Saturday, April 30, 2016

Quick Lesson 2: Sources vs Information vs Evidence vs Proof

In March, DearMYRTLE started a new series of Hangouts on Air where she and Cousin Russ and the other panelists discuss the Quick Lessons found on Elizabeth Shown Mills' website Evidence Each week the panelists and any viewers who wish to, post their analyses of the current Quick Lesson two days before the Hangout, the Quick Lesson is then discussed live at 12 noon (Eastern) and recorded on You Tube.

I am in the process of catching up and decided to write a post myself related to Quick Lesson 2 to get my thoughts and understanding in writing.

Sources are the places we look for information. They are the family bibles, the vital records, the obituaries. This Matthews genealogy is a source.

What you are looking at is a copy but I have the original, so this is an original source or record. It is in good condition and it is legible. The handwriting and paper match a hymn to which my great-grandfather, Arthur Matthews, signed his name. Both the hymn and genealogy passed from his son, my grandfather, to his son, my father, to me. The date indicates that it was written a little more than two months before Arthur's death.

This source contains information; it states the names of Arthur W. Matthews' parents and siblings, their places of birth and death and where they were living as of Sep. 26, 1915. This information is merely content. We have not yet drawn any conclusions as to the accuracy of the information, we are just saying that this is information, raw data, or as Elizabeth Shown Mills says, "assertions".

If I am looking for the birthplace of Mark Matthews, my 2nd great-grandfather, this source offers direct evidence of that; it states that Mark was born in Coleford, Somersetshire, England.  That isn't to say that Coleford is his true birthplace, however, just that this source offers Mark's birthplace directly, just as it does the name of his wife and seven children (actually there were at least eight).

As for proof of any of Arthur's assertions, no one source can offer proof of anything. Proof is an argument that I will have to make after more sources have been found, more information gathered, more evidence analyzed.

My great-grandfather has provided some good leads, but the reasonably exhaustive search continues.
 Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 2: Sources vs. Information vs. Evidence vs. Proof,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : [April 26, 2016]).

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday - Dad's Red Beanie

I can vaguely remember my father referring to a red beanie that he wore as a child but I don't remember any details like why it meant so much to him. I found the beanie in the basement stash last September which means that he and my grandparents saved it for the rest of his life.

I had seen it before on film the couple of times that Dad broke out the home movie of my grandparents' wedding and visits to my great-grandparents. You may remember that I had a VHS copy of that film digitized last year. The beanie makes it's appearance at about 12:32.

Also in the basement stash were these photos of Dad wearing the beanie. He's such a cutie!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday - Cleaning Tessie's Headstone

UPDATE: First thing to know is that this cleaning was done at the request of Donald's father, the only child of Charles and Tessie Calma. Since we did this I have been reading that even soft brushes are too harsh for a headstone. While I certainly would never have used them on an older stone, I still think we are OK using one here. Some people even say that unless you are going to make yourself perpetually responsible for a headstone, you shouldn't clean it at all. Please do your own research and make your own decisions. And please do not point to this post as an instruction that soft brushes are OK for any stone. Thank you.

When Donald had a death in the family last summer, we went to the burial at the same cemetery where his paternal grandparents are buried and paid our respects at their grave site as well as those of other relatives.

Donald's grandparents' grave site gets quite a bit more shade than the others and it was beginning to show in the accumulation of lichen on their headstone. On Sunday we finally did something about that. Here is the stone when we arrived.

Although this headstone only dates from 1975 when Donald's grandfather, Charles Calma, passed away, we still wanted to be very careful not to damage the stone, so we began by wetting it with plain water and applying wet cloths to soak the lichen or whatever the green growth was. It was a fairly windy day, so we only had moderate success in getting the cloths to stay, even when soaking wet.

Eventually we just took the cloths off and scrubbed and rinsed. We were making excellent progress but we realized (and I'm not sure why I didn't think to add them to my kit before this) that we would need some soft toothbrushes to really get into some areas, like inside those rose petals.

