Tuesday, March 10, 2015

(Two) Weekly round-up w/e 27 Feb & 7 Mar 2015

Other activities have been occupying me again recently and, by the time it got to Wednesday of last week, I gave up on the good intentions of posting a (late) summary for the previous week. 

So here's a [now late] one for the fortnight instead!

FindMyPast's new releases in the first week included "Britain, Trade Union Members, Service & Casualties 1914-1918", with 31 Parrys, so that might be useful for additional information when I pull together all the data on the 1st World War.   There was also a 'browse only' version of the Trade Union Membership Registers, which I am unlikely to explore for the Parrys (but which might come in useful for researching my grandfather, John ALLEN, who I believe was a "father of chapel" in one of the unions).  FMP also released details of "Manchester Cholera Victims, 1832" (no Parrys) and over 1.6 million Irish Newspaper Articles (almost 30,000 Parry references). 

Fortunately, the latter database required a World (or Irish?) subscription, which I don't have, so I will not be adding those to my "to do" list.  (FMP promptly announced a "free weekend" - but I was not able to take advantage of that.)

It appears that Ancestry had added the 'England and Wales, Death Index, 2007-2013' back in January but, for some reason, it only came to my attention last week. There are 57 entries with Parry as a first name and 921 with it as a surname (plus one spelt Parrey).

One of the issues I often consider, particularly with conducting a fairly large one-name study, is, "How do you establish an 'individual'?", ie a unique person that can be represented in a family tree program. There are many Parrys alive today - they are obviously unique individuals.  If I knew them all, I could enter their names into the one-name study family tree program, because they clearly exist.  And, if I had time to ask them about all the relevant records relating to them, I could then attach details of those records, such as their birth registration, educational records, marriage information, addresses, occupations, etc., to their person record in the family tree program.  

But, usually, we are working the other way round - the people are dead and we just have the multitude of records we collect, which we are trying to put together ourselves, in order to construct an account, or representation, of that person's life.  We know that the many references, in documents, on websites, in databases, and books etc., do still all relate to particular individuals - but we don't necessarily know which individual a particular reference relates to.

It would be foolish to create a new person record for every documentary reference, as many references from difference sources might all relate to the same person.  But most of us have met researchers who have attached the wrong record to a person in their tree, or ended up following the "wrong" line.  We may even have done so ourselves.  So how do we decide what references actually fit together?  How do we know when we have sufficient evidence for the existence of a unique individual?  Some sources are more reliable than others and for me, the intention has always been to try to use these in order to establish a framework of unique individuals in the family tree program, that references in other, less specific, sources can then be attached to.   

A birth and a death are the two events we can guarantee everyone should just have one episode of, but I have always been a bit wary of using the "Vital records", ie the official records of life events, such as birth and death registrations, as the basis of the framework, even though, for the UK, the BMD registrations are usually the starting point for a one-namer.  But the lack of detailed information in the UK indexes makes it difficult to match up every registration to any other information I gather.  And, although recording started in England and Wales in 1837, we know that up until 1874, registration was not compulsory so not all births were registered.  In other areas of the UK, the start date for civil registration was later.  Elsewhere in the world, there are no doubt also issues regarding the reliability of such "vital records" .

My preference has therefore always been to use the censuses to establish the framework - because of the way these were carried out, a census entry should always relate to a specific person, alive on that day, and not represented anywhere else ("should" being the operative word - there are cases of people appearing twice!)  So, in theory, all the census entries for one particular census year are therefore a snapshot of the Parry population at that time, a 'framework' of unique individuals that other facts can then be attached to.  The birth and death indexes can be used to explain changes in the Parry population between censuses, even if the individual entries cannot be matched up.

The last available UK census is the 1911 - but by that time, the civil registration indexes for births and deaths start to contain more information.  So perhaps the release of this latest death registration information on Ancestry is actually a good starting point for an alternative method of building my framework, working backwards from "now".   That would also avoid any risk of listing living individuals, which might happen if I was relying primarily on the birth indexes.

Talking of deaths, I have been slowly continuing to gather information relating to WW1.  Last week I did look at the Lives of the First World War site  (https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/search ) A search for Parry finds 4313 entries under "Life Stories".  This includes people with Parry as a first name, as well as normal surname use and in a double barrelled form.  Further work is needed to analyse the data but what struck me initially is that only 37 out of the 4313 have someone "remembering" them.  I hope we can improve that over time.

During the last Guild Hangout, we were discussing websites and I mentioned my intention to transfer to using Word Press, rather than writing the Parry ONS site in html.  I was asked why, so I mentioned the (hoped for) ease of updating such a site. But I have realised over this week, that ease of publication still doesn't mean things get posted!  There are also still many things to learn about WP - like how easy it is to include pages with the formatting, or large image layout, that I have on my "personal DNA" page (at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/im.griffiths/parryfamilyhistory/personaldnatree.htm ) or my "Parrys of the Golden Valley" page (at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/im.griffiths/parryfamilyhistory/parrytrees/gvfull.htm ).  Resolving issues like these will be essential if I am to transfer my website to WP. 

One of my aims for this current week is to continue work on the World War 1 information.  I also intend to convert the Parry DNA project at FTDNA to the new Groups format.  I am glad I didn't have time to do this when possibility was first announced - having waited a few weeks, some of the initial issues have now been resolved. 

Sometimes it's useful *not* to be at the forefront of changes, and to be a bit behind everybody else!