Tag Archives: database cleansing

Don’t neglect your orphans

18 Jan

I spent three or four hours last week trying to identify some of the orphans in my database. These are the individuals who are relations, but I am not sure exactly how they were related (Ernest John TROWER was one of these).

When I wrote about cleaning up my database I think there were fifteen or sixteen individuals or families that weren’t linked, now I am down to nine of them, unfortunately I don’t thing there is much more I can do with them without spending more money on certificates.

As well as tidying up my database, which is pleasing in itself, I have also discovered one or two interesting stories. These individuals seemed unpromising, mostly grandchildren of my ancestors, but as I discovered it was well worth investigating them. Embarrassingly a couple of the orphans were duplicates. One orphan was already linked elsewhere and there were two orphans who were actually the same person.

Walter Henry BOXALL was the grandson of James and Caroline BOXALL, born in Wales in 1897. I still don’t know who his parents were or why he was born in Wales when the rest of his relatives were seemingly all in Sussex, England. What I did discover was that Walter Henry was killed in World War One. His name appears on the war memorial at West Dean, Sussex (one of six BOXALLs named on the memorial). He is definitely worth ordering a birth certificate for.

James LEWRY was the grandson of Thomas LEWRY, but it wasn’t until I started investigating him that I discovered he was actually the illegitimate son of my 3x great-grandmother Elizabeth LEWRY. She married Edward WALDER in 1846, three years after James had been born.

Alfred MITCHELL married Violet Florence CHAPPELL in 1920 in Hampshire. There doesn’t appear to be a direct connection, but they had three children baptised in West Dean, Sussex. What interests me is the migration from Hampshire to Sussex, which seems to mirror the migration of my direct ancestors. I need to get the marriage certificate for Alfred and Violet find his father’s name so I can link them up. After that I want to find out if any other MITCHELLs migrated from Hampshire to Sussex.

Initially these orphans did not seem important, and whilst they aren’t direct ancestors they had some interesting stories to tell which no doubt did impact my direct ancestors, so don’t neglect your orphans.

2010 to do list – spring clean my database

28 Dec

Between now and the new year I will be writing about some of the things I want to achieve with my family history in 2010.

I did go through my database (Family Historian) earlier this year and clear up some loose ends, but as a result of the rush to get my family tree chart printed I have messed things up again.

It is not really messed up, just that I have a lot of loose ends that need further research which I didn’t have time to do.

Wives with no maiden names: Currently there are 21 women whose maiden names I do not know. A fair few of these are my 5x great-grandmothers, so it would be really good to find them. Along the same lines I also have a husband with no first name.

Orphans: I have a number of individuals and families who are not connected to the rest of my family tree, or rather where the connection is not known. These are mostly grandchildren of one of my ancestors, but the parents of the child is not known. There are a couple of families that are almost certainly related, they come from the same village and have the same surname as my ancestors, but again their exact connection is not known.

Missing parents: I have several individuals where the identity of one of the parents is not known. In many cases this is due to illegitimacy, and the identity may never be known, but in some cases it is just because one or other of the parents died early and doesn’t appear on a census return.

Living individuals: Now would be a good time to run through my database and make sure that all my ancestors and relations that are living are flagged as such, so their data is not shared.

Sanity checks: It would also be a good time to perform some sanity checks on my data, such as: age at marriage, age at death, duplicate children of the same name, correct gender based on first name. Of course there will be anomalies in the data, but once highlighted they can be checked on an individual basis.

Birth and death dates: As if that is not enough to keep me busy for the whole of 2010, I would also like to make sure everyone in my database has a birth date (estimated if needed) and any individual that is not marked as living should have a death date (again estimated if needed).

Thinking about place name structure

5 Jul

This afternoon I was thinking about how I record place names in my family history database (Family Historian). I suppose this is actually part of my database cleansing operation, in that I want make sure all place information is in a standard format, but also I want to make sure it is the best way of recording it.

Family Historian uses the GEDCOM standard, and has two fields for storing location data within events and attributes. These are place and address. So using my 2x great grandparents Henry and Dorothy Isabella BATEMAN as an example their location data would be:

ADDRESS : 2 Shenley Villas, Hurst Wickham

PLACE : Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England

The address field contains a house number/name (or farm name) and a street name (if there was one) within a parish. There may also be an area or district included if there was one within the parish (in this case Hurst Wickham).