Also, we ran into a little hiccup when our gallon water bottle ran dry and we discovered that the cemetery hasn't turned the water on yet. Our guess is that will happen on June 1st when their "planting season" begins. Luckily we did bring a little drinking water for ourselves so we were able to get a bit more done and the Calma's headstone got a little Evian rinse!

We could have gone out for more water, but decided to wait until we go back with the toothbrushes in a few weeks. We just want to get it done before the humidity of summer begins. Here is what the headstone looked like when we left; much more clean and almost dry.

The little red and green spots you might notice under "CALMA" are actually reflections.

Donald was very pleased. He did not believe that we would make this much progress with just water and soft brushes.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Genealogy Do-Over - Do I Finally Have a System?

My paternal grandfather, Howard Matthews.
Always organized.
Do I finally have a research tracking system I can live with? It seems like all this planning and reading has been going on for way too long. But really, only time will tell as I put all these ideas into practice.

As I alluded to in my last post on this subject, staying organized has always been a challenge for me. One thing that helps me keep our living space organized is the mantra that professional organizers use often, "A place for everything and everything in it's place." This is something I need to keep in mind in organizing my genealogy, too. While I want to keep things as simple as possible, my genealogical finds and evidence need to have a place to go or I may just drop them somewhere random, never to be seen again.

This week I looked at where I wanted to keep four things:

  • To do list
  • Search attempts
  • Citations
  • Transcriptions
To Do List
I like keeping each ancestor's research note separate in Evernote, but I only want have one To Do List. I created a new Note in Evernote with a To Do List table and put a link to the Note in my research note template so that I can quickly get to the to do list from each research note.

You may notice that I started the name of this note with a period (.Research To Do List). That will make this note appear at or near the top of the list of notes when searching by name and make it easier to find.

Search Attempts
Search attempts, like the research log, will be kept in each individual note so I added this table to the template. This is a place to track all of the attempts I made to locate a record in a specific database.

Citations & Transcriptions
I really like Thomas MacEntee's idea of starting your evidence analysis in the research log, but unfortunately it isn't very practical in a table format. So what to do? How about using the Evidentia program I bought and paid for back in 2015? What an idea!

But that only deals with where to analyze my evidence, where else should I keep those citations so that they are accessible away from home and saved somewhere in the cloud for backup? I've decided to do two things with my citations and transcriptions. First will be to save a transcription of the document and the citation in Word document along with a digital image of the record and then upload the document to Dropbox. Then I will copy and paste the citation and transcription into the Evernote Note that contains a copy of the digital record.

I hope this post isn't too confusing. I had rewrite it a few times to make sure I was getting my points across. I hope I succeeded.

I'm going to put all of this into practice this week and put together a post to walk us through my process step-by-step. Wish me luck!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Celebration Sunday - Photos for a Cousin

This week I was finally able to sort through the last of the photos found in my step-mother's basement last September. In doing so, I was able to give a cousin the first glimpse of her second great-grandmother, Laura Scharer Matthews. Laura Scharer was married to William G. Matthews, the eldest son of my great-grandfather, Arthur William Matthews, and his first wife.

Thank goodness the person who sent these photos to my grandfather (possibly one of Laura and William's daughters) wrote on the backs or I never would have known who was in them!

Laura Scharer Matthews (rt) and
her granddauther Betty Haynes (lt)
Laura Schaerer Matthews (lt)
and Betty Haynes (rt)
 It is such a gift to be able to give these photos to my cousin! She was very excited to hear I had them and to see the scans and I'll be mailing out the originals to her tomorrow. Happy Dance!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Fridays Faces from the Past - Lilian Matthews Hunter and ?

I'm sorting through more photos from that basement stash this afternoon frustrated by the lack of information about some of these photos! It will pass, after all, it is Friday, but I'm turning to you and my Facebook friends and family for help.

Do you think that these photos are the same woman?

