genealogy.com/articles/research/77_carmack.htm

Using Published Genealogies by David A. Fryxell, August 2, 2011. Published in November 2011 issue of Family Tree Magazine.  https://www.familytreemagazine.com/premium/using-published-genealogies/

Reflection:

I have encountered multiple published and private family histories. I approach each with some skepticism.  Sometimes, I work from the published history and attempt to connect my family to it. The desired connection isn’t always there.  I now try to look at each data set independently as I look for consistent and inconsistent information. Am I duplicating the works of others? Probably.  But, in the long run, I can identify consistencies and differences. Hopefully, my blog posts have enough detail so future researchers do not need to search for the same records.

What I learned:  Different approaches to work done by others.

What helped:  Ready access to online genealogy databases and a print copy of family history.

What didn’t help:  Trying to clear my mind and temporarily “forget” what is in the Ellerbe book.

TO-DO:  Continue critical examination of information related to this family in print sources.

SOURCES:

[1] Ronald William Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History (Baltimore, Maryland: Gateway Press, Inc., 1986).

[2]  Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, p. i.

[3] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy standards, 2nd ed. (Washington, D.C.: Ancestry.com, 2019), p. 16.

[4] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy standards, p. 27.

[5] Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, p. 14-1.

[6] Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, p.  14-2.

[7] Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, “1938 Births,” digital index, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed, downloaded, printed 15 July 2019), p. 561. entry for Ellerbee, Jerry Donald.

[8] 1940 U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, pop. sch., , enumeration district (ED) 37-31, p. 14B, family #258, Jerry D. Ellerbee; digital images, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 15 July 2019); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Roll T627_4005.

[9] “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” digital images, Ancestry  http://www.ancestry.com   : downloaded & printed 15 July 2019), entry for James Drebon Ellerbee; citing Texas Department of Health, Austin, TX.

[10] 1920 U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, pop. sch., Justice Precinct 8, enumeration district (ED) 35, p. 14A, family #253, Dreebon Ellerbee; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.comhttp://www.ancestry.com : accessed & printed 15 July 2019); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Roll: T625_1787.

[11] Texas Death Certificates, 1903-1982, digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : downloaded & printed 15 July  2019, entry for  J. W. Ellerbee, citing Texas Department of Health, Austin, TX.

[12] 1880 U.S. Census, Early Co, Georgia, pop. sch., Damascus, enumeration district (ED) 026, p. 214A, family # 242, James W. Eleby [Ellerbee]; digital images, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 15 July 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication T9, Roll 144.

[13] 1870 U.S. Census, Miller County, Georgia, population schedule, p. 15 (ink pen), family #120, John J. Eleby; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, viewed, downloaded 25 July 2019); National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.  microfilm publication M593_165.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2019

Share your work with a family history scrapbook

Earlier this month, I presented an Ellerbee Family History scrapbook to my father-in-law in honor of his 80th birthday.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAPA!!

This project is my 4th genealogical scrapbook, 3 traditional paper format scrapbooks and 1 digital scrapbook. The projects evolved as a different way to present information about a family. As mentioned in earlier blogs, I wrote a narrative history about my dad’s family in 2012. I then promised my in-laws to research each of their families. The first two projects, both paper scrapbooks, resulted.

Project #1:  Simmons Family Scrapbook.

Paper scrapbook created for my father-in-law, about his mother’s family. He knew his grandfather as Clay Simmons but little else about the family. My quest, then, focused on discovering his Simmons’ heritage. That quest led to our first genealogy field trip to east Texas (a topic for another blog post!). HIs grandfather’s full name was Henry Clay Simmons.  Ancestors include James Aster Simmons, the first Baptist minister in Trinity County, Texas, circa 1856.  The Simmons family traces back to Virginia (ca. 1745) and the birth of a man named William Simmons. I used different color schemes for each generation.

Migration of Simmons Family
Suggestion:  Add a name to each place and date. 

Project #2:  Johnson-Reed Scrapbook. 

Paper scrapbook created for my mother-in-law, whose maiden name is Johnson. I used a book of floral design papers as background. Rather than an in-depth look at a single family line, Nana Linda’s scrapbook embraces direct ancestors of both Papa (Horace) Johnson and Nana (Venette) Reed for 4-5 generations. Several years ago, my in-laws pulled out on old suitcase full of family pictures. Some of those pictures found their way into this scrapbook.  A brief biography of a distant cousin who founded an Arkansas town added to the family tree.

Holcomb-Reed_graph for blog

Sample page from mother-in-law’s scrapbook.  Diagram shows relationship between two families. 

Project #3:  Posten Family. 

Digital scrapbook for my 90+ year-old aunt; presented to her during our trip to Pennsylvania in August 2017. Our family tree extends to our oldest known direct ancestor, Thomas Postens (born 1782, New Jersey – died 1854, Pennsylvania).  During my childhood, we traveled to Pennsylvania every other year.  Trips became less frequent after Dad’s mother died in 1964, so this scrapbook focused on the more recent story of my immediate family. Page themes included weddings, three generations of military service and my sons. A shoebox of pictures inherited from my mother yielded pictures of Grandma Posten with me and my siblings. My aunt readily identified when and where each picture had been taken.  My oldest son bears a definite resemblance to my dad and Grandpa Posten when they were in their early 20s.

Project #4:  Ellerbee Family Scrapbook.

