GeneaGem: Elements of Genealogical Analysis by Robert Charles Anderson, FASG

Today’s GeneaGem is unique – it is the only book that I have added to this category and it is not free.

Elements of Genealogical Analysis by Robert Charles Anderson, FASG, and published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society in 2014 is a true GeneaGem for methodology techniques in genealogical researching. Cost is $24.95, but there is a discount for NEHGS members.

Why is a book in my GeneaGems list?

Robert Charles Anderson is the gentleman who developed and directed The Great Migration Project, covering New England immigrants from 1620-1640. He also is a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, one of only 50 genealogists at any given time who have been elected to this lifetime honor.

His work is top notch and Elements of Genealogical Analysis outlines the methodology he used while researching the immigrants in The Great Migration Project.

The best thing about this book is that it is very readable AND, more importantly, any researcher, whether a newbie or one who has researched for decades, can use these same techniques in his/her own research.

The book is divided into two parts – Analytic Tools and Problem-Solving Sequence. There are also four appendices – Glossary, The Three Paradigms, GENTECH Genealogical Data Model and Forgery.

Mr. Anderson’s methodology is based on his two “Fundamental Rules”:

  1. You must have a sound, explicit reason for saying that any two individual records refer to the same perso.
  2. All statements must be based only on accurately reported, careful documented, and exhaustively analyzed records.

Part One delves into the analysis of records that the genealogist uses to determine the quality of the information being reviewed.

Part Two covers how to go about analyzing what type of record you have, how many records you have pertaining to someone with the same name and how to analyze and synthesize your findings.

What is really great about this book is the heavy use of examples of various types of records that you will come across in your research. While most of the examples pertain to New England, the types of records are found everywhere so it doesn’t really matter if the example is from Braintree, Massachusetts, Oregon, Canada or Europe.

While this description and some of the terms used (like linkage bundle)  might sound a bit esoteric, it is a very practical guide to becoming/continuing to be an accurate, careful researcher. It takes academic type concepts and applies them to every day genealogical research. You can’t ask for more if you want your work to be respected by others.

This is a book that every serious family historian should have in his/her personal library!




Occupational Pedigree Charts

Back at the end of March, J. Paul Hawthorne started a pedigree chart craze by sharing an Excel-created chart of birthplaces of his ancestors. That was actually a follow up to an earlier craze creating cause-of-death pedigree charts.

I decided to try another variation of this idea, looking at family occupations. Comparing my family with my husband’s, it isn’t surprising at all to see that the occupations are totally different because the places where they lived had different climates, businesses and ethnic groups.

I chose to keep the color coding the same as on the birthplace charts, as they help explain some of the jobs that our ancestors did.

Sabo Occupation Pedigree Chart

Color codes:
Yellow = New Jersey
Green = Slovakia
Turquoise = Maine
Light blue = Canada
Purple = Denmark

Stufflebean Occupation Pedigree Chart

Color codes:
Gray = California
Red = Oklahoma
Purple = Missouri
Orange = Texas
Light green = Tennessee
Dark green = Kentucky
Yellow = Arkansas
Light blue = Virginia
Dark blue = Ohio

Analyzing the occupations, it is easy to understand some of the differences.

1. Both my husband and I were the first generation to graduate from college and we also both went on to earn master’s degrees.
2. In my family, all the ancestors in dark green boxes were from Slovakia and all were poor tenant farmers trying to eke out a living and support a family on a sliver of poor land. That brought on the mass exodus from small villages to the U.S. They were all in search of a better life.
3. My boat builder, tug captain and master mariners lived on coastal Maine and New Brunswick, Canada. They were drawn to life on the water.
4. In the fifth generation, I had only one farmer left after many earlier generations.
5. I think many “at home mothers” were a bit unusual for the time periods in which they lived because it was well before the post-World War II era when middle class moms often did not work outside the home.
6. Perhaps not surprising because they lived in more rural areas, there were still a number of farmers in the Stufflebean family in the 5th and even the 4th generations.
7. Don’t be fooled by the higher number of “at home mothers” in this chart. The fact is that those women were very hard working farm wives who put in very long days. They were not the June Cleaver at home moms of the 1950s.
8. Several Stufflebean ancestors worked for themselves – the store owner and the house painter.
9. Even though the grow of factories and mills exploded in the late 1800s, few of our ancestors worked in them and for the handful that did, they didn’t work in them for long.
10. The U.S. is often called the land of opportunity with parents all hoping for an improved standard of living for their children. It’s apparent from our occupation charts that our families changed with the times and pretty much reflected a better standard of life with each new generation.

Visiting the DAR Library in Washington, DC

Not long ago, I had an opportunity to visit the DAR Library in Washington, DC. I have been there before as I’ve been a Daughter for 35 years and I have been lucky enough to visit our nation’s capital multiple times. However, I am always amazed by both the beauty of the building and the quality of the library.

The DAR Library is located at 1776 D Street, N.W. and there is little chance that you would miss it.

The entrance to the library is actually just to the right of the steps where the DAR banners are hanging.

The NSDAR library website has the following description of its holdings:

The DAR Library collection contains over 225,000 books, 10,000 research files, thousands of manuscript items, and special collections of African American, Native American, and women’s history, genealogy and culture. Nearly 40,000 family histories and genealogies comprise a major portion of the book collection, many of which are unique or available in only a few libraries in the country.

There are a couple of misconceptions about this gem. You do not have to be a DAR member to use the library. Until a couple of years ago, there was a $10 fee for non-members to research there, but that fee has been dropped. Access is free to all; the only restriction on public visits is in late June-early July during Continental Congress, which is the DAR national convention. During that week, only Daughters may use the library, simply because of numbers.

Upon entering the building, you will check in at the security window and receive a visitor’s badge. As you enter the library, the reference desk is on the left.

You can already get a sense of how beautiful this library is. The library was the original meeting room for the ladies before they outgrew the space and moved into the larger Hall.

The library is just about jaw-droppingly beautiful.

One view

See those white rectangular things on the second floor? Those are actually rolling book shelves, full of fabulous genealogy books!

After taking in the room, it is sometimes a bit difficult to settle down and work, even for genealogy, but the work space is also beautiful:

Researcher Seating

The chairs are comfy modern, while the tables are vintage old wood with lots of new lighting.

While this is very much a “book” library (as in brick and mortar building), some of its holdings are becoming accessible online. Although its online databases are somewhat limited, they are growing.

How do you find anything here? At the library entrance, there are a series of handouts and brochures about the library. Among the most important are the floor maps:

Since the organization of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution 125 years ago, members have regularly canvassed friends, family and neighborhoods gathering genealogical data from Bible records, letters, and other types of unique resources.

While the library has an impressive book collection, many of the books are not unique or hard to find at other genealogical repositories. Those unique records gathered by the Daughters through the years – the membership file documentation,  research files, manuscripts and special collections are what makes this library stand out.

Research help is also available. In addition to the books, the library presents Genealogy 101 classes on an itinerant schedule:

And, since you are already in the building, take some time to visit the world-class DAR Museum:

Not only are there rotating exhibitions, there are period rooms representing many of the states. Docents give frequent tours.

 If you find yourself in Washington, DC, make a note to yourself to visit and tour the DAR buildings at 1776 D Street, N.W. Allow yourself plenty of time to learn about their history and to do some research at this wonderful library.

Photos were all taken by me in April 2016. Library and museum brochures and papers are available free at the DAR Library.