What’s up?

When I started this year I didn’t intend that my blog would go silent. I thought it would be business-as-usual, with at least a good though-provoking post every so often. Sadly, as the year went on, the posts got less and less frequent.

Rest assured, though, I am not disappearing—just reorganizing my priorities. I will try to continue to post as much as I can, but my efforts in the field of genealogy are being refocused.

Among some of the things I have been working on this year:

  • I taught at three major institutes, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (in January), the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (in June), and the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (in July).
  • I have written several articles published in various journals: two in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (December 2012 and March 2013), one in the Maryland Genealogical Society Journal, and one in Chinook, the magazine of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Several other articles have been written and are pending publication, one of which even (gasp) involves research into my own family. Even more articles are in various stages of completion.
  • I have been assisting with the creation of the Southern Appalachians Genealogical Association. I am serving as Editor of the annual Journal. If any of my readers have an interest in the Southern Appalachians region, please join the society and consider writing for the Journal. The call for submissions is posted on their website.
  • You may have seen me on the Chris O’Donnell episode of Who Do You Think You Are? That was fun. I am also credited (though I do not appear on-screen) for my research in the Christina Applegate episode.
  • I have continued to serve my term on the Board of Directors for the Association of Professional Genealogists. I also served as Chapter Representative of Greater Philadelphia Area chapter of APG, helping with the chapter’s organization and incorporation into the APG—a process now complete! Unfortunately I will be stepping down from both of these positions next year.
  • This month, I was elected to a three-year term on the Board of Trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. I am looking forward to being able to contribute what I can in this position.
  • Supplementing my genealogical activities, I have also been taking several online courses to continue my own education in several subjects. Some of these relate indirectly to my work in genealogy; some do not. You may soon witness the incorporation of some of these topics into my educational offerings.
  • There are a few other projects I have been working on as well, but I am not at liberty to tell you about them yet. As soon as I can tell you, I will.

You might notice some trends.

When I first began my career as a professional genealogist, I wanted to focus on two things: writing/publishing and promoting higher standards for research. Over the years, in not wanting to turn down opportunities, I became involved in other endeavors. I spread myself too thin. So this year I decide to reassess my career goals, and have been moving away from anything that did not further my goals. My new activities will (hopefully) continue to reflect these goals.

Be patient with me. I plan to soon regain some semblance of balance in posting to the blog. I may not post as often as I once did, but it should be more often than it has been recently.

Michael

U. S. Genealogy Writer’s Market

19 August 2013

Dear Genealogy Periodical Editors:

How do genealogical authors find your publication?

Genealogy periodicals—from popular magazines to state and national journals to the newsletters of local genealogical societies—are vital to the genealogy community.

Among other vital roles, periodicals

  • educate genealogists about records and research methodology;
  • enable genealogists with similar research interests to communicate with each other;
  • share local, national, and international news of concern to genealogists; and
  • allow researchers to publish the fruits of their research efforts.

Despite this central position in the genealogy community, there exists no central resource bringing together all of the genealogy periodicals published in the United States.

To do this we plan to publish the first U. S. Genealogy Writer’s Market in early 2014. This book will list basic details about genealogy periodicals, so that genealogical researchers and prospective writers can quickly and easily locate their ideal publishing markets.

In order to do this we need your help—just fill out the short online questionnaire at this address:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GWM-Editors

Please feel free to alert other editors to this project. If you have any questions or comments, please contact either of us at our respective emails.

Harold Henderson, CG

librarytraveler@gmail.com

Michael Hait, CG

Copyright, plagiarism, and citing your sources

UPDATE 13 March 2014: Apparently the posts referenced (and linked) in the SlideShare presentation bleow have been removed. Though the offending party has started a new blog, it does not appear that the posts based on my content have also been migrated to the new site (yet). MH

The Code of Ethics of the Association of Professional Genealogists contains two similar statements:

[I therefore agree to:]

2. . . . fully and accurately cite references. . . .

4. . . . refrain from knowingly violating or encouraging others to violate laws and regulations concerning copyright. . . .[1]

At first glance these two issues seem to say more or less the same thing. “Cite your sources”—a refrain I have often repeated in this blog and elsewhere.

There are, however, two separate issues at play here: one of documentation, the other of attribution.

Documentation is ultimately a good research practice, but not necessarily an ethical issue. Is it unwise to jot down that birth date on your family group sheet without noting the death certificate making the claim? Of course it is. One will quickly regret not citing the sources for information. Is it unethical not to cite that death certificate? I’m not so sure that it is.

