MySource talk:GayelKnott/George Jones Documents

A Possibly Better Organization?

Discussion elsewhere was offered, that suggested this content might be better handled as a set of different MySource pages. While that might be more useful in one sense, I think the common way to handle collected papers is as a discrete source item with a page/volume/item description.

So here's another idea, that lifts from my experience with the Savage Transcript:

  • Make this a "Source", instead of a "MySource".
  • Create a transcript page, with a name identical to that of the source.
  • Make sure the source page indicates that "WeRelate" is the repository, and gives the transcript page as the item address.
  • On the transcript page, create ONLY an index of the different documents.
  • Create the individual documents as sub-pages of the transcript page. Use names that would be descriptive if they appeared as a page/item description in a cite. Provide links in the top level index to the sub-pages.
  • When citing from a person or family page, indicate the source as normal. Reference the particular transcript page in the citation source field (for example, see the page field of the Savage cite for George Abbott.
  • For convenient referencing of the items in the collection, you may want to create a template that takes the item name as a parameter, and creates a link to the appropriate transcript sub-page (for example, see savagepg).
  • Individual sub-pages would REALLY LOOK GREAT if they also had scans of the original documents!

--jrm03063 12:28, 11 July 2012 (EDT)

Not Necessarily [16 July 2012]

Well, that may explain the email I received a while back telling me how much the sender liked the way I used MySources. Obviously, not everyone shares the point of view that you are presenting. Nor do I.

If the references cited on this MySource Page were for a multitude of people, I could understand that some might think it tidier to split them up according to the persons with whom they were associated, although I don’t see how it would be “more useful” - they would still be referenced through a MySource link.
In this instance, however, all the references are associated with one person, George Washington Jones, and it seems to me to be both tidier and more useful (I wonder, for instance, how he managed to make three successful homestead applications) to have them all on one page as long they do not become too lengthy. (The length of the extractions, by the way, is why I put them on a MySource page, rather than leaving them on the Person page.)

As for the “common way to handle collected papers”, these are not collected papers, they are collected references or source citations. They are equivalent to footnotes or endnotes except that they have been annotated with extractions.
Since all of the references are to record collections that are publicly accessible to other researchers, the use of annotated references is basically an expedient (read lazy) means of implying proof, rather than developing the narrative that is the final step in a valid proof argument. (As in The Genealogical Proof Standard.)
Some day I hope to write a Bio for George, but there are still some loose ends that need tying up – and not just his ability to obtain three homestead grants.

As for providing full transcriptions, I fail to see where this would be of sufficient use to enough people to justify my time.
Several of these documents are very lengthy, would take a considerable amount of my time to transcribe and proof read, and at my age time is becoming a critical consideration. The end result would provide little if any more information and would also take up space on WeRelate that would, in my opinion, be better devoted to other uses.
Those persons who are concerned or curious about what may have been left out can either contact me through WeRelate (as long as the requests are reasonable), and/or obtain copies of the original documents themselves, both of which a competent researcher would do anyway, at least for people in their direct line of descent.

As for turning the transcriptions into a source, I totally disagree.

  • First, the transcription is, at best, a derivative rather than original source, no matter how primary the information it contains.
  • Second, the transcriptions (in the case of these references) would provide information specific to one person, not to a large number of persons, and as such would still more appropriately belong on a MySource rather than a Source page. (For an example of a collection of manuscript papers that is worthy of being a Source, see the John Kennedy Graham Papers.)
  • Third, learning how to use the Source Citations on WeRelate is probably the most difficult part of the learning curve for new comers and cluttering up Sources with spurious/derivative sources such as transcriptions will simply increase the difficulty of learning for new comers, further discouraging their participation.

As for the up-loading of scanned documents, I find this practice frequently very irritating.

