Fixing Powerful Family tree Issues

On this article I take a look at a structured method to analysing and fixing these difficult issues that happen in our household historical past analysis. It includes six principal steps, which any genealogist can comply with.

Elsewhere in my weblog you will see that a four-part case examine titled The Girl Who Fell From The Skies, so referred to as as a result of I had a feminine ancestor, Mary Jane Hyland, who appeared on the altar in 1894 to marry my great-great-grandfather, however I might discover no convincing matches for her earlier life. It was as if she had by some means fallen from the skies on her wedding ceremony day having by no means beforehand existed. The case examine appeared intimately at how I addressed this drawback and, finally, solved it.

This text goals to put out the methodology I used to unravel that case. In my day job I’m an Operations Supervisor for a big consulting enterprise. I spend my days working with enterprise groups, serving to them to optimise their approaches to fixing issues after which documenting the brand new best-practice method. Except a course of is clearly documented then it may well’t simply be re-used, improved or, within the worst case, torn up and began once more.

A phrase in regards to the thought of a “best-practice” method to genealogical drawback fixing.

  • It doesn’t imply it’s the finest method in all circumstances, nor that it’s fool-proof, nor that it’s by some means deemed an formally sanctioned or authorized method. Within the collaborative and private world of household historical past nothing can ever aspire to have an “official” standing, no matter meaning.
  • It doesn’t imply that it’s immutable and may by no means change. If higher concepts come alongside that may make a best-practice method simpler or environment friendly then it’s best-practice to undertake these adjustments.
  • It doesn’t imply that it needs to be adopted slavishly or blindly. Your particular person drawback could profit from some completely different considering, however a best-practice method may give you a great place to begin.
  • It does imply that others have street examined it and located it to be a passable method for a lot of comparable forms of issues. When you strive it, you may discover it useful too.

The Six Steps

1. Outline the Drawback

When getting down to resolve a difficult genealogical drawback, it’s most necessary to have the ability to clearly outline what your goal is. What’s going to outline success?

Generally we see household historical past as a unending cycle of problem-research-solution, with out there essentially being an outlined finish purpose. Many people need to carry on pushing again via the generations till we fully exhaust the doable proof.

For the needs of fixing powerful issues although, we have to clearly say:

  • what’s the state of my analysis of this drawback?
  • what’s the particular sticking level that I’ve?
  • what do I must do to maneuver this ahead?

Within the case of Mary Jane Hyland, I needed to work backwards from her marriage to seek out proof of her earlier life, together with her beginning and the names of her mother and father.

2. Create a Timeline

Re-examine and evaluation all the present proof you have got referring to the particular person of curiosity. Are you assured that every piece is right, totally researched (you probably did return to the unique file picture, not simply work from a transcript proper?), undoubtedly to your goal particular person and never another person, and so forth.? Be thorough and sincere with your self. When you come throughout one thing that, with hindsight, you’re uncertain about, put that to at least one facet. Maybe you could set a separate analysis goal to confirm that information merchandise extra totally?

Collate all the present proof you have got referring to the particular person of curiosity and write it out right into a chronological checklist. It ought to embrace all life occasions that you already know about for them and for members of their fast household. Just remember to have a full supply quotation for every merchandise – there may be nothing worse than realising that you would be able to now not bear in mind the place you picked up a bit of proof. And knowledge with no quotation can’t be thought-about as genealogical proof!

After getting the total timeline, search for gaps. Are there some areas of the particular person’s life that you just haven’t totally researched? In that case, go away and do the analysis to fill the hole. There could also be necessary extra clues which are hiding within the gaps.

In Mary Jane Hyland’s case, taking a look at gaps within the timeline confirmed me that:

  • She had had a earlier engagement that hadn’t proceeded to marriage.
  • I discovered extra proof which steered she could have been born in Liverpool moderately than Eire.

Creating the timeline helped me to cease having “tunnel imaginative and prescient” about just one or two information factors for Mary Jane. I began to have a look at her complete life in context.

3. Analyse the Timeline

After getting the timeline, learn it from high to backside. What questions does it elevate? What questions does it reply? Are there widespread elements, patterns or tendencies that may result in clues? May these clues lead you to extra proof?

After I analysed Mary Jane’s timeline I discovered some fascinating elements that remoted information factors wouldn’t essentially have offered:

  • She was literate, writing with a assured hand, so she will need to have had elementary training on the very least.
  • She by no means omitted her center title. A helpful clue – I’d have the ability to eradicate alternate candidates who solely referred to as themselves Mary.
  • Her purported 12 months of beginning various significantly from file to file. One other helpful clue – I shouldn’t essentially low cost data that suggest a unique 12 months of beginning to my preliminary expectations.
  • Spiritual denomination was persistently Church of England. This weakened the case that she could have come from Eire the place >80% of individuals had been Catholic.
  • Taking the above along with extra proof about Liverpool as a possible hometown, I grew to become certain that I ought to analysis doable origins of Mary Jane in Liverpool moderately than Eire.

Analysing the timeline didn’t resolve the issue immediately, however it did assist to shift the course of my considering and pointed me in the best course.

4. Assemble the Case

Making any case in family tree depends on one key query. Are you able to present that two items of proof from completely different locations and instances relate to the identical particular person?

Typically this can be a trivial drawback. The place the particular person doesn’t transfer, lives in a small group, has a sufficiently distinctive title or different constant information level (corresponding to date of beginning, occupation, names of oldsters, siblings, and so forth.) then making the hyperlink might be easy. All of us make these kinds of hyperlinks day-after-day that we do genealogical analysis, they’re so commonplace that we hardly really feel the necessity to declare or show of our considering. We use this method to create timelines for people and households, they’re merely sequences of particular person items of proof that we’ve efficiently linked collectively.