Violating copyright laws, on the other hand, is definitely unethical (and illegal). Plagiarizing someone else’s work is unethical. Quoting someone else’s work without attribution is unethical. Even copying large portions of someone else’s work with attribution is unethical. For those of us who make a living from our intellectual property, plagiarism and copyright violation quite literally constitute theft.

There simply is no legal or ethical way to copy someone else’s intellectual property. “Fair use” does not allow wholesale copying, despite what one might think–even with a citation of the source. Without attribution, any copying whatsoever  is unacceptable.

Copyright violation and plagiarism have been discussed quite a bit among genealogists lately. Rather than repeat all of the information, I will simply provide this list of recent articles on the subject, most by authors far more knowledgeable on the subject than myself. If you write content for a blog or website or society newsletter or anywhere else as part of your genealogical career, please take the time to educate yourself on this subject.

The following posts all involve recent cases alleging copyright:

Edited to add the following two additional links:

SOURCES:

[1] “Code of Ethics,” Association of Professional Genealogists (http://www.apgen.org/ethics/index.html : accessed 6 July 2013).

Warming up for genealogy season…

That time of year is upon us again. . .

Genealogy conference season.

Within the past month or so, we have already witnessed the APG Professional Management Conference, RootsTech, the Forensic Genealogy Institute, the New England Regional Genealogy Conference, and the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference.

Next week comes the National Genealogical Society Annual Conference in Las Vegas. Though I am not presenting this year, I will be there, volunteering at both the APG and BCG booths in the Vendor Hall, and just generally hanging around.

From  June 9 to 14, I will be teaching in the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University, in Birmingham, Alabama. This year I will presenting the following classes:

From July 21 to 26, I will be teaching in the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. With John Philip Colletta, Ph.D., FUGA, I will be teaching in the course “Your Immigrant Ancestors’ Stories: Writing a Quality Narrative.” I am teaching the following session within the course:

  • Lineage Presentation and Numbering Systems
  • Evaluating Evidence and the Genealogical Proof Standard
  • Editing and Proofreading
  • Indexing
  • Pilgrims, Adventurers, Servants and Prisoners: Colonial Immigration to North America
  • Creating a Genealogy or Family History on a PC
  • Electronic Venues for Publishing Genealogies and Family Histories

Registration is still open for the course. The early bird registration closes on May 15.

I have a few other events coming up this spring and summer in addition to the big ones:

Hope to see you soon!

 

Historical writing and when to use present tense

As a professional genealogist, much of what I do on a daily basis consists of writing. From client research reports to case studies to instructional articles or blog posts or even books, I probably write on average a half-dozen pages a day, every day. (Aside: in today’s digital world, is it still appropriate to discuss writing in terms of pages? It almost seems a bit like giving directions in terms of time, like “go down that road for seven minutes, then turn left.) This, of course, does not include the volumes of emails I compose and send every day, to clients and colleagues.

Recently Ben Yagoda, a professor of English and journalism at the University of Delaware, posted “Ben Yagoda Gets Sick of the Historical Present” on the Lingua Franca blog—an excellent blog for anyone interested in writing and editing. Mr. Yagoda gives several examples of the historical present tense, a history of its use in various genres of writing, and an exploration of why it might be so popular. He concludes that the tense is “essentially a novelty item. It’s tacky. Give it a rest.” The comments to this post are also quite informative, as a debate arises over the use of the historic present in discussing literature.[1]

There are two basic conventions for use of past and present tense in genealogical writing:

1. When discussing people or events of the past, use the past tense, e.g. “On 9 June 1827 Victoire sold L’Hermitage to John Brien.”

2. When discussing specific documents or records, use the present tense, e.g. “Baptismal records describe Caroline’s children as illegitimate” or “No Joseph Ridgely appears as a Maryland household head in 1820 or 1830 [referring to the federal census].”

The use of the historical present tense in these situations stems from the same logic as the use of the tense when discussing literature. Records exist in the present time. What they say (or don’t say) is said in the present time, when a modern reader reads it. So it would be proper to state that Victoire sold land in 1827, and that the deed describes the property in a certain way. When I look at the deed in 2013 (hypothetically) it says the same thing that it said in 1827.

Other genres tend to use the historical present to describe a past event. As historical writers, however, we should be careful to follow the two conventions mentioned above. Not only does this limit the possibility of confusion, following grammatical conventions simply makes our writing more professional.

SOURCES:

[1] Ben Yagoda, “Ben Yagoda Gets Sick of the Historical Present,” Lingua Franca blog, posted 23 April 2013 (http://chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca : accessed 28 April 2013).