Paper scrapbook created for my father-in-law. I promised this one as supplement to Simmons Family Scrapbook. Years ago, Papa shared his copy of an Ellerbe family history (Ronald William Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc., 1986). The book represents an extensive history of multiple family lines with similar spellings of the surname.  A boon to this genealogist! This scrapbook focuses on our direct family line, Ellerbee. Recent contact with a second cousin yielded copies of pages from a family Bible published in 1876. Yes, I gave credit for sharing those photos! Review of documents led me to a new appreciation of one widow’s journey from southwestern Georgia to eastern Texas in the early 1880s with 6 children aged 3 to 14.

Consider a scrapbook to share your next genealogical project. Choose a method – paper or digital.  Time, resources and cost determine the size and method. Begin with a smaller project such as persons who fought in a specific war, a single generation or location, persons with the same given name through multiple generations, or stories about people in a family picture. The process of creating scrapbook pages can even help crack a brick wall! I used a single branch of the extended family for two of my projects. Think creatively about how to present information such as a census record.

census example from scrapbookSimple format, band of design paper on a solid background.  Copy of 1910 Census, Cherokee County, Texas for W. J. Simmons, wife, Janie, and 4 of their 9 children.  Small leaf sticker pointed to the family. Transcription of entry for W.J. Simmons is on next page for easy reading.  In 1900, W.J. & family lived in Coltharp, Texas, a town which no longer exists. Picture of historic marker and information about the town followed the 1900 census record.

Family pictures, Bible records, and original documents are ideal for this type of project. Copies of these items abound in all of my scrapbook projects.

Check the cost of your chosen method. For a paper scrapbook, you will need the scrapbook itself, paper, plastic sleeves and tape. Use archival quality, acid-free paper and sleeves.  Buy tape labelled for scrapbooking.  A scrapbook kit provides these items , except for the tape, plus stickers and other add-ons.   For a digital scrapbook, compare cost and other requirements such as minimum number of pages. Most offer templates and other helpful hints. Create your own pages or ask for help from one of their designers. Once the digital scrapbook is created, how will you distribute it? Digital and print copies are both options. Consider cost of postage to mail a print copy of the finished product to you and/or others.

For either method, allow plenty of time. The first two paper scrapbooks took about 6 months each because I could only work on them 2-4 hours or less per week. I had done little research on the Simmons family, subject of the first scrapbook, so gathering information took more time than for the other scrapbooks. Our scheduled visit to Pennsylvania dictated the time frame for the 20-page digital scrapbook which took about 20-24 hours total to create. The last scrapbook entailed two weeks of intensive work, about 30-40 hours per week.

For a comparison of Digital scrapbooking websites:   https://www.comparakeet.com/digital-scrapbooking-sites/

Paper scrapbooks. Choose size of scrapbook. Sizes range from 4 inches x 6 inches to 12 inches x 12 inches. So many choices of papers and colors! Choose a theme such as color, location or event.  When starting, purchase a theme kit or packet of design papers plus complementary or contrasting solid color pages. Allow time and money for multiple trips to the craft or scrapbook store! Wait for sales!!  Scrapbook specialty stores often sell unique papers that cost slightly more than papers found in craft stores. Check online sources for paper and other items. Some online sources allow you to order single pages. I ordered a Civil War Confederate packet and a Korean War theme packet online. Take pictures of your finished product.  You can then share these digital pictures with others in your family.

Develop a tentative table of contents, by section and/or page. The overall purpose of your project guides the sequence. In general, each section of my paper scrapbooks represented one generation.  The section started with a printed family group sheet followed by pictures, census records and other documents. Final pages in the section told a story about a specific person or event through local newspaper reports, church/ county histories or a summary written by me.

One challenge is finding creative ways to present various documents.  For a multi-generational family history, begin with a pedigree chart using a pre-printed, fill-in-the blank family tree form. Blank forms with handwritten entries personalize the scrapbook. Add stick-on items. Buy theme-based scrapbook packages at craft stores or online. I have jewels, flowers, letters of the alphabet, U.S. state decals, ribbon and leaves to add as accents. For the most part, I used fairly simple designs and shapes.

page 14_John Ellibee_Martha Love_marriage record_Ellerbee scrapbook_Jan 2018

Copy of  Marriage record for John Ellibee & Martha Love, 1842.  Full page from marriage record (with red circle around entry), enlarged view of actual entry, and a handwritten label identifying the document. Solid color background with coordinating bands of design paper at top and bottom of page. 

As you accumulate items, think about the information in or about the item. What is the most effective way to present the item? There are at least 3 men named William Green Ellerbee among the ancestors so green paper backs their stories. Use a state outline behind a document. Military symbols accompany copies of service records. A picture of a schoolhouse goes well with a copy of a school record. I wrote a newspaper-type story about a genealogical brick wall and presented it on (yes, you guessed it!) brick wall paper. A death certificate or tombstone picture on black paper with the words “In Memoriam’  is powerful. If available, add a picture of the person to a copy of a funeral notice. Add your own handwritten note to a census record – “6 year old Noah is listed as son but it is unlikely that 60-year-old Martha is his mother. Still looking for parents of Noah.” Sometimes, simply present the item on a solid color piece of paper.