  • First, most such scanned documents, when up-loaded, are virtually impossible to read, so that even if they did contain information not readily available elsewhere, they are useless.
  • Second, the continued reliance on visual copies of documents, whether scanned, photocopies, or (as in the 1930s and 1940s) photostats, when attached to individual genealogies, seems to reinforce the erroneous belief that a copy of a document constitutes proof and/or can be substituted for a source citation. In fact, a quality source citation, NOT a visual copy, is an essential component of proof, since a quality source citation allows another researcher to replicate or dispute the reported findings of the original researcher. Replicability of results is one of the most fundamental principles of any research with pretensions to respectability or authority, whatever the discipline. Scanned copies of documents may be useful when the original is not readily accessible, particularly if it is legible (or at least transcribed, as here), but they do not promote replicability.
  • Third, most of the documents cited here include many pages (the Homestead Applications and the Probate File, for example). While all of those pages contain data, relatively few of them contain much in the way of information. (Information being those data that can be used to answer a specific research question and/or point to other potential sources of information or avenues of inquiry.) Scanning and up-loading pages and pages of relatively meaningless documents that are readily accessible through other means seems, at this point, a waste of my time and of WeRelate resources.

Finally, my apologies if my reply to your suggestion seems rather long and more heated than might be expected. You have, however, touched on subjects about which I do feel quite strongly.
I appreciate that you have worked to make WeRelate a recognized and reputable genealogical site, a concern that I share. One of the real strengths I see in WeRelate is it’s potential for presenting genealogy as scholarly or reputable research, with the emphasis on source citation, evidence analysis, and written narrative proof, particularly since that written narrative can simultaneously present the kind of humanizing biographical story that we all want to see for our ancestors.
With the increasing availability of on-line access to original sources through, FamilySearch, and local, state and national archives, among others, WeRelate could play a role in encouraging the use of good source citation and so on, rather than becoming a tenth rate repository for derivative sources. Unfortunately, I’m not sure just how one would go about doing so, other than through example and through editing of and feedback on pages that one watches.--GayelKnott 01:59, 13 July 2012 (EDT)

Um, ok? I was just a little excited and offering an idea in quick form - please forgive me if it seemed judgemental of the choices you've made. I realize that the process of uploading images of any kind can be tedious but I find protection and access to the data (if the scan is good enough) a pretty compelling rationale. But please - by all means - choose the way forward that seems best to suit your needs! I really only want to help when I can, and learn.
You've also put a lot down here - and I really want a chance to absorb it and discuss the general issues a bit more if you're willing. I in no way whatever want to tell you what to do! Thanks for the detailed reply and your passion on the matter.
Very Best Regards, --jrm03063 10:44, 13 July 2012 (EDT)

I do get a bit pedantic at times! Sorry about that.

I'm not sure what you mean by protection, but in these days of archives being shut down, it may be worth thinking about. On the other hand, more and more archives are putting records on-line, for whatever that is worth.

And I do realize that other people have different goals and concerns than mine. At least on WeRelate it's hard to find ancestors who continue to procreate ten or more years after they've died. (Why is it only men who seem to have that ability?) --GayelKnott 23:48, 14 July 2012 (EDT)

Yeah, we're going to always have a lot of work to do I guess! By protection, I mean documents and photographs where - perhaps - I have one of the only copies - or perhaps the only copy where I can positively identify the people or places involved. If you're dealing with content that can be had in existing formal public repositories, even if the steps to get it are somewhat laborious, that's obviously not an issue. And again, I meant no offense. I was thinking perhaps more abstractly about the idea of the collected papers of a person - where the papers might be the sort of thing that winds up in a research library if the person is important enough. If you have a person who is perhaps more ordinary - and a research library that can take on the responsibility isn't available - or perhaps a family isn't ready to part with the originals - I would think that werelate could be a great way to protect things that are important in understanding the history of a person, family or community. Again, best regards... --jrm03063 20:42, 15 July 2012 (EDT)

I agree -- rare or one of a kind sources should be transcribed and/or scanned and up-loaded. Actually, one of the reasons I'm trying to get as much of my research as possible on-line is so that someone in the future won't have to repeat the same work. Maybe some day the grandkids, or their kids, but who knows. I've seen too often what happens to unrecorded work when a genealogist dies. On top of that, I have tons of old photos. I should probably stop researching, but it's just way too much fun. --GayelKnott 02:00, 16 July 2012 (EDT)