Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Minute Man and Revolutionary War Soldier

Orringh Stoddard served in Col. John Patterson's Minute Men and fought at the Battle of Monmouth.

His profile is featured on the WikiTree blog.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Categoriztion - What and Why

Categorization is a project at WikiTree that began last year and has grown to affect nearly every profile on the tree.  It is a great help to researchers to be able to find all the profiles buried in the same cemetery as their ancestor, or all the profiles who settled an early Colonial town. Among those names will be children, spouses, parents, in-laws, and others who are related to the person they are seeking to document.

For an example, if your Puritan ancestor came to America on the Arbella, and their profile is labelled "Category:Arbella, Winthrop Fleet", then the link will take you to a page listing everyone who came on the Arbella, with their names linked to their profiles.  It is likely that people related to your ancestor will be among those other profiles.

Categorization is not only used on WikiTree, the concept has been around for ages.  Here is a Wikipedia article about it. On WikiTree, categorization may be used to add data once which may then be applied to all the profiles included in the category. For example, if your ancestor was in the Indian/Colonial conflict known as King Philip's War, you would add the category to their profile. It would connect to a page with the details of King Philip's War, and a list of people involved, linked to their profiles. I have been adding the categories of Puritan Great Migration, 1776, King Philip's war, Magna Carta, and others for months.

Today I realized I need to work at understanding how to create categories so I joined the Categorization Project. As a bonus, I have a new badge:

February and March were both productive months, as you can see by my Club 1,000 badges.

Coming soon: a badge for Magna Carta Project. As a leader of the project, one of my duties is to award the project badge to new members - a very happy duty indeed.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Project close to my Heart

England is having a very big party - and we are all invited.  June 15, 2015 is the 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta, and the party has already started.

We are celebrating it at WikiTree with a new project which I am privileged to co-lead with John Schmmeckle, who is also a Magna Carta enthusiast.

Here is the project page for Magna Carta Project, with links to the Surety Barons. This week we are adding a list of Gateway Ancestors - that is, Colonial Americans whose ancestry goes back to the Magna Carta Surety barons.

Are you a descendant of one of the great barons of Medieval times? If your family tree goes to any of the Gateway Ancestors, you are.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Advantages of Genealogy as a Community Project

Tonight I tried to count all the ways that working on my family tree at WikiTree is creating an advantage I could not find or even purchase elsewhere. I only got as far as Templates, but there are many more.

Let me be clear: I would not have thought of templates on my own. Even if I did, I wouldn't know how to create one.

The template  below with the two flags may be used on any emigrant from one country to another - in this case, for my grandfather, who came from Finland to America in 1912.

Other templates I use frequently include a ship template, for gathering all the people who came on a ship together on one page, from the many various profiles, so that their history can be understood as a group.  What is the point of that, you ask?  Cousins often migrated together, extended family groups on the same ship with the same destinations. Family groups from villages kept their associations, language, religion and culture intact as much as was possible when they came to America. Being able to examine who was on the ship together can lead to breakthroughs in finding the maiden names of wives, for instance. Added to other clues, recreating the ship lists with categories may show our ancestors associations and give us clues to to extend our family tree.

The EuroAristo Source template, which provides an explanation and a link for documentation found at Medieval Lands, is not one I can reproduce here. See the profile of Robert de Vere for an example of how it is used.

Not all the examples I'd like to use will work on this page, as they are programmed especially for WikiTree. The point of templates is to have a compact bit that is quick to paste that collects or facilitates a great deal of information.The Template below is on my grandparents profiles who were both born in Finland, immigrated 1912.

Flag of Finland This person migrated from Finland to America in 1912. Flag of America in 1912

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Nineteen Days Following My own Advice

I had it all planned out.

Import my whole family tree - one chunk at a time, into WikiTree. Connect all branches to existing people as I go. Cleanup the gedcom computer generated irrelevant stuff and add pictures and some new sources.


Follow my passion, join the European Aristocrats project, and


Except that,

I didn't follow my plan. I couldn't wait any longer, to go to work on the surety barons of Magna Carta 1215, or William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, or - well, you get the idea.

So, I'm still working on my Oregon Trail ancestors and other recent relatives. In between adding Medieval Lands to the sources section of Bigod, Clare, Percy, Vere, and so on. I uploaded pictures of Chepstow Castle and Pembroke Castle to William Marshal Jr. yesterday.

 Is it possible to consider these amazing monuments and not fall into a reverie on the lives of their builders?

Pembroke Castle on the Pembroke River, Wikimedia Commons, image in public domain.

Chepstow Castle, Monmouthshire, Wales, Wikimedia Commons copyright Dennis Turner, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

Friday, February 7, 2014

What are your passions?

The uniform advice for a happy life in popular psychology and self-help books is: follow your passion. 

If you have a passion for cooking, enjoy it to the last bite. However you express it: friends over for dinner; chef in a restaurant; assembling a cookbook; your own catering business: which ever way you find to express your passion for cooking, do your thing, enjoy what you love.

This advice is not as easy to follow as it sounds. Take genealogy, for instance (well, of course). There are nearly as many ways to follow your genealogy passion as their are genealogists. You could:

volunteer at the local genealogy society

make a family tree scrapbook for your grandchildren

organize a family reunion

collect old family photographs and curate them

travel around the country interviewing cousins and grandparents for a 'Who's Who in the Smith Family"

watch episodes of "Who Do You Think You Are?"

take genealogy courses

create your family tree on a website and share it with relatives

Any or all of the above would express a passion for genealogy.

The question is: what particular activities do you enjoy most or are best at doing (frequently the same thing). After four months exploring WikiTree, I have discovered some things I enjoy most, and other things I am not so very good at doing. Fortunately, there are others who have different tastes and different talents, so it all gets covered.

Specifically, I have found I most like the focused, quiet, scholarly activities which go into creating a well-documented biography of an ancestor. The first project I joined at WikiTree, Profile of the Week, still fits me the best. It only took me four months to figure it out. In the process, I discovered what a complete and caring community is WikiTree. 

Shh-sh. Don't tell anybody. It's our secret.