Use contrasting and coordinating colors. The color wheel guides this concept. Complimentary colors, such as red and green, appear directly across from one another. Analogous colors, such as green and yellow, appear close to each other. Examples of various color schemes:

color wheel 2

Link to source for  Color Wheel

Choose a base color for your project, then expand by adding different color schemes for each page or section. For my mother-in-law’s scrapbook, a pink and maroon flower-themed paper guided color choices for the rest of the book.

linda scrapbook sample title page

Are source citations important for scrapbooks? I believe that the answer is, “Yes!” Plan space for citation when setting the page format. I added source citations for census records and other documents. For photos of the family Bible, my citation reads “Photos of pages generously provided by .  .  .  .   .  .,  descendant of . . . . .”   Relate the provenance of the item in the photograph:  “Handwritten journal kept by Grandmother Bailey, found at Grandmother’s house by Judith Bailey, current owner of the journal.” Format source citations for other records, such as census records, according to current genealogical standards.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hiReflection:

These scrapbooks were time consuming, medium difficulty, rewarding projects. I had little personal experience with scrapbooking before I created the first one. My husband is a graphic artist who offered constructive criticism. Now, I regularly scour local craft stores for sales on scrapbooking items. I started with one family history themed scrapbook packet and bought multiple single pages. I now have 6 boxes of scrapbook paper in assorted themes, designs and colors. Last summer, I bought 2 boxes of scrapbook papers and accessories, worth about $70, for $10 at a garage sale. For the latest project, I bought 10 design specific pages but only used 4 of them. There are more stories in the documents!

What helped:  Paper scrapbooks done in 2013 & 2014. Bought scrapbook supplies at various times during the past 4 years and only when on sale! Identified general color scheme of black, blue and green before starting current project. High quality copies of 3 pictures done at office supply store. Searched internet for page ideas. Genealogical research essentially complete on family before starting most recent project with most documents in paper or digital files.

What didn’t help:  With 1st project, no experience with scrapbooking. No clear format in mind, minimal planning. Genealogical research ongoing throughout 1st project. This project — home printer malfunction halfway through. Printer was down for 4 days while we waited for part. Good news – we didn’t have to buy a new printer! Used printer downtime to create items on computer and plan rest of scrapbook pages. Started creating pages in the middle of the family line, which was a little confusing.

Suggestions for future:  Tentatively plan sequence of sections and pages before starting. Inventory materials on-hand for ideas. Complete genealogical research as much as possible before starting scrapbook but remain open to new ideas or documents that may surface. Continue to look for scrapbook page ideas.

For more information, find print books about scrapbooking at your local bookstore or public library.

Websites you may find helpful (in no particular order):

Scrapbook your family tree (supplies and page layout ideas): http://www.scrapbookyourfamilytree.com/product-category/genealogy-scrapbook-paper/:

Scrapbooking genealogy (supplies and page layout ideas):    https://www.scrapbookinggenealogy.com/

Scrapbooking Your Family History: http://www.thoughtco.com/scrapbooking-your-family-hitory-1420758

Scrapbook A Family Tree:  https://www.familytree.com/scrapbooking/scrapbook-a-family-tree/

Pinterest, ideas for page layouts and links for supplies:  https://www.pinterest.com/rustico3059/scrapbook-your-family-tree/

The complete guide to starting your family tree scrapbook:  https://scrapbookingcoach.com/the-complete-guide-to-scrapbooking-your-family-history-for-generations-to-come/

Scrapbooking Your Family History: A Beginner’s Guide:   http://www.scrapyourfamilyhistory.com

 

 

 

 

 

Writing & publishing a family history: Part 3. Evaluating sources & information

In two previous blog posts, I described format changes for the next edition of Dad’s family history and examined citation of sources.   This blog post, third in the series, presents evaluation of  sources and  the information in them   Get a cup of your favorite beverage and a snack because this is a long post!  You may even want to read it in 2 sittings!

Entering the facts in a database or research log is only the beginning!  “Oh, no,” you say, “there’s more?”  Oh, yes, there’s more!  Review the document itself.  Identify the document  (or source)   as original/ primary, derivative/ secondary, or authored / tertiary.  Classify the information found in the source as primary, secondary, or unknown.   A statement about both the source and its contents can be included in your citation of the source.

“The Evidence Analysis Process Map”, designed by Elizabeth Shown Mills, puts these concepts in perspective:

QL17-Gallery (1)

Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 17:  The Evidence Analysis Process Map”.  Evidence Explained (https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-17-evidence-analysis-process-map  :  accessed 18 December 2017.

To begin, use one of the sources cited in the previous blog:

1790 U.S. Census, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, township not stated, p. 112 (penned), col. 1, Peter Pofte [Poste]; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, viewed, downloaded 17 October 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M637, roll 8.

1790 United States Federal Census

The document is a scanned or microfilmed copy of the original document, held at National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. (the repository).  An online database provided access to the document. Document is a primary source.

The writing is uniform, indicating that one person filled it out. Census takers received instructions about the report and what information to collect.  Recording the information at or near the time of the event, the census taker asked questions of a household member, possibly the head of household, Peter Poste, or a neighbor.  The number and ages of people in the family should be validated by other sources and serves as a base for future research.    Primary information.

Guidelines for Evaluating Sources & Documents

Sources

In genealogy, sources are classified as original, derivative or authored. [1] You may also see the terms primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. [2] , [3]  The concepts are essentially the same.  An original source is “material in its first oral or recorded form.”   [4]  Created at or near the time of the actual event, reports by someone who experienced or witnessed an event are  classified as original sources. [5]   This includes original materials from the time period, such as tax lists.