The woman on the left is identified as Lilian Matthews Hunter, eldest sister of my paternal grandfather. The photo was taken in December of 1933 when Lilian was 55. The photo on the right is not identified and has no markings from a photographer or developer.

Please let me know what you think. Thank you!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday - Stephen David Matthews b. Apr 20, 1936

Yesterday would have been my father's 80th birthday. Until January two years ago, I had never seen any photos of him as an infant. That is when my step-mother gave me an old plastic bag containing loose photos including this one. I now know from notes on the backs of other photos, which were part of the basement stash uncovered in September, that this was taken when Dad was six-weeks-old.

Dagmar Alice Viola Anderson
Stephen David Matthews
June 1936

This is the building they lived in when Dad was born.

1366 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL

Here is some of the other treasure found in basement six months ago.

Birth Announcement

My grandfather's hospital admission card.


Certificate of Registration of Birth

This is kind of an odd thing. Babies Alumni? And it was issued in 1943. Still, a fun thing to have.

I'm always sad that I was never able to share these things with Dad when he was alive, but I am very grateful to have them now.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Genealogy Do-Over - Moving Towards a Research Tracking System - Choosing my platform

I thought I would be back with a post on Sunday but there just weren't enough hours in the weekend. I was lucky to find the time to scan a few photos that I want to post on Facebook during the week. That was the extent of anything genealogy-related for a few days. But this post is about organizing my genealogy research, not my home!

If there is one thing that my work life and previous genealogy research have taught me, it is that I will not remember the things that I think I will. Actually, that's a lesson I started learning in elementary school when my homework assignments weren't all completed because I wasn't writing them down. This was the subject of a parent-teacher meeting in about the 4th grade. Then my parents bought me a Ziggy pocket calendar. Now, thank goodness, I have much more helpful tools to choose from.

Not only do I need a research tracking system, I need something that won't be so complicated that I get lazy about using it, I need it to capture lots of information (because I won't remember it) and I'd much prefer it to be in Evernote so that I can access it offline when the need arises.

I really like Thomas MacEntee's research log in Excel, it holds a lot of information but it is still very easy to use. He has even included fields to allow you to start analyzing your evidence as you log it in. I gave it a shot last year, but my home computer is a Mac and at the time I didn't have Office 365 (the online subscription plan to Microsoft Office products). I was also in the process of deciding on a mobile computing option so I wasn't sure what my needs would be in that regard and didn't want to start something in Keynote (Apple's spreadsheet program) that might not be compatible with other devices.

Today, I do have Office 365 and I have the most basic Kindle Fire and a not-so-smart phone. Although I have yet to be able to take a deep dive into offline research, the reading I have done in the past few months has convinced me that I should have an option that includes mobile, offline access to my research logs. That means something that I can access on my Kindle (and a Chromebook when I can afford it) when there is no wireless available.

This is a long way of saying that although I like Excel, and there are some drawbacks to logging my research without it, I chose a method that uses Evernote. I mentioned Colleen Greene's blog and Evernote organization system in my last post. She has a system that seems a bit intimidating at first in terms of set-up but it looks to me like accessing the information will be quick and easy thanks to the ability to link notes together in Evernote, I love that. Here is an example of a research note for one of my grandparents:

As you can see, I have been able to link to other ancestors' notes and to documents that are saved in Evernote. This is not a replacement for genealogy software, as Colleen Greeen herself points out, but this section can give you access to facts and documents for easy reference.

Now, because the above information is in a table, rather than a spreadsheet, you can't add endless columns without reducing column width. That is where Excel has it all over Evernote, but I'm working on a solution to that which would basically involve multiple tables in the same document. But I am also experimenting with linked notes instead.

Hopefully I will have this all worked out by the end of next weekend so that I can share it with you then and get my research going again! 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Genealogy Do-Over - Moving Towards a Research Tracking System - Tagging

Here we are in month four of the year-long Genealogy Do-Over and I finally have my Evernote just about in order. I thought this would be a good time to share what I am doing, even though NONE of these ideas are my own!