A case for the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine

For many genealogical writers, the “top of the food chain” is to be published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

Other journals carry the same weight in the genealogy world: The Genealogist (published by the American Society of Genealogists) and The American Genealogist (founded by Donald Lines Jacobus, published independently) among them. Most genealogists include the New England Historical and Genealogical Register and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record in the same category.

Then there is the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine.

The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine was first published in January 1895 as Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, Volume I, No. 1. This early date of publication makes PGM the third longest-running genealogical journal in continuous publication, after the Register (1847) and the Record (1870).[1]

This first issue contained the following message to members of the Society, from the Committee on Publication—L. Taylor Dickson, P. S. P. Conner, and Thomas Allen Glenn:

The Board of Directors of the Society has long thought it desirable to place before you some part of the valuable papers from time to time received, and which, if bound up in the regular manuscript volumes of our collections, might not be so available or interesting as if published. Lack of sufficient funds for such a purpose has prevented printing until the present month, when the following pages are issued at a trifling cost, and will, if approved, be continued periodically.[2]

The second issue under the same Committee on Publication was released in July 1896; the delay was certainly due to the continued “[l]ack of sufficient funds.” It contained forty-five pages of abstracts of seventeenth-century Philadelphia wills, followed by lists of the Society’s officers and members, and the Third and Fourth Annual Reports.[3]

The last issue of the Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania was released in the Spring of 1947. That last issue is a milestone for several reasons.

Firstly, in a “Statement of Policy Concerning Future Publications,” the Committee on Publications submitted nine recommendations, among them that the title of the journal be changed to Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and that “lists of tombstone inscriptions, pastoral lists of baptisms, marriages, and burials, and similar data be allotted a much smaller space in future numbers of the Magazine than has been accorded them in the past.”[4]

Secondly, the newly-appointed editor, John Goodwin Herndon, described the new mission of the journal on “The Editor’s Page”:

Readers will notice in the current number two departures from previous practices. . . . The second change which our readers will have noticed is the inclusion herein of certain family studies. . . . We hope that all readers who have interesting and carefully prepared articles ready for publication, which relate to Pennsylvanians or their families, will submit them to the editor, so that out of a rich stock of genealogical manuscripts, a fine choice may be made for inclusion in our new Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine.[5]

It is worth noting that Mr. Herndon was elected to the American Society of Genealogists in 1945.[6] It is also worth noting that one of those first two “family studies” was “The Stauffer–Stouffer (Stover) Family of Pennsylvania,” written by Meredith B. Colket, Jr., M.A., F.A.S.G.[7] On his “Editor’s Page,” Mr. Herndon recited Mr. Colket’s qualifications:

Mr. Colket is the associate editor of The American Genealogist, secretary and Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, governor of the Mayflower Society in the District of Columbia, member of the Pennsylvania Society of the Order of Founders and Patriots of America, and on the staff of the National Archives, Washington, D. C.[8]

Mr. Colket was also elected the National Genealogical Society’s Genealogy Hall of Fame in 1992, the seventh overall inductee.[9]

Thirdly (and finally), this last issue under the Publications title published an address to the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania at its Fifty-fifth Annual Meeting, held on 3 March 1947. This address—entitled “The American Society of Genealogists”—was delivered by John Goodwin Herndon, Ph.D., F.A.S.G.[10] The many significant passages in this published address included:

  • “The American Society of Genealogists was formed in 1940. From then until now its president has been Dr. Arthur Adams, of Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, known to many in this room. Originally there were twelve Fellows. In 1942, the number was increased to 36. The following year the number was constitutionally fixed at 50. All nominations and elections necessary to complete the membership were filled by the summer of 1944. . . . On 30 March 1946 the Society was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia. As stated in its charter, its purposes include ‘the association of genealogists for their pleasure and benefit; the encouragement of genealogical research and the publications of the results; and in general the securing for genealogy recognition as a serious scientific subject of research in the historical and the social fields of learning.’” [page 164]
  • “The two most important committees thus far appointed are those on Publications and on Standards in the Genealogical Profession. . . . The responsibility of the latter is to recommend the steps which it believes should be taken to insure to the employing public a guarantee of the capacity and integrity of a certified genealogist.” [page 166]
  • “I said a few minutes ago that the second part of the Society’s program bears upon the establishment of standards in the genealogical profession. The time has come, I am sure most of you believe, when official or other protection should be extended to the practicing genealogist in the same way as standards are set by the American Bar Association for lawyer’s [sic], the American Medical Association for physicians and surgeons, and so on for other professional men and women. Thus we have certifying boards for accountants, architects, engineers, nurses. . . . Such steps were not taken in order to deny freedom of choice of occupation to individuals but to protect the public from misrepresentation and various corrupt practices.” [pages 167–168]

Here in 1947, we see the first stirrings of the creation of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, which would not be established until 1964.[11] Mr. Herndon even used the term “certified genealogist”!