Examples include original birth & marriage certificates, physical objects (such as a cross-stitch sampler), autobiographies, personal diaries and audio recordings.  A map created at or near a specific date is an original source. [6]  Other examples are creative works, such as art, poetry and music and original articles or reports of research studies.  Are satellite images of the earth primary sources?  Yes, if the image has not been changed.  An exact photocopy , microfilm image, photograph or scanned image of a document [7]  are generally classified as primary sources.  However, the information may be either primary or secondary.

One of my prized items is an autograph book that belonged to my maternal great-grandmother, Anna Klee Maurer.   The small book contains notes from her friends and teachers.  The most significant entries (to me) are the notes written by Anna’s future husband, Hermann Maurer (dated October 21, 1883) and the notes written, in German, by her future in-laws,  Valentine and Katharina Maurer.

Anna Klee front pages_crop

Anna (Klee) Maurer .  “Autographs Album”  ( book,  Brooklyn, New York, ca 1883); privately held  by Susan M. Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017.  Ms. Ellerbee is Anna’s great-granddaughter.  The book has multiple handwritten entries which appear to be from her friends and teachers as well as her future husband, Hermann Maurer, and his parents, Valentin & Katharina Maurer.  Entries by Valentin and Katharina are written in German.  Some entries are dated, varying  from April to October, 1883. Hermann and Anna married December, 1883. The book was found in the personal effects of Ms. Ellerbee’s mother, Eunice Bertha (Tucker) Posten and was probably given to her by her mother, Charlotte A. (Maurer) Tucker, daughter of Hermann and Anna.

The book itself is a primary source.  Translations of the German language entries are derivative sources.  A transcription of all entries in the book becomes a derivative source with secondary information.

In contrast, derivative or secondary sources are created after the event.  A copy of an original or original in which the content has been manipulated are examples.  Derivative sources interpret or evaluate evidence, especially when the original work was done by others.  Specific examples include delayed birth certificates, tombstones, county record books (which are transcriptions of original documents), databases, translations, transcriptions of personal diaries or audio recordings, and some family histories.

An image copy of an original birth, marriage, or death certificate is a primary source.  However, if the certificate is a transcription of the original certificate, then it is a secondary source. My maternal grandparents’ death certificates, obtained from the state of New York, are original sources with a blend or primary and secondary information.

My great-aunt Viola wrote a brief family history of the Tucker and Maurer families.  The handwritten document names five generations of my mother’s family with some birth, death, and marriage dates.  Two family stories tell of possible lost fortunes.  I have a carbon copy of the original document.   Here’s my citation with source and contents evaluation:

“Maurer- Tucker Family History.” (Handwritten notes. Huntington, New York, ca. 1985), carbon copy privately held by Susan M. Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2010.  Transcribed by Ms. Ellerbee in 2012. Author considered  reliable.  No sources given.  Family stories told to Mrs. Tucker by her grandparents.  Most names & dates have been verified with other sources.  Secondary source with blend of primary and secondary information.

The third category of sources is authored works which are a “hybrid of both original and derivative sources” [8]  Labelled as tertiary in other disciplines, these sources obtain information from primary and derivative sources.   Examples include manuscripts with personal conclusions; family histories may fall into this category.   Other types are county histories with genealogical and biographical information, textbooks, directories, video documentaries and reference books such as encyclopedia, handbooks, and manuals.  The Posten family history that I am revising is this type of source.

Q & A

Are photocopies  original or derivative sources?  Mills (2015, p. 30) states  “. . . image copies as originals so long as (a) the images are legible; and (b) their information does not conflict with other information.”  If these criteria are not met, treat the image copy as derivative and  “seek access to the material from which the images were made.”   This concept provided my rationale for seeking the actual books at a local library instead of using online copies of the same books.

What about a scanned or digital image of a  marriage record found online?  Most consider this as a primary source, it meets the criteria above.  Some consider this as a derivative source.   If possible, obtain a copy of original by personally visiting or requesting the document from the repository.  Remember that the county clerk’s office or the church where the marriage was performed are the repositories, not the online database.  The church or county hold the original document as filed in their office.  A note of caution here.  Ask for an actual copy of the original or you may get a copy of a form with information typed in.  This type of document is a transcript of the original and, therefore, not a primary source.  (Disclaimer:  I read this on a blog and now can’t find the reference!).

Information

As the next step, evaluate the information in the document. Similar to the classification of sources, information is classified as primary, secondary, or unknown.  Any document may contain a blend of these categories.  Information in the document, a.k.a,  content , is classified according to its origin[9] :

Primary information is information provided by someone who experienced or witnessed an event .[10]  If created at or near the actual event, the document or information is marked as primary. [11] Examples include eyewitness accounts of an event, names of persons on census records, and first person accounts of an event  in their original form, such as handwritten entries in a personal diary.

What about death certificates?  Death certificates contain both primary and secondary information.  The person’s name and  death information – date, time, place and cause of death- are primary information.  The person’s date of birth, place of birth and parents’ names are secondary information.

Secondary information  is information provided by someone who has some knowledge of the event but did not actually witness the event.  An intrepretation or evaluation of someone else’s work is secondary.  Specific examples include marriage information copied into a courthouse or county marriage book, hearsay, tradition, and local lore.  The family stories documented by my great-aunt Viola are secondary information.  A newspaper report of a family reunion contains secondary information although the reporter may use information obtained directly from the participants.

Information is labelled as ‘unknown’  when you don’t know who provided the information.  Two examples are a newspaper obituary with no documentation of source and a photograph with no information about the persons in the photograph.  This information needs to be validated by other sources.  When you locate the newspaper where the obituary was published and the publication date, the information can then be classified as ‘secondary’.