As I shared a few posts back (at least), I started getting serious about Evernote when I read Kerry Scott's How to Use Evernote for Genealogy a couple of months ago. The book was very helpful in understanding the program in general and Kerry shared many ideas about using it for genealogy specifically.

I found more help organizing on Colleen Greene's blog in a fantastic series of posts. By the way, I found these posts by doing a search of all the GeneaBlogs. Did you know you could do that? Easy-peasy.

It took a little bit for me to fully absorb all of Colleen's techniques and decide what I would use for myself, but I'm well on my way now. As an added bonus, some of these techniques are also helping me name and tag the digital files on my Mac and in Dropbox, and that is where I am going to start.

It has been a challenge for me to find a file-naming system that works. I don't like impossibly-long file names, they irk me and they feel like they aren't going to be much help in searches anyway. Thomas MacEntee's webinar on Metadata was a big help in this regard. Knowing that I can tag my photos and other files (like a census record) to identify all the relevant ancestors, without having to name them all in the file name, is great! The only drawback for me is that my personal computer is a Mac, which doesn't offer as many fields in the metadata, but the tagging is really working for me. Even better, I'm now tagging those files with their Dollarhide number instead of names so my tagging is quicker and tags are consistent across my multiple platforms.

For those who might be new to the Dollarhide numbering system as I was, here is a link to a good explanation of how it works. Long story short, everyone gets a number. At first I said, "No way!" I thought it was going to be too much work, that every time I wanted to save and tag something it would take forever. But I quickly realized that it didn't have to be that hard. Starting at the beginning and going through about 5 generations, I made a table in Word with just two columns; one for the name, last name first, and one for their number. The table can then be sorted by number or by name so look-ups are quick and easy. As I save documents with other ancestors in them, they are added to the chart which is re-sorted and saved.

As for other tags, I just try to anticipate the reasons I might access a file in the future, whether it be a document, a photo, a blog post or anything. Perhaps I might write a blog post about City Directories and want to look at all the City Directory pages I have saved in Evernote, perhaps I'll want to show a cousin everything I have collected about our grandparents' home town. Whatever different ways or reasons I think I might want to search for records in the future, I'll need tags to accomplish that task.

One other note about tagging and metadata. I was hoping to be able to search by the tags in my metadata to help find items saved to Dropbox but, as of now, Dropbox does not have this capability. My filing system will have to help me find what I'm looking for there. Or I can look for the filename on my Mac and use that to find the document on Dropbox (for sharing for example).  I also experimented to see if Dropbox would save the metadata for me even if I couldn't use it and I was happy to see that it did, even across different platforms. For example, I tagged a document on my Mac, uploaded it to Dropbox, downloaded it on my PC at the office and found all of my tags still there - yes!

So that is my new tagging system. I'll have more on Evernote tomorrow.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday - Middletown High School Photos

I still cannot believe my good fortune in recovering these scrapbooks from my stepmother's basement last September. I'm sorry that my father's childhood brought him such mixed emotions that he never shared them with me himself. And I wish that I were helping my step-mother prepare for his 80th birthday next week, instead of anticipating the day without him.

I wasn't sure about sharing this next group of photos because I suddenly realized that, although Dad may be gone, many of his schoolmates may still be alive and not want their images posted online.  I went to a the members of a new Facebook group for genealogy bloggers and was happy to receive reassurance that posting the photos wouldn't be wrong, as long as I would be willing to delete them if asked, which I certainly would. I really appreciated that feedback because I kept going back and forth on it.

Well, without anymore second-guessing, here are those photos.  Once again, I have captioned them as my father did.

George Holmes, Charlie Wrubel, David Epstein, Dom Daniels
Dick Donahue, Jim Maselli, Stanley Dunn, Arnold Gross
Rod Martin, Diane Dana, Betty Nelson, Ann McCormic,
Anna Marie DeClemente
A School Play

The Cast

"You had better sing 'Nearer My God to Thee' the way Ginger's Driving."

