We finally have a working solution to an area I’ve been trying to figure out for years: What do we do with new genealogical information submitted to us? How do we make it available to our members?
Thanks to John Langbehn, our Newsletter Editor, we have an answer. John, over the course of several years, transcribed the entire History of the Strong Family by Benjamin Dwight, into Family Tree Maker.
Let me show you what we have, and then I’ll give some examples of why that’s useful to our membership.
Historian Database For Each Line
Our progenitors are Elder John Strong, his wife Abigail (Ford) Strong, and Elder John’s unknown first wife. They had many children who lived to be adults and in turn produce their own children. We organize things by descendant line. For example, descendants of their daughter Mary are the “Mary Line,” descendants of their son Jedediah are the “Jedediah Line,” and so on.
I split up the Family Tree Maker file in the same way, to create our sixteen (lots of children!) Historian Databases:
- Descendants of Joseph and Sarah (Strong) Barnard of Deerfield, MA, 4,009 names: The Sarah Line.
- Descendants of John and Mary (Strong) Clark of Windsor, CT, 2,352 names: The Mary Line.
- Descendants of John and Mary (Clark) Strong of Windsor, CT, 4,558 names: The John Jr. Line.
- Descendants of Thomas and Mary (Hewett) and Rachel (Holton) Strong of Hingham, MA, 11,171 names: The Thomas Line.
- Descendants of Jedediah and Freedom (Woodward) Strong of Northampton, MA, 8,588 names: The Jedediah Line.
- Descendants of Return and Sarah (Warham) Strong of Windsor, CT, 1,080 names: The Return Line.
- Descendants of Elder Ebenezer and Hannah (Clapp) Strong of Northampton, MA, 3,745 names: The Ebenezer Line.
- Descendants of Nathaniel and Abigail (Strong) Chauncey of Hatfield, MA, 500 names: The Abigail Line.
- Descendants of Joseph and Elizabeth (Strong) Parsons of Northampton, MA, 1,528 names: The Elizabeth Line.
- Descendants of Zerubbabel and Experience (Strong) Filer of Windsor, CT, 277 names: The Experience Line.
- Descendants of Samuel and Esther (Clapp) and Ruth (Sheldon) Strong of Northampton, MA, 2,780 names: The Samuel Line.
- Descendants of Capt. William and Hannah (Strong) Clark of Lebanon, CT, 277 names: The Hannah Line.
- Descendants of Thomas and Hester (Strong) Bissell, Jr., of Windsor, CT, 47 names: The Hester Line.
- Descendants of Jerijah and Thankful (Stebbins) Strong of Northampton, MA, 1,165 names: The Jerijah Line.
- Descendants of Jonathan and Thankful (Strong) Baldwin of Milford, CT, 6 names: The Thankful Line.
- Ancestors and Cousins of Elder John and Abigail (Ford) Strong of Northampton, MA, 6 names: All relatives not in the above descendant lines.
Now We Can Use Incoming Information
Last January, in the events surrounding Bob Cihla’s passing and funeral, I received genealogy information from Bob’s sister Linda.
When we receive genealogical information for the Strong Family Association, this information usually tells us how the member is related to Elder John Strong. We ask that question on our membership forms!
Let’s use Bob and Linda’s information to show you how this works for our Historian. I’m skipping a generation for privacy reasons, starting with their grandparents:
- Bob and Linda’s grandfather is Ralph Everett Derby (1882–1969).
- Ralph is the son of Henry Clayton Derby (1847–1925).
- Henry is the son of Chauncy William Derby (1826–1861).
- Chauncy is the son of Clarissa (Baker) Derby (1786–1861).
- Clarissa is the daughter of Timothy Baker.
- Timothy is the son of Jemima (Clark) Baker (1728-). Jemima is in our database, because she is in Dwight’s History of the Strong Family on page 1451, person #27132.
- Jemima is the daughter of Increase Clark (1684–1775).
- Increase is the son of Mary (Strong) Clark (1654–1738).
- Mary is the daughter of Elder John Strong and Abigail (Ford) Strong; she is thus the progenitor of the Mary Line.
Do you see where I’m going with this? In the past, when receiving new information, I’ve had nothing to attach it to. It simply gets filed away with MANY other files of genealogical information.
Now, we can easily add the information to our master database for the Mary Line. Here’s how.
- Quickly type in the names connecting our member to the database. We have Jemima (Clark) Baker in the database, so add her son Timothy; Timothy’s daughter Clarissa; Clarissa’s son Chauncy; Chauncy’s son Henry; Henry’s son Ralph Everett Derby. It takes but a few moments to find Jemima Clark and add those five names as her descendant line to Ralph Everett Derby.
- Then, type in all information received, which in this case was a hundred names or so. That took some hours as you can well imagine, but once it’s done, it’s done.
Ideally, of course, we’d like to have ALL of our information typed in and accessible. We may get there some day! But as a starting point, I can now type in NEW information as it arrives.
As another example, consider our membership application form. On each form, we ask you to list your relationship to Elder John Strong (if known). I can now take the form and connect you into our Historian’s master database.
There is a privacy issue here: The Historian’s Master Database is not public information. Information must be privatized before being published. That’s normal and expected. Meanwhile, for the first time, we have the information, organized and accessible.
Publishing New Genealogy
As I explained in the previous post, New Strong Family Updates Books, we’re now able to create Kindle books, large or small, from our Family Tree Maker database. Right now we’re working a pilot project to produce the first such book. Assuming we’re successful, we can then produce anything of appropriate size from our incoming information.
To continue the above example, the information I received from Linda was all known descendants of Henry Clayton Derby (1847–1925). The information prints out as about 25 pages, not counting photos or other images. With photos added, can you picture this being available to various cousins, nieces, and nephews on phones, tablets, and iPads?
Of course we need to complete the pilot project first. We’d like to get it right. We need to learn from the first project, so that we do get it right.
I find that, often as not, for a given family, it is someone in the older generation who assembles the family genealogy. Their purpose often includes providing this information for the younger generations of that family.
Perhaps we have the opportunity to provide a service, one (relatively) small piece at a time. As we receive information, why not turn around and create eBooks from what we receive?
First things first, of course. Let’s produce that first book, and get it right, and learn from that experience.