Demarious Family Bible

Family Bible Records:  Original or derivative? 

To evaluate family Bible records,  follow guidelines from historical research methods for evaluating documents.  [12], [13]  Ask these questions:

  1. When was the Bible published? If the Bible was published prior to the events documented, then the record (and its scanned or photo copies) might be a primary source.   When photocopying or scanning Bible records, also copy the title and publication date pages.  “My cousin sent me a copy of the Bible pages but doesn’t  have the page with the publication date!”  Now what?  Look further.
  2. Who wrote the entries? You may not know exactly who entered the information.  I am fortunate to have a scanned copy of the presentation page for one family Bible so I know who the Bible belonged to and can date the entries from that point.  A transcription of that information equals a derivative source.
  3. Look for differences in handwriting. If the entries were made close to the time of each event, you should see differences in the style of handwriting as well as differences in the ink.

Ask similar questions about each document that you review.

  • Who created the document? Does the person have the authority to do so?  Ask if the creator is an expert on the topic.  A mother who writes her baby’s name and birth date in the family Bible is certainly an expert on the baby’s birth!
  • What does the document contain? Is the information relevant to your research?
  • When was the document created? If not an original document, when was it copied?  If a transcript of the original,  when was the transcription done?  How accurate is the transcription?  Think of census records.  How many times have you seen a name that was transcribed incorrectly?  Was the error because of poor or illegible handwriting?
  • Where was the document created?
  • Why was the document created?
  • Assess the quality and accuracy of the information in the document. Can you verify the information using other sources?

To summarize, careful review and analysis of every source and fact leads to a more accurate story about your family.  Seek primary sources whenever possible.  Do you include an evaluation of every source and every piece of information?  Ideally, yes.  Drop-down menus appear on most genealogy software programs for this task.  Document  the classification of sources and information on research logs.  Use software, such as Evidentia  (https://www.evidentiasoftware.com ), to assist in your analysis.

For a fun and more concise view of the topic:

RootsWeb’s Guide to Tracing Family Trees, Guide No. 12 (http://rwguide.rootsweb.ancestry.com/lesson12.htm   : accessed 18 December 2017.

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REFLECTION

As a nurse and teacher, I participated in 10-12 research studies during my career.  As either primary or co-investigator, I wrote and implemented protocols, then analyzed  the data and finally, wrote the final reports.  I applied lessons learned from these experiences to genealogy.   As I wrote this blog, I realized that I have not consistently evaluated sources and information.  In some cases, I saw what I wanted to see.  Months later, as I again reviewed the document and my notes, I thought, “How did I ever come to THAT conclusion?”  I am slowly becoming a better genealogist.  There is so much to learn!

What helped?  Reading about each topic from a variety of sources.  Fairly consistent information in the sources. There is some debate about whether photocopies of original certificates are primary or secondary sources.  Putting the information in a chart form for easy comparisons, although I didn’t include the chart here.

What didn’t help?   Finding other websites written in a more concise or reader-friendly format.  I had to consider that maybe I just needed to post a list of the websites and let readers go there.  But, I always learn something when I write my blogs, so here it is!

Next steps:   Take time to critically review at least one document or piece of information per research session.  I often just skim over this process.  Put a copy of the Evidence Analysis Process Map on my bulletin board.  Add items to my Research Toolbox (done).

References

[1] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd ed. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015), 24.

[2] The US GenWeb Project, Primary & Secondary sources (http://www.usgenweb.com/research/sources.html  : accessed 19 Dec 2017).

[3] “Comparative Literature:  Primary, secondary & tertiary sources.”  Yale University Library (https://guides.library.yale.edu   :    accessed 14 October 2017.

[4] Mills, Evidence Explained, 24

[5] George E. Morgan, How to do everything: Genealogy. 3rd edition.  (New York: McGraw-Hll, 2012), 32.

[6] Joni Seager,  “Mapping” Primary and Secondary Sources. (http://teachinghistory.org/history-content/ask-a-historian/25244   :  accessed 19 December 2017

[7] Morgan, Genealogy, 10.

[8]Mills, Evidence Explained, 24.

[9]Mills, Evidence Explained, 25

[10] Ibid.

[11] Morgan, Genealogy, 32.

[12] Randall Seaver, “Original or Derivative Source?  Bible Records,”  Weblog:  Geneamusings, 13 June 2012 (http://www.geneamusings.com/2012/06/original-or-derivative-source-bible.html  :  accessed 14 October 2017.

[13]   Gena Philibert Ortega, “Genealogy 101:  #4:  The Family Bible.”  Weblog:  Genealogy Bank, 8 November 2016 ( https://blog.genealogybank.com/genealogy-101-4-the-family-bible.html  :  accessed 18 December 2017.

Writing & revising the family history:  Part 2.  Citations & sources.

In my last blog post, I described format changes to be made in the next edition of  my dad’s family history, “Posten Family of Northeast Pennsylvania”.  In this blog post, the second of a 3-part series, I examine the citation of sources with examples from my own work.  A later blog post will present types of sources and their evaluation.

What about citations, also known as references?  In general, I followed the Chicago Manual of Style[1] with some variation and greatly simplified many entries.

