Sunday, August 05, 2007

Rootsweb, and how to Use it

How to search the mailing list archives:

List Archives: start at to browse, or click the Search link to search one or all of the Rootsweb lists. if you don't know what list you want.

Formulaically - Archiver (browse):

One wonderful tool Rootsweb has, that many people fail to use, is the Post-Em. You can place Post-Ems on individual records found in WorldConnect, the Social Security Death Index, User-Contributed Databases, and some of the other available vital records databases.

Don't forget to register your research interests in the Rootsweb Surname List. If you have a website, add a link to the RootsWeb Resource Pages. If you don't have a website yet, get one! Once you have created it, register it.

Search all of Rootsweb with Google, by clicking Advanced Search, filling in your search terms, and then putting into the line 'Domain: ONLY return results from the site or domain.' Shortcut - put your search term(s) then, like this: searchterm . If you wanted to search all of freepages, you could use: searchterm .

Joan Young recently published an article in Rootsweb Review which highlighted a number of oft-forgetten little useful tools at Rootsweb. Read the article for more detail, but here are links to some of them:Hint for those using Outlook Express to read Rootsweb list digests: To read inline, instead of displayed as separate attachments, highlight the first Digest item which is called ATT, then hold down the control key and click on the F3 key while still holding down the control key to open the message source. Maximize it, and you will then be able to read the entire Digest as a continuous document.

Don't sit down and wait for the opportunities to come; you have to get up and make them. - Madame C. J. Walker

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Genealogy, or Family History?

I read a wonderful comment today on Dick Eastman's site, by Geoff Riggs
...Genealogy is the bones - gathering of the facts about ones ancestors such as names, dates, places. Family History is 'putting the flesh on the bones' - finding the stories, history, geography, and so forth that shaped the lives of our ancestors.

Rudyard Kipling wrote:
I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who

I added a second verse to this some years ago:
For pure Genealogists
'Who, When and Where?' suffice
But Family Historians>
Add 'Why, What, How?' for spice

Only the curious will learn and only the resolute overcome the obstacles to learning. The quest quotient has always excited me more than the intelligence quotient. - Eugene S. Wilson

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Word of the Day: Prosopography


the study of collective biography, for individuals of a certain group (social class, profession, time frame, geographic origin, etc.). By accumulating data on individuals in a group, one learns more about the group. The term may have been coined by anthropologists but it is widely used among medieval historians, particularly social historians. - Nathaniel Taylor,

Prosopography is an important methodological tool within historical research, its goal being the collection of all known information about individuals within a given period, often in the form of a register or database (frequently also known as a "Prosopography", e.g. The Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire).

Thanks to Sharon Sergeant of the APG list for introducing me to this term. She references Mel Wolfgang's presentation Researching 'Birds of a Feather': How Prosopography, Cluster Studies, and Record Linkage Techniques Can Help Put New Leaves On Your Family Tree, which she says, "drew unending raves from attendees, who were previously scratching their heads about the word prosopography." The lecture was in 2006 Massachusetts Genealogical Council (MGC) annual seminar.

Sharon says, "Mel continues providing his eye-opening techniques at the PMC in Fort Wayne with If You Think You've Looked Everywhere... It's Time to Think Again

What a grand term for the enduring principle to get around brick walls in research -- if you can't go back, you must go wide, and research kith, kin, co-workers, fellow church members, neighbors, the community, and all in-law connections.

You can access Sharon's post in the list archives:

Nothing we do changes the past. Everything we do changes the future. - Joan Chittister

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