My name is Janet Bjorndahl and I live in Saskatchewan.
I work fulltime as an IT Data Architect/Analyst. I'm keen on data quality, as it has been a significant focus in my career. I like the idea of an integrated tree based on collaboration. Once I have finished loading my own records, I look forward to poking around in WeRelate looking for opportunities to supplement existing data with a bit of additional research, as others are already doing.
My approach to research
I became interested in genealogy as a teenager, gathering information from my grandfather (some of which I discovered many years later was not quite accurate). My interest lapsed for a while, but then was engaged again when my daughter was born, and I have been busy with it ever since.
My early records were poorly sourced (as I expect most people’s records are when they first start), but once I got more serious, I bought a great software package and started keeping better track. When I had hit dead ends in all my branches, I checked out RootsWeb and was excited to find a branch of my husband’s tree that extended into early New England. Later, I found a branch of my own tree that did the same, and discovered that we are 11th cousins twice removed.
Before too long, I discovered that not all family trees are created equal, and became much more cautious about picking up information from other amateurs like myself. As a result, I decided to invest in a few books and some online subscriptions, and have done considerable checking of official records and published works (recognizing that some of these are better than others). I quote sources most of the time, so that it is possible for others to see what information I picked up from the source, and what I have inferred (or possibly misinterpreted).
I am still in the process of adding citations to my database, making corrections as I go. As of Nov 2013, I have completed and uploaded all except my husband’s paternal line.
My daughter’s ancestors
My ancestors include:
My husband’s ancestors include:
In total, my database of ancestors and their children and their children’s spouses numbers about 7800 individuals.
I have not made good use of the Family Tree feature in WeRelate, so it is not possible to see my distinct trees - someday I will probably fix that.
I have chosen to trace my ancestors rather than focus on descendants with any particular family name. However, I am the “official” keeper of the family tree of the descendants of one set of grandparents – this tree (which I do not publish online, but bring updated to every family reunion) numbers over 400 people.
When I realized a few years ago that I had inadvertently picked up some bad data from RootsWeb (and spent some time researching and documenting a line that was not mine), I decided to make it easier for others to judge the quality of the data I was uploading to RootsWeb. One aspect of this was to include siblings of my ancestors whenever possible, as I realized that seeing a person in the context of an entire family made it easier to spot errors (such as children born in widely distant places for no obvious reason, or children born too close together).
In many cases, I have also included spouses of siblings – mostly because I suspected that I might be the only one who had that information for several of my great-aunts and uncles. With the way that WeRelate matches on couples (rather than individuals), I am glad that I chose to include spouses – it helps me to avoid creating duplicates.
Skills I can share
I've done a fair bit of work digging through Norwegian parish registers (digitized images available free online, at Digitalarkivet), and can provide a limited amount of support in this area.
I have split apart an integrated database of about 20,000 individuals into trees small enough to load into WeRelate, and could probably use the same technique to help others with this. See my talk page for statistics on this task.
Other contributions to WeRelate
Since my husband has an English royal line, I got into medieval records on WeRelate and did quite a bit of cleanup for about 6 months before deciding to focus on continuing to improve and upload my own database. I found an extremely well-sourced website (Charles Cawley's Medieval Lands) and used it as my main source to correct the mess that used to exist on WeRelate – but still felt like I barely scratched the surface. Others have picked up the task, using Medieval Lands and other sources.
When I need a break from my own database, I sometimes dabble in merging duplicates in WeRelate. I have also cleaned up families that were only marginally related to my own ancestry, finding it entertaining to chase down the occasional rabbit hole.
These, plus assisting others to upload their large databases, are the kinds of tasks I can see myself doing more of once I finish loading my own database (in another year or two).