Example #1:  Census records, listed generically in the original manscript:

U. S. Bureau of Census. Washington, D.C. Census records accessed on various dates from various sources:

1790: Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

1920: Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania

Although easy to understand, these references are not complete.  Using Elizabeth Shown Mills book, Evidence Explained [2], as a guide (an item added to my Research Toolbox this year), the footnotes for these items now read:

  1. Bureau of the Census. Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790: Pennsylvania. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1907), p. 45, column 1, Peter Poste.
  2. 1920 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, pop.sch., Ransom Twp., enumeration district (ED) 93, p. 6B, Family #118, John R. Posten; digital images, com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, viewed, downloaded 13 December 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., Roll T625_1578.

The first reference is for the printed book, found at the Oklahoma State Historical Society library in Oklahoma City.  In the first edition of the Posten family history, I often added a statement such as “personal copy” or “accessed at Oklahoma Historical Society Library on 28 December 2011.”  These locations are helpful for “working notes. . . as an aid in case we need to reconsult it.  However, a citation to the facility most convenient to us personally would be of little value to users of our work who live elsewhere.” [3]  So, those comments will be deleted in the next edition.  However, the information remains in the first edition as well as in my handwritten and digital notes.

What if I found the 1790 census reference online?  If I accessed the print version of the book online, then the footnote would be similar to this:

“Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States, taken in the year 1790. Pennsylvania,”  population schedule, p. 45, col. 1, Peter Poste;  digital images, United States Census Bureau Library (https://www2.census.gov/library/publications/decennial/1790/heads_of_families/pennsylvania/1790i-02.pdf   : accessed 17 October 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.  Record Group 29.

For a digital copy of the original page, viewed online, the footnote would be:

1790 U.S. Census, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, township not stated, p. 112 (penned), col. 1, Peter Pofte [Poste]; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, viewed, downloaded 17 October 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication 637, roll 8.

Review the above 1790 census examples again and look for differences.  How many differences can you find?  Here’s my list:

  1. Page numbers.  Page number 45 from the print and online books, page 112 from online database.  Online book is digital image of the printed page, so page number for the first two footnotes is the same.  Digital image from Ancestry is a copy of the original document with a different page number as recorded on the original document.
  2. Spelling of name. Poste from print and online books, Peter Pofte [Poste] from online database.  The first two are typed transcriptions of the original document. The third is a copy of the original document.  My interpretation of the spelling was placed in brackets since it is different than what is written on the original document.   For more information about ‘long s’ (often looks like ‘f’ in early documents) and ‘short s’,  go to this blog:   Andrew West, “The Rule for Long S”, Babelstone, 12 June 2006 (http://babelstone.blogspot.com/2006/06/rules-for-long-s-html  : accessed 17 October 2017, para. 7.
  1. Source of the source. First footnote is from a printed book, complete with publisher and publication date.  No additional information needed because this book is available at many libraries.  If it is a rare book or part of a special collection and not readily available, then add the repository.  The 2nd and 3rd footnotes identify the repository (citing . . . . ) or location where the original item is held or originated.   Specific information (Record Group 29; microfilm publication 637, roll 8) reflects  information given in the database.  Remember that online databases are lists of documents and other information, not repositories.

According to Mills (2015), a repository is “an archive, government office, library, or other facility where research materials are held.”[4]  Consider that definition when deciding whether to add the repository information or not.

If you have the original document, such as a family Bible, then you are the repository. Here’s an example using my great-aunt’s handwritten family history:

Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer- Tucker Family History.” (Handwritten notes. Huntington, New York, ca. 1975-1980); carbon copy privately held by Susan M. Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2010.

Example #2:  A book, originally found online.  Fortunately, the Oklahoma Historical Society Library in Oklahoma City has a complete set of the Pennsylvania Archives, so I was able to put my hands on the books.  From the working manuscript:

“Chester County Tax Rates, Oxford, 1774,” In Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, Volume XII, page. 71.  Accessed 12 December 2011 from www.fold3.com

Although you can find the information from the above footnote, it is not complete. If I continued to use the online database version, without copying information from the title page of the book, the footnote might look like:

“Chester County Tax Rates, Oxford, 1774”, Provincial Papers:  Proprietary and other tax lists of the County of Chester for the years 1774, 1779, 1780, 1781, 1785; Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, Volume 12, page 71; digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com  : viewed 12 December 2011).

More complete footnote, based on actually viewing the print copy:

“List of taxables of the County of Chester, 1774: Chester County Tax Rates, Oxford, 1774”,  Provincial Papers:  Proprietary and other tax lists of the County of Chester for the years 1774, 1779, 1780, 1781, 1785, William Henry Egle, editor, Pennsylvania Archives, 3rd series, vol. 12,   (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Wm. Stanley Ray, 1897), 71.

You can find the referenced page from either of the two footnotes for the online source. With online sources, remember to look for a copy of the title page and publication page.  In this example,  only the last footnote gives the complete information.

A final suggestion about citing online sources – check the website before you publish.  I found several websites that changed or disappeared since I first accessed them in 2010 or 2011.

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Reflection/ Journal

Took more time than I expected – about 4 hours at the library.  This was at least the 3rd time that I had looked at the books but first time to actually get the full information about the reference.  Yes, it seems as if there is some duplication and/or unnecessary information.  Consider this scenario- your great grandchild finds your work 75 or 80 years from now.  Will he or she know exactly where and how you found your information?  Chances are that they will have to look up the meaning of  ‘www.website.com’! And, what, exactly is a ‘digital copy’? These terms were foreign to writers of family histories 40 years ago!  Photocopy machines were invented about 75 years ago but not readily available until about 1959.  For more information about the evolution of copy machines, read this article:

Happy Birthday, Copy Machine! Happy Birthday, Copy Machine!