Often once we’re attempting to unravel a troublesome drawback nevertheless, it’s as a result of there’s a scarcity of corroborative proof to say whether or not a bit of proof we’ve discovered might be connected to a person’s timeline with confidence.

One strategy to tackle this drawback is to lasso two teams of candidates, one group within the earlier time and place, one group within the later time and place. For Mary Jane Hyland, that may seem like this:

Two swimming pools of candidates

The issue is easy methods to definitively hyperlink one-and-only-one previous candidate with one-and-only-one future candidate.

Backward Trying Elimination of Candidates
Begin from the identified particular person (in my case the 1894 Mary Jane Hyland who married John Bowers) and establish all doable earlier candidates. Then eradicate the candidates one after the other till just one stays. If this candidate matches all the knowledge you already know then they grow to be your prime candidate.

Backward trying elimination of candidates

However what if you’re unable to totally eradicate all bar one candidate or the evaluation throws up sudden unfastened ends? Is {that a} unhealthy factor? After all not. It simply means that you’re unearthing different proof which may be doubtlessly related to the case. You could examine these unfastened ends and sudden outcomes. They might change the course of the issue totally, or they is likely to be not more than slight bumps within the street that dissolve away after extra investigation.

Within the case of Mary Jane Hyland, my preliminary candidates had been all eradicated as their father’s title didn’t match my Mary Jane’s father. It was solely on additional investigation that I discovered that my Mary Jane was lacking from the candidate checklist as a result of the census had been mistranscribed on each Discover My Previous and Ancestry. After resolving that drawback I used to be left with one and just one backward trying candidate.

5. Show the Case

To show that the prime candidate is the best one, it’s essential to reverse the view.

Ahead Trying Elimination of Candidates
Ranging from the prime candidate, establish all doable future candidates. Then eradicate the candidates one after the other till just one stays.

Ahead trying elimination of candidates

As soon as full, this leaves simply two candidates, one from the sooner time and place, one from the later time and place:

Efficiently Linked Candidates

That is important verification of the prime candidate. With out this step you would discover that the particular person you thought you had recognized as your ancestor the truth is married another person, died or emigrated. This might be a poor consequence after all of your efforts. So I implore you, take the ultimate step to confirm that your candidate is the solely doable candidate.

In Mary Jane’s case, I discovered seven potential future candidates that may have associated to my prime candidate. I used to be capable of eradicate among the candidates by way of on-line searches. For the ultimate three I needed to resort to buying some civil registration certificates (two marriages and one dying). With the additional data offered on the certificates I used to be capable of eradicate them, leaving simply the one forward-looking candidate, my great-great-grandmother. This was an costly resolution to the issue, however value it.

6. Shut Case / Redefine the Drawback

Earlier than you declare the case closed, look once more at any conflicting proof that you just discovered throughout your investigation. Evaluate it within the context of your full findings and are available to an sincere view about it. Does it fatally undermine the case? Does it partially undermine the case, maybe suggesting extra avenues of analysis? Or is it totally explicable within the context of your findings?

Don’t be shy about highlighting conflicting data. Our ancestors had been three dimensional folks with advanced lives and human frailties. It’s (very) uncommon to seek out any ancestor who’s documented in a completely constant method all through their whole life. You probably have discovered no conflicting data then you definately may ask your self why? There ought to all the time be some.

If there may be conflicting data which doesn’t undermine your case, what are you able to be taught from the inconsistencies?

In Mary Jane’s case there have been two key parts of inconsistency: her purported 12 months of beginning and her hometown. It was as a result of this stuff had been inconsistent that I needed to undertake such an in depth investigation within the first place. I’m completely satisfied to say that these had been each fairly simply handled. Her reported age various considerably all through her life and easily appears to have been sample of behaviour – I suppose it was as true within the nineteenth century as it’s right this moment, that you need to by no means ask a girl her age! In any case the additional analysis I used to be capable of present that she had solely ever as soon as claimed to be from Eire – it simply occurred to be the very first piece of proof I discovered about her and it led to me growing “tunnel imaginative and prescient” about her homeland. The fault was mine, not hers! I additionally discovered that each her mother and father had been born in Eire, so which will clarify why she had claimed Irish heritage on that one event. I used to be completely satisfied that neither of this stuff undermined the solidity of the case.

If the conflicting data undermines your case then moderately than closing the case totally, you need to shut this section of the case and outline the brand new drawback you could resolve. Now you may cycle again to the beginning of the method and work on this new analysis goal.

Final, however not least, write down your conclusions. You might have gone via an in depth and meticulous evaluation course of, it’s vitally necessary that you just (and different, future genealogists) are capable of totally assess the method that you just went via and validate the outcomes. Now we have all seen on-line analysis that has too little in the best way of proof and validation. As cautious genealogists, what can we do with unsupported assertions? We ignore them or completely re-investigate them. Don’t let your effectively structured, effectively thought out evaluation be ignored since you didn’t clarify that your conclusions are constructed on intensive analysis and rigorous, repeatable analyses and arguments.

As each step in your loved ones journey ends, it inevitably leads on to the subsequent step. What’s going to that subsequent step be for you? Doc your new analysis goal. It will get you able to kick off the subsequent analysis challenge.

For Mary Jane Hyland, it was the top of the case. My subsequent steps might be to analyze the lives and origins of her mother and father.

Overview Diagram

I want you luck along with your researches. Let me know within the feedback beneath if any of the concepts on this article had been helpful to you.