Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Your Heritage Pie Chart

Yes, Saturday was several days ago, but I wanted to complete this week's "fun" since it involves playing with data - one of my favorite activities.

So last Saturday (July 16th), Randy Seaver asked us to:
  1. list our 16 great-great grandparents
  2. determine countries or states these ancestors lived in at their birth and death
  3. make a heritage pie chart for the country of origin (birth place) for these ancestors
Before doing this challenge, I spent some time playing with (calculating) the ahnentafel numbers for these folks. [See also my post, Calculating Ahnentafel Numbers] I used Reunion's ahnentafel report to generate the following:

16 Dr. Richard Cranch Greenleaf. Born on 12 Feb 1845 in Boston, Massachusetts. Richard Cranch died in Lawrence, Long Island, New York, on 4 Dec 1913; he was 68. Buried in Lenox, Berkshire, Massachusetts.

On 21 Jun 1870 when Richard Cranch was 25, he married Adeline
Emma Stone.

17 Adeline Emma Stone. Born on 14 Jul 1849 in Schooleys Mountain, Morris, New Jersey. Adeline Emma died on 17 Jan 1936; she was 86. Buried in Lenox, Berkshire, Massachusetts.

18 William Adams. Born on 31 Jan 1840 in New York. William died in Scarsdale, Westchester, New York, on 14 Jul 1888; he was 48.

On 14 May 1867 when William was 27, he married Helen Coolidge in Madison Square Church, New York.

19 Helen Coolidge. Born on 13 Nov 1848 in Connecticut. Helen died in New York, New York, on 20 Jan 1929; she was 80. Buried on 22 Jan 1929.

20 Thomas Joseph McCormick. Born in May 1850 in Ireland. Thomas Joseph died in Sprague Falls, Maine, on 27 Sep 1905; he was 55. Buried on 30 Sep 1905 in Menands, New York. Buried on 11 Jul 1906 in Menands, New York.

Thomas Joseph married Margaret Gilligan.

21 Margaret Gilligan. Born on 18 Jan 1851 in Ireland. Margaret died in Albany, Albany, New York, on 3 Jan 1927; she was 75. Buried on 5 Jan 1927 in Menands, New York.

22 Henry Edward Gillespie. Born on 23 Sep 1854 in New York. Henry Edward died in Albany, Albany, New York, on 27 Jan 1933; he was 78. Buried on 30 Jan 1933 in Menands, New York.

Henry Edward married Anna Ambrose.

23 Anna Ambrose. Born in Nov 1860 in New York. Anna died in Albany, Albany, New York, on 1 Sep 1934; she was 73.

24 Petera Brown Worrall. Born on 23 Aug 1844 in Media, Delaware, Pennsylvania. Petera Brown died in Roslyn, New York, on 16 Feb 1916; he was 71.

On 29 Dec 1868 when Petera Brown was 24, he married Mary Catherine Young in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

25 Mary Catherine Young. Born on 6 Jan 1845 in Leesport, Berks County, Pennsylvania.

26 Joseph Harrison Collins. Born on 5 Dec 1853 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Joseph Harrison died in 1887; he was 33.

On 18 Jan 1883 when Joseph Harrison was 29, he married Rebecca Sharpless Delany in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

27 Rebecca Sharpless Delany. Born on 17 Apr 1861 in Brooklyn, New York. Rebecca Sharpless died in Feb 1949; she was 87.

28 Richard McCall Cadwalader. Born on 17 Sep 1839 in Trenton, New Jersey. Richard McCall died in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, on 9 Dec 1918; he was 79.

On 26 Nov 1873 when Richard McCall was 34, he married Christine Williams Biddle in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

29 Christine Williams Biddle. Born on 14 Feb 1847 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Christine Williams died in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 23 Mar 1900; she was 53. Buried on 27 Mar 1900 in St. Thomas Church, Whitemarsh, Montgomery, Pennslyvania.

30 John Ruckman Fell. Born in 1858 in Pennsylvania. John Ruckman died in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 15 Nov 1895; he was 37. Buried on 19 Nov 1895 in St. Thomas Church, Whitemarsh, Montgomery, Pennslyvania.

On 15 May 1879 when John Ruckman was 21, he married Sarah Rozet Drexel in Pennsylvania.

31 Sarah Rozet Drexel. Born on 28 Aug 1860 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Sarah Rozet died in Whitemarsh, Montgomery, Pennsylvania, on 3 Feb 1929; she was 68. Buried in 1929 in Whitemarsh, Montgomery, Pennsylvania.