What helped. Having print copy of Evidence Explained book.  Written information in initial draft of manuscript about date & place item was located.  Library call number recorded on some documents.  Using blog as a practice venue as I am still learning how to cite sources correctly.

What didn’t help. Putting off the inevitable that citations needed to be re-done.

Future:  Photocopy title pages of books and/or copy all possible information before leaving library or repository.  If applicable, record library call number.  Write the location, such as Oklahoma Historical Society library, Oklahoma City, and the date copied on my copy of the title page.  Staple or paper clip pages together before leaving the building.  And, the work continues!

[1] The Chicago Manual of Style.  16th edition.  Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2010.

[2] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd ed. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015)

[3] Mills, Evidence Explained,  51.

[4] Mills, Evidence Explained, 829.

Writing & revising a family history. Part 1. Content & format.

This blog post is the first of three posts about revising a previously written family history. The focus of this post is Content and Format. The next post discusses Citation of Sources. The third post, Evaluating Sources, includes types of sources.  Examples from my own work are incorporated throughout.

When I grew serious about genealogy 10 years ago, one goal stood out– to write and publish a history of dad’s paternal family, Posten. Writing the family history became more important following Aunt Grace’s death in 2011. Aunt Mary, dad’s youngest sister, is the only one of Dad’s siblings still alive.  I finally completed the history in 2012 and sent copies to a few people, including Aunt Mary.  The original manuscript[1] traces our family back to Thomas Postens (1782-1854), dispels an oral family tradition about Thomas’ parents and grandparents, mentions family histories of several women who married Posten men (maiden names of Richards, Fulkerson, LaCoe)  and discusses our possible relationship to Poston/ Poste/ Posten families found in late 1700s/ early 1800s Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The document represents over 20 years of genealogical research.

The format of the first edition is relatively informal.  Yes, I presented facts and noted sources.  I also included information about the research process, such as moving forwards and backwards in time to discover the names of all 8 children of one family and the mother’s maiden name.  Journal type entries are common. I documented process as well as results. In essence, I created a working document rather than a finished piece.

My sister commented that the history was ‘confusing’. When I read the document again in 2014, I realized what she meant. It all made perfect sense to me!  But, it may not make sense or seem logical to others.  For example, in each generation, I began numbering individuals again with number 1.  My reasoning? I thought it would be easier for my elderly aunt, and others, to understand. While that may be true, random numbering does not meet any genealogical standard.  Over the years, I have read and consulted multiple published family histories.  Each one seems to have its own numbering system!

How important is it to follow a genealogical standard for numbering? Some may consider this irrelevant.  I respect their opinion, especially if the system is logical and easily followed by readers.  Identifying your readers guides your choice of numbering. A sequential numbering system in which each person has a unique number, starting with ‘1’, is one possibility.  However, if you plan to submit part or all of your work for publication elsewhere, such as an historical society journal, follow the guidelines for that journal.  A recognized numbering system improves the quality of your work in the eyes of others.  An item added to my research toolbox is the 2008 summary by Joan Curran, Madilyn Crane and John Wray, Numbering your genealogy. [2]

Since 2012, I attended several workshops and webinars about publishing and consulted with a professional genealogist. Participation in the Genealogy Do-Over[3] helps me to refine research skills and extend my research toolbox.  I began to look more critically at each piece of data and each document. Right now, I am still stuck on finding my great-grandfather, Daniel S. Posten (born 1859) and his parents, James D. Posten and Meriam Mills, in 1870 census. This particular objective has been temporarily put aside. See how my thought processes work?  Not always in a straight, linear fashion!

Back to writing, revising, and eventual formal publication of the Posten family history. Based on what I have learned, recommendations include:

  1. Choose and follow a specific numbering convention for lineage. Rationale:  Follow a specific, recognized genealogical numbering system.
  2. Reorganize content, start with Dad and work backwards in time. Include facts and stories about direct ancestors with only 1-2 paragraphs about collateral and ‘possibly related families’.   Rationale:   Less confusing while still acknowledging real and possible relationships.
  3. Describe research process as addendum to relevant chapter or section. Rationale: readers can choose to read or skip this information.
  4. Add family group sheet at end of each chapter, as relevant. Rationale: provides overview of family, including siblings of direct ancestor.
  5. Write articles about collateral families (surnames of women who married Posten men) and other ‘possibly related families’. Delete most, if not all, appendices.  Rationale:  Less confusing to readers.  Shows readers that additional information is available, if they are interested.
  6. Insert footnotes at bottom of each page in addition to a reference/ source list at the end of each chapter. Rationale:  When readers copy individual pages, they often copy only that page and may not also copy or refer to the list of references at the end of the chapter.
  7. Revise entries for footnotes and reference/source lists. Rationale:  Follow recognized system with complete and accurate citation of sources, recording the “specific location of each piece of data” and “details that affect the use or evaluation of that data.”[4]  Location does not necessarily refer to the library where you found the item but to the item itself.  (Citation of sources, including footnote entries, will be addressed in another post).
  8. Locate print copies of as many sources as possible. Whenever possible, cite the print item rather than online image. Rationale: This is a personal preference.  I prefer to handle the actual book or journal article or document.  The original item sometimes has additional information that is not included online. If print copy is not readily available,  use online copy of the original source, such as online copy of print book.
  9. Locate original sources for online images and indexes, as needed. Consult and reference the original sources/ repositories.   Rationale:  Many online images are from sources other than the website on which found. Online indexes use other sources to create the index.  Example:  The National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) is the repository for U.S. Federal census records, not online websites which show images of those records and/or provide an index of the names on the original census record.  However, if using an online website, acknowledge the website as the place where you found the record as well as citing NARA as the original repository.