The next issue, that of October 1948, was the first published under the name Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, Volume XVI. That issue contained research articles from Robert M. Torrence, Howard T. Dimick, John Goodwin Herndon, F.A.S.G., and Meredith B. Colket Jr., F.A.S.G.[12]

Volume XVII in 1949 further upheld the new ideals. The June issue included articles by Lewis D. Cook (elected to the American Society of Genealogists in 1949), Milton Rubincam (a founding trustee of both ASG and BCG, elected to the Genealogy Hall of Fame in 2003), and William J. Hoffman, F.A.S.G. The December issue included articles from George V. Massey II (elected to the American Society of Genealogists in 1950); and Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr., F.A.S.G. (elected to the Genealogy Hall of Fame in 2007), and Lewis D. Cook, F.A.S.G.[13]

The following Volume XVIII (1950–1951) included articles by John G. Herndon, F.A.S.G. and Walter L. Sheppard, Jr., and Lewis D. Cook, in the December 1950 issue; and Rosalie F. Bailey, F.A.S.G. (elected to the Genealogy Hall of Fame in 2010), in the September 1951 issue.[14]

Volume XVIII (1950–1951) was co-edited by John Goodwin Herndon and Lewis D. Cook, both Fellows of the American Society of Genealogists. They continued this relationship through Volume XIX, issue 3 (September 1954), when Lewis D. Cook became the sole editor.

With Volume XXIV (1965–1966) the editorship of the Magazine was taken up by Mrs. Hannah Benner Roach, elected to the American Society of Genealogists in 1961 and the Genealogy Hall of Fame in 2002. She served in this role until 1972.

Other members of the Publications Committee during this era included John Insley Coddington, F. A.S.G.,  and Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr. Mr. Coddington was also a former editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and was elected to the Genealogy Hall of Fame in 1997.[15]

Most recently, in 2001, Patricia Law Hatcher, F.A.S.G. (elected to A.S.G. in 2000), served as editor of the Magazine. She was joined by co-editor Aaron Goodwin in 2011, who became the sole (and current) editor the following year when Ms. Hatcher retired.

With such a long and illustrious history of publishing quality genealogical research, I must ask: shouldn’t the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine be included among the “top tier” of genealogy journals?

For more information on the Magazine, see also Aaron Goodwin, “The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine Now Online,” online reprint, Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania (http://genpa.org/sites/default/files/12-2_Goodwin.pdf : accessed  19 April 2013); originally published in American Ancestors, Spring 2011, 18–22.

SOURCES:

Note: Digital images of all issues of the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine (and the preceding Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania) cited below have been viewed in the Members-Only section of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania website (http://genpa.org/publications/pennsylvania-genealogical-magazine : accessed 19 Apr 2013).

[1] New England Historic Genealogical Society, “The New England Historical & Genealogical Register,” American Ancestors (http://www.americanancestors.org/the-register/ : accessed 19 Apr 2013). “The Record Online,” New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (http://newyorkfamilyhistory.org/research-discover/elibrary/record-online : accessed 19 Apr 2013).

[2] Committee on Publication, “To the Members of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania,” Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania 1 (1895): 5.

[3] Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania 1 (1896), no. 2.

[4] “Statement of Policy Concerning Future Publications,” Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania 15 (Spring 1947): 277.

[5] John Goodwin Herndon (uncredited), “The Editor’s Page,” Publications 15: 278.

[6] “Roll of All Fellows,” The American Society of Genealogists (http://fasg.org/AllFellows.html : accessed 19 Apr 2013).

[7] Meredith B. Colket, Jr., M.A., F.A.S.G., “The Stauffer–Stouffer (Stover) Family of Pennsylvania,” Publications 15: 216–258.

[8] Herndon, “The Editor’s Page,” Publications 15: 278.

[9] “NGS Genealogy Hall of Fame Members,” National Genealogical Society (http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/past_halloffame_winners : accessed 19 Apr 2013).

[10] John Goodwin Herndon, Ph.D., F.A.S.G, “The American Society of Genealogists,” Publications 15: 161–169.

[11] Kay Haviland Freilich, CG, “BCG History,” Board for Certification of Genealogists (http://bcgcertification.org/aboutbcg/bcghistory.html : accessed 19 Apr 2013); originally published in OnBoard, Volume 7, Number 1, January 2001.