One element I need to standardise and check my database for is when the event referred to takes place in a church, such as a baptism, marriage or burial. In this case the address field would contain the name of the church, such as St Peter’s Church. I need to make sure they all have consistent format, capitalisation and punctuation.

The place field contains the Parish, County, State (not really sure if England is a state or not). This is alright for rural parishes, but for urban parishes where a town may contain more than one ecclesiastical parish things start to get untidy, examples of these from Sussex would include Brighton, Lewes and Chichester.

In one of these cases I would record the place as: Town/City (Parish), County, State. So as an example: Lewes (All Saints), Sussex, England. The first element is standardised so that if I generate a report from Family Historian which includes the place then all the town or city will show up first, rather than having some events listed under All Saints Lewes and some under Lewes All Saints.

The other advantage to this system is that it matches the Parish, County, State format when the actual parish is not known. For example when someone gives their place of birth on a census return as Lewes, Sussex. All places beginning with Lewes could be listed together on a report regardless of whether they have an ecclesiastical parish included or not.

Of course there are always going to be places which don’t fit into this format, the main one being the registration districts listed in the GRO BMD indexes. These I simply record with the district name, such as Lewes District or Brighton District. The theory being that these are only temporary records, and one day they will be replaced by more precise data. I am not sure whether I should change the format and record Brighton District as Brighton Registration District, Sussex, England. This is more long-winded, but probably more descriptive and helpful.

I would be interested to here what you think about my place structure in the comments below. Do you have any suggestions for improvement? How do you record registration districts?

Tidying up some loose ends and giving myself permission to move on

1 Jul

Things have got a bit untidy on my desktop recently. I seem to have acquired several text files of extracted records in my various explorations of my family tree, as well as during some of my database cleansing.

So before things get too far out of hand I am going to have a purge before the weekend, so I will be able to concentrate on FAIRS research and other projects, rather than all these other distractions.

For instance take Mary Ann WELLER, I have several census entries and baptism records for the rest of her siblings and parents which I need to enter into Family Historian. Then I can order her birth certificate and know that when it arrives I can pick up where I left off.

As well as not being able to make decisions, I am also not very good at finishing things off. I have too many unfinished projects sitting on my desk (and on my mind) which is why the mothballing process I described a while back is so helpful to me.

It draws a line under a project (albeit one that can be erased at a later date) and gives me permission to move on. By doing so I am admitting that it is not finished and furthermore I am not going to do any more work on it now, but I don’t need to worry about it, because it will all still be there when I am ready to come back to it.

Genealogy Database Cleansing

30 Jun

Instead of actually getting on with any proper research last night I got sidetracked into some genealogy database cleansing.

There are two issues with my family tree that had been bugging me for a while, they are individuals in my tree with incomplete names and individuals who are not related to me and my ancestors.

The first category contained 15 individuals, the majority (nine) with no surname (mostly wives whose maiden names have so far eluded me), five individuals had no name at all (mostly fathers of illegitimate children) and one individual with just a surname (the husband of a relation who married, where I know her married name but no other details about the marriage).

There are a number of ways I can tackle these, for instance the fathers of illegitimate children can probably be deleted for now if I have no information about them. None of them are my direct ancestors so I probably won’t be investing much (if any) time and money into finding them. So long as I make a note of the children’s names I can always add them back in at a later date.

The wives’ surnames will probably need researching because some of them are ancestors. That will mean birth or marriage certificates need ordering unless I can find the information elsewhere.

The second category of unlinked individuals contains 15 individuals, or more correctly three individuals, one family of seven and one of five. These are mostly people with the same surname as my ancestors and in the same parish as my ancestors, so probably related in some way. This also includes at least one grandchild living with (or visiting) grandparents in the census and whose parents are not yet clear.

I could remove these individuals until I know for certain how they fit in, but I think I will try and make an effort to find out how they fit in first. As a rule I don’t normally add individuals until I know how they are related, but these must have slipped through in the early days!

Chances are I am not going to be able to resolve all these problems straight away, but I still need to make sure that they are all captured on a to-do list and are all recorded in a standard format.

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