Here’s the original sequence of chapters and proposed changes:

Original Proposed revision
Chapter Working Manuscript- 2012 Proposed Changes- 2017
1 Posten Name The Posten name:  origins, derivative spellings, history of Pennsylvania county formation & relevance
2 Family origins- original immigrant. (moved to Chapter 8 in proposed revision) Daniel Richard Posten (1917-1998) & Eunice Bertha Tucker (1919-2007)- my parents.  Include info about meeting George Avery Posten in 1980s. Add brief info about Tucker  family.
3 Pennsylvania Posten families early 1800s. Summary of Poston histories (moved to Chapter 8 in proposed revision). Pennsylvania county formation (moved to Chapter 1 in proposed revision). John Ray Posten (1898-1948) & Jennie A. Richards (1884-1964) – my grandparents. Brief info about Richards family.
4 Jacob Postens. Includes descendent list from 1700s to 1900s.  (revision – brief mention in ‘who’s the daddy’ chapter). Daniel S. Posten (1859-1918) & Elizabeth Phoebe Fulkerson (1860-1938). Brief info about Fulkerson family.
5 Richard, Samuel, William Postens (included summary of Samuel Posten descendants in New Jersey).  (revision – moved to ‘who’s the daddy’ chapter) James D. Posten (1829-1914) & Meriam Mills (1834-1897). Brief info about Mills family.
6 Thomas Postens Thomas Postens (1784-1852) & Esther Brown (1790 -1841).  Brief info about contradictory information for children of their daughter, Phoebe.  Mention Elihu Posten as caretaker of Thomas’ deaf son after Thomas’ death.
7 James D. Postens Who’s the daddy?’ of Thomas Postens.  Evidence for & against each possibility. Omit detailed descendant lists.
8 Daniel S. Posten.  Includes Fulkerson/ Fulkerson. Beginnings.  Original immigrant.   1700s – early 1800s.  Poston family histories.  Summary of PA Posten families in other parts of the state, specifically Huntingdon county.
9 John Ray Posten. Includes Richards & LaCoe. Summary.  Include complete descendant list for Thomas Postens.
10 Daniel Richard Posten Not needed.
Appendices Appendix A.  Benjamin Avery Posten, Missouri Omit appendix.  Ancestor of George Avery Posten. Article for Oklahoma Historical Society journal.  Refer to article in relevant chapter.
Appendix B.  Elihu Postens, Monroe Co, PA Omit appendix. Brief mention in Thomas Postens’ chapter as caretaker of Thomas’ son deaf son after Thomas’ death. Article for Monroe County Historical Society.
Appendix C. William Poste/ Posten of Bucks & Huntingdon counties. Included info about other Posten families in Huntingdon county. Proposed lineage & link to James Posten & Rhoda Shafer of Iowa. Omit appendix.  Brief mention about William in ‘Who’s the daddy’ chapter. Series of articles:  1) William & Peter Poste to Huntingdon County PA Historical Society.  2)Other Posten families in Huntingdon County PA. 3) James Posten & Rhoda Shafter to Cass County, Iowa Historical Society.  Possibly a ‘how I did this’ article.

progress imageProgress to date:  chapter 1 revision – done, following the above recommendations.  Revision process begun on Chapter 2.   To anyone who hasn’t compiled your research yet,  start small, with one or two stories or generations.   Writing these blog posts has helped me.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hiREFLECTION:   took more time than I expected.  Went to library for print copies of many books which I had accessed online.  Pleased to find that Oklahoma History Society library has a complete set of the Pennsylvania Archives series plus other books that I used. Somewhat discouraged that I didn’t see duplications and confusing sections earlier.

What helped:  writing down a plan for the revision.  Print copy of 1st  edition as well as copy of 2nd edition on computer screen for easy comparison of both versions as I edit.  Time away from 1st edition allowed me to see it from a different perspective. Glad that I didn’t send 1st edition to county historical societies.  Constructive criticism from relatives who have a copy of 1st edition. Research tools obtained from participation in Genealogy Do-Over.  Attending a week-long webinar series about writing family histories and receiving additional input from an expert.  Further refinement of proposed family history.

What didn’t help:  Not being able to locate some sources again.  Some files are still not organized.  I have begun to use various tools more consistently so this problem should be minimized in the future.

What I learned:   One step/ chapter at a time.  Read previous chapters again before starting on next one. End product will be more reader-friendly with minimal duplication of information.

[1] Susan Posten Ellerbee, “Posten Family of Northeast Pennsylvania” (Yukon, Oklahoma:  Susan Posten Ellerbee,  [address for private use, ] Yukon, Oklahoma), 2012.

[2] Joan Ferris Curran, Madilyn Coen Crane & John H. Wray.  Elizabeth Shown Mills (Ed.). Numbering Your Genealogy: Basic Systems, Complex Families and International Kin. Special Publication No. 97.  (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2008).

[3] Thomas MacAntee, The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook. (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016);  download from Amazon.com

[4] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd ed. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015), 43.