[12] Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine 16 (1948).

[13] Cook, “Commodore Thomas Truxton, U.S.N., and His Descendants,” Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine 17 (June 1949): 3–32. Rubincam, “The Lure and Value of Genealogy,” PGM 17: 33–44. Hoffman, “Jan Willemsz Boekenoogen: An Early Settler of Germantown,” PGM 17: 45–55. Massey, “The Simpsons of Paxtang and Sunbury, Pennsylvania,” PGM 17 (December 1949): 59–68. Sheppard & Cook, “Harris of Cumberland County, New Jersey,” PGM 17: 79–109.

[14] Herndon, “Wiltbanck–Wiltbank Family of Sussex County, Delaware, and Philadelphia,” PGM 18 (December 1950): 3–72. Sheppard & Cook, “Harris of Cumberland County, New Jersey: Supplementary Notes,” PGM 18: 81–83. Bailey, “The Foos Family of Pennsylvania and Ohio,” PGM 18 (September 1951): 87–114; and “Griffith Families of Eastern Pennsylvania Using the Name Joseph,” PGM 18: 115–117.

[15] “NGS Genealogy Hall of Fame Members,” National Genealogical Society.

If you would like to cite this post:

Michael Hait, CG, “A case for the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine,”Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 20 April 2013 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]). [Please also feel free to include a hyperlink to the specific article if you are citing this post in an online forum.]

Notable Genealogy Blog Posts, 16 March 2013

The following recent blog posts are those that I consider important or notable. Unlike other similar blog lists, I cannot guarantee that they will all be from the past week. (Some weeks I simply do not have time to read any blogs.) But I will try to write this on a fairly regular basis.

James O’Toole, “A Research Exercise with the Watergate Tapes,” The Historical Society blog, posted 11 February 2013 (http://histsociety.blogspot.com : accessed 12 March 2013). Not genealogical, but a historical exercise in record analysis.

Brenda Dougall Merriman, CG, “‘The Men,’” Brenda Dougall Merriman blog, posted 10 February 2013 (http://brendadougallmerriman.blogspot.com : accessed 12 March 2013). Brenda discusses a research case she recently had that benefited greatly from a study of academic history material. All genealogists should pay close attention to these resources.

Jeff Hurt, “Fostering An Extremely Powerful Tool At Your Conference: The Session Discussion,” Velvet Chainsaw’s Midcourse Corrections blog, posted 14 February 2013 (http://jeffhurtblog.com : accessed 12 March 2013). While I am not convinced that lectures do not serve an important role in education, I do believe that genealogy conferences should incorporate more discussions—panel discussions, small group discussions, etc.

Kelly James-Enger, “The Freelancer’s Bible–and How to Collect on Every Invoice,” Dollars and Deadlines blog, posted 18 February 2013 (http://dollarsanddeadlines.blogspot.com : accessed 12 March 2013). I have compared professional genealogy practice to freelance writing on numerous previous occasions. This blog post—written for freelance writers—contains lessons that professional genealogists can also learn from.

Dawn Watson, “Perfecting Society Publications,” Digging in the Roots: A Genealogical Odyssey blog, posted 18 February 2013 (http://genealogical.wordpress.com : accessed 12 March 2013). The subject of this post is one that I feel very strongly about as well. So strongly, that I will discuss it in a future post. But Dawn has definitely hit the nail on the head.

Nolan Haims, “Prezi Is Here To Stay,” PresentYourStory.com blog, posted 6 November 2012 (http://presentyourstory.com : accessed 12 March 2013). I have tried the Prezi presentation software before. I thought it was an interesting concept, but did not find it a natural fit. I may give it another look, thanks to this blog post.

Sarah Nerney, “Wills, Slavery, and Freedom in Augusta Co.,” Out of the Box: Notes from the Archives @ the Library of Virginia blog, posted 20 February 2013 (http://www.virginiamemory.com/blogs/out_of_the_box/ : accessed 12 March 2013). This is a very informative and interesting look at some Virginia records.

Craig R. Scott, CG, “A Publisher’s Point of View,” in Judy G. Russell, CG, “Keeping the lights on,” The Legal Genealogist blog, posted 8 March 2013 (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 12 March 2013). The Internet has been almost solely responsible for the closure of bookstores across the nation. Sadly it is also affecting the genealogy publishing industry in a negative way. The owner of Heritage Books, Craig is a prominent national genealogy book publisher. We definitely do not want to lose the valuable resources publishers offer!

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