The SFAA Historian’s Genealogy Database

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:

  1. Descen­dants of Joseph and Sarah (Strong) Barnard of Deer­field, MA, 4,009 names: The Sarah Line.
  2. Descen­dants of John and Mary (Strong) Clark of Wind­sor, CT, 2,352 names: The Mary Line.
  3. Descen­dants of John and Mary (Clark) Strong of Wind­sor, CT, 4,558 names: The John Jr. Line.
  4. Descen­dants of Thomas and Mary (Hewett) and Rachel (Holton) Strong of Hing­ham, MA, 11,171 names: The Thomas Line.
  5. Descen­dants of Jede­diah and Free­dom (Wood­ward) Strong of Northamp­ton, MA, 8,588 names: The Jede­diah Line.
  6. Descen­dants of Return and Sarah (Warham) Strong of Wind­sor, CT, 1,080 names: The Return Line.
  7. Descen­dants of Elder Ebenezer and Han­nah (Clapp) Strong of Northamp­ton, MA, 3,745 names: The Ebenezer Line.
  8. Descen­dants of Nathaniel and Abi­gail (Strong) Chauncey of Hat­field, MA, 500 names: The Abi­gail Line.
  9. Descen­dants of Joseph and Eliz­a­beth (Strong) Par­sons of Northamp­ton, MA, 1,528 names: The Eliz­a­beth Line.
  10. Descen­dants of Zerub­ba­bel and Expe­ri­ence (Strong) Filer of Wind­sor, CT, 277 names: The Expe­ri­ence Line.
  11. Descen­dants of Samuel and Esther (Clapp) and Ruth (Shel­don) Strong of Northamp­ton, MA, 2,780 names: The Samuel Line.
  12. Descen­dants of Capt. William and Han­nah (Strong) Clark of Lebanon, CT, 277 names: The Han­nah Line.
  13. Descen­dants of Thomas and Hes­ter (Strong) Bis­sell, Jr., of Wind­sor, CT, 47 names: The Hes­ter Line.
  14. Descen­dants of Jer­i­jah and Thank­ful (Steb­bins) Strong of Northamp­ton, MA, 1,165 names: The Jer­i­jah Line.
  15. Descen­dants of Jonathan and Thank­ful (Strong) Bald­win of Mil­ford, CT, 6 names: The Thank­ful Line.
  16. 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:

  1. Bob and Linda’s grand­fa­ther is Ralph Everett Derby (1882–1969).
  2. Ralph is the son of Henry Clay­ton Derby (1847–1925).
  3. Henry is the son of Chauncy William Derby (1826–1861).
  4. Chauncy is the son of Clarissa (Baker) Derby (1786–1861).
  5. Clarissa is the daugh­ter of Tim­o­thy Baker.
  6. 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.
  7. Jemima is the daugh­ter of Increase Clark (1684–1775).
  8. Increase is the son of Mary (Strong) Clark (1654–1738).
  9. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Gen­er­a­tional Transfer

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.

Posted in Sharing our Knowledge.

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