Saturday, September 1, 2007

Another Chapter...

Yesterday afternoon, an letter by Kendall Hulet (a manager at Ancestry.com) responding to the uproar over Ancestry's Internet Biographical Collection, was posted on Ancestry's blog. You can read the letter here.

I don't think I need to post anything further on this issue as other genealogy bloggers have commented on this letter. Among those are:

I do not doubt that there are other genealogy bloggers who have commented on this letter; I just haven't had the time to read all of the blogs. I am sorry if I have not mentioned anyone.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Well, Believe This Or Not

I just checked Ancestry.com's blog and found out that Ancestry has decided to take off the internet its Internet Biography Database. You can read the rest of the article here.

What I find interesting is that Ancestry has labeled the uproar over its behavior as "concerns about the collection." If a person has not already read about the issue on other genealogy blogs, that person might get the impression that it was not an uproar, when in fact it really was. In short, if a person just happened to only see Ancestry's latest blog article, they would not be aware that many genealogists/family historians were angry and outraged over what Ancestry did.

This blog article also states, "We have decided to remove this collection and search engine from Ancestry.com for the time being." Interesting. Does Ancestry intend to only remove this database temporarily and repost it when the uproar has died down? I guess that means that the genealogy community needs to stay on the alert when it comes to new databases that Ancestry posts.

If you want to read my post on the database issue, click here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My Two Cents on Ancestry's Internet Biography Database

Throughout this evening, I have read several blog articles about Ancestry's Internet Biography database, and I couldn't help but add my two cents to this issue.

Originally, Ancestry required a paying membership in order to view this database, but the database was turned into a free database earlier today because of the uproar over Ancestry's actions.

Personally, what Ancestry did was ethically and morally wrong. I don't know if Ancestry could be held legally liable for its behavior because I am not a lawyer. I don't have that answer, but what I do know is that it is unethical to take information off the internet and put into a database without the author or owner's consent. According to other bloggers, their information was obtained without their consent, and they did not give Ancestry their consent. (To me, it appears to be plagiarism, but I don't believe that Ancestry's behavior technically would fall under that category.) And Ancestry did not pay those people any money for the use of their information. Even though it is now a free database, technically, one could argue that they did make some money off of it when a person was still required to pay to access this database. But, again, I don't know if Ancestry could face legal repercussions for this or not because I'm not a lawyer. What I do know, though, is that Ancestry's behavior is blatantly dishonest from a moral standpoint. People try to teach their children to be honest, but when children see companies behave dishonestly, I don't believe they walk away with the idea that honesty is right, especially when they see dishonest companies profit.

Of course, other bloggers have written much more eloquently than I on this subject, and some of those articles are:

This list is not comprehensive; I've only linked to a few of the blog articles, and I have no doubt that there are more.

I will have to say, though, that I will be much more careful in the future with whatever I post, and from now on, I will not name any of my ancestors, if I even decide to write about my research at all.

A Little Movie I Created...

I just created this little movie earlier today. It is a movie about the different stages of life, and it showcases different times in one man's life. It's just supposed to be a fun, little movie.


video

Update at 8:40 p.m.: In case anyone is curious as to where I obtained the graphics, my post on my daily blog explains where they came from.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Added a Poll

I just added a poll to see how far back other people have researched their family history. It is just for fun, and I will write about the results after the poll closes in the next two weeks.

Classes Begin

Today, classes begin at my university, and that has led me to think about our ancestors and what school was like for them. That is, if they went to school at all. In our world, today, children are required by law to go to school up to a certain age, but laws requiring attendance did not always exist. Or if our ancestors went to school, they may have only gone to school for a few years, especially if they lived on a farm. I don't know how many years my great-grandfather went to school, but according to my grandfather, his education amounted to the equivalent of a fourth grade reading level. As for my great-great-grandfather, I don't even know how long he went to school or if he did go to school.

Of course, if our ancestors went to school there should be some evidence that they did. These are a few record types where one might find evidence for an ancestor's education:

  • Yearbooks (I realize this one is an obvious one, but these books might not necessarily be high school yearbooks. My middle school also had yearbooks.)
  • Biographies (Biographies of prominent members of an area may indicate whether an ancestor went to school or not.)
  • Family Stories or Traditions (I know you still must verify your information, but you might be able to obtain accurate information on how much of an education that your grandparents or your great-grandparents obtained, from those who remember past generations.)
  • Legal documents (These might not be necessarily be documents that state how much of an education a person obtained, but documents such as wills, deeds or pension files can indicate whether or not a person went to school through that person's signature or lack of one.)
  • School pictures (Again, I realize this is an obvious source, but finding an ancestor in an old school picture will indicate that that ancestor did attend school at one point. My grandma still has a photo of her class in elementary school.)
  • Census Records (Some censuses will indicate if an ancestor is in school and possibly hint at when an ancestor was in school and not.)
  • Old licenses (Primarily of professions, such as medicine or law, might indicate whether a person had a formal education or not.)

There are probably many more sources that one can find that would indicate whether or not a person obtained an education, but most of the sources I have listed above are sources that are part of the public record. Some school districts probably had their own censuses or cards with a student's information; however, a person may not be able to obtain those records for legal reasons. (I do have one old school district card, that I found in some family papers, that lists information on a student's family and which school that student attended.) Even though I just listed some records, there are other genealogists who have written articles on where one could find records. Other articles on school records include:

These are just two articles that I quickly found. I don't doubt that there are others. If anyone else knows about other school records, please feel free to leave a comment. I can always add an update listing other people's suggestions. Thanks.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

An Interesting Picture ...


I took a walk around my campus earlier today, and took some pictures. This is one of the pictures, and it is of a historical marker that I found on my campus. I realize the quality of this picture is poor, but I did read the marker. According to this marker, this area of my college's campus used to be a settlement. This settlement was involved in Michigan's lumbering industry over a hundred and fifty years ago. (For those who don't know, lumbering was a major industry in Michigan, especially northern Michigan, in the nineteenth century). I don't think most people would care or expect to find a historical marker on their campus. I guess this just goes to show you that you can find history where ever you go or look for it. Even if your college is fairly young compared to other college campuses.
To see other pictures I took and posted to another one of my blogs, click here.

Added Another History Blog

Today I found another history blog and added it to my history blog list. The history blog added is:
  • Maggie's History of American Women

You can find this blog on the lower left hand of this page. Any other suggestions for history blogs are welcome.