"...I don't like pickles either."

"...they just sit there."

"Oh, let me bandage it."


"...and my junior pin..."


Listening to Poetry

"He's got ants in his pants!"

Band Marching Before Bristol Game

Kickoff Bristol Game

Baton Corps at Bristol Game

Waldman's 97 yd. touchdown Bristol Game

My dad developed his own film, so he must have masked the arrow to show us Mr. Waldman making his amazing touchdown.

In some spare moments I have been doing a little bit of detective work, seeing if I can find any of these schoolmates. If I do, I will certainly let you know.  In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed this look at high school in the early 50s.

In my next post I hope to have an update on my Evernote organization and the Genealogy Do-Over.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Celebration Sunday - Two Matthews Surprises

I had two very nice moments this week, both related to my genealogy although they weren't exactly finds. Thanks to Cheri Hudson Passey, though, I am remembering to be grateful for these moments and celebrate them.

Earlier this week I noticed a new comment left here on a recent post by a woman who is not a cousin. I'm not even sure of her name because she didn't leave any contact info. But I did share her comment with friends and family as excitedly as if she had been a cousin. Her comment related to an old post where she had seen a familiar name.

Image from New York Public Library's Digital Collection
Citation Below
I spent many Mondays last year transcribing my grandfather Matthews' story in twenty some Amanuensis Monday posts. He had written about three fortuitous happenings in his life that sent it on its eventual course. Forced to leave high school and take a job after his father's death, my grandfather decided to take an underground job in a local coal mine because those underground jobs paid better. After a gas explosion and later a roof collapse that they both survived, Malachi Glennon, one of my grandfather's supervisors, advised my grandfather to get out of the mines, before he was "kilt". My grandfather felt and I agree that Malachi's advice, and my grandfather's decision to act on it, were some of the best things that ever happened to him.

The great-granddaughter of Malachi's brother left the lovely comment on my blog last week, grateful for those little details of the time my grandfather and Malachi worked together and the story of Malachi's influence on my grandfather's life.

It is those lovely details, the ones that flesh out someone we never knew in life, that make them come to life for us. Being able to provide that for someone just made my day.

The second bit of excitement was also related to my grandfather Matthews. Two years ago or so I stumbled across an image of him while doing a random Google search. He spent four years at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, and I had stumbled on an image from the University's archives. It showed my grandfather presenting the Institute's 500,000th visitor with a 1,500-year-old oil lamp. A nice find. You can see it here.

I follow the Institute on Facebook and logged-on yesterday during a break at work. There at the top of my feed was the same image posted by them for ThrowBack Thursday! It was a very cool moment, even if I had seen the image before.

No brick walls were broken through this week, no new family artifacts were discovered, no new record sets provided new insights, but these two things made it a very cool week.

Image from The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. "Conveyer line for carrying bird's-eye coal to bin, Scranton, Pa., U.S.A." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1905.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday - In Honor of Mum's Birthday

Saturday will be my mother's 79th birthday, so rather than share photos from Dad's scrapbook/albums this week, I have some of Mum's treasures to share.

This is a photo that I grew up seeing on my mother's dresser. She had it in a hinged double frame with a photo of the two of us right after I was born.

I've always thought that this weight chart is such a great piece of documentation. Not only does it confirm certain details of my mother's birth, its also evidence that hospitals did not always toss mother and child out the door withing 12 hours of birth. Neither my mother nor my grandmother was sick after delivery, so this must have been standard operating procedure at Sherbrooke Hospital in 1937.

Easily my favorite piece of treasure related to Mum's birth is her Baby Book. The illustrations are so lovely. The genealogical information it contains is seriously just a bonus. I actually scanned these pages a few years back and apparently not the whole book, but I thought I would scan the rest this evening. It seems that Mum took the book back to her place at some point, but that will just give me more to share with you next year.

Next week, back to Dad's scrapbooks with some photos of classmates and a school play.