Birthplaces: United States = 14 (PA = 6; NY = 4; NJ = 2; CT = 1; MA = 1), Ireland = 2

I found the visual representation of this information quite interesting. Granted, this represents only the birthplaces of a single generation, but I tend to think of my ancestors as being more from Massachusetts than New York, but the above chart doesn't illustrate that with this particular set of data. I can definitely see myself using tools like this more to capture similar information.

Calculating Ahnentafel Numbers

Genealogical numbering standards are something I'm peripherally aware of. I know they exist, I know my software can display or output them in various ways, but I don't really use any numbering systems in my day to day genealogical work. So how did I get to calculating Ahnentafel numbers?

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings, in last week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, asked us to list our 16 great-great grandparents. Fine - this I can do. But I noticed in Randy's post that his 16 great-great grandparents were numbered from 16 to 31. I figured this numbering was a standard of some kind, so I turned to Google, and then found myself in Wikipedia.

Wikipedia's article on Genealogical Numbering Systems helped me determine that the numbering in Randy's post was the ahnentafel system. I thought the Wikipedia article on ahnentafel was quite good, and in addition to explaining the system, explained a couple of ways to calculate the numbers. So I decided to try and calculate the ahnentafel numbers for my 16 great-great grandparents. Sure, Reunion could spit these out for me, but I liked the idea of doing the calculations and as part of that, understanding better the basis of the system itself.

I chose to calculate my numbers using Wikipedia's "second method," explained in the Ahnentafel article, using binary to represent each father ("0") or mother ("1") in the relation string, and then converting the binary number to a decimal. I worked from my father's paternal line to my mother's maternal line, and the results were:

Sara's father's father's father's father
10000 = 16
Richard Cranch Greenleaf (b.1845)

Sara's father's father's father's mother
10001 = 17
Adeline Emma Stone

Sara's father's father's mother's father
10010 = 18
William Adams (b.1840)

Sara's father's father's mother's mother
10011 = 19
Helen Coolidge

Sara's father's mother's father's father
10100 = 20
Thomas Joseph McCormick

Sara's father's mother's father's mother
10101 = 21
Margaret Gilligan

Sara's father's mother's mother's father
10110 = 22
Henry Edward Gillespie

Sara's father's mother's mother's mother
10111 = 23
Anna Ambrose

Sara's mother's father's father's father
11000 = 24
Petera Brown Worrall

Sara's mother's father's father's mother
11001 = 25
Mary Catherine Young

Sara's mother's father's mother's father
11010 = 26
Joseph Harrison Collins

Sara's mother's father's mother's mother
11011 = 27
Rebecca Sharpless Delany

Sara's mother's mother's father's father
11100 = 28
Richard McCall Cadwalader

Sara's mother's mother's father's mother
11101 = 29
Christine Williams Biddle

Sara's mother's mother's mother's father
11110 = 30
John Ruckman Fell

Sara's mother's mother's mother's mother
11111 = 31
Sarah Rozet Drexel

I used this tool to covert the binary numbers to decimal.

It took an evening to do, but was fun and productive genealogically in a new way.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Follow Friday - Lisa Alzo on Google News Archives

Source of inspiration: Alzo, Lisa A. "Google's Archives: News You Can Use." Internet Genealogy 6 (June/July 2011): 7-9.

I've known about Google News Archive for a while, but haven't really spent much time with it. This is largely because I work in an academic library and have easy access to other subscription resource for newspapers. But after reading Alzo's article I decided to play with the Google News Archives and found a lot to like about using this tool to search newspapers for some of my ancestors.

I decided to try modeling some of Alzo's examples in her article using my own genealogical case study, Marion Constance Greenleaf (1871 - 1900). Marion Greenleaf was my great-great aunt, the older sister of my great-grandfather Lewis Stone Greenleaf. In the few years that I've been researching this family group, I've found them mentioned numerous times in the society pages of the New York Times recounting some of their years in Lenox, Massachusetts. Marion in particular has caught my attention - maybe because she died at age 29 on Christmas Eve of the year 1900. Or maybe because she was the oldest, but never married. But I've long wanted to do a more detailed tracing of Marion in the New York Times society pages, trying to develop a more thorough picture of this aunt who died young and left no direct descendants of her own.


My search was quite simple - a basic keyword search for the name Marion Greenleaf. The first page of results, 10 articles, were all highly relevant to my search for Marion. The results all mentioned the Marion Greenleaf I'm interested in, were published in the New York Times, published between 1892 and 1900, with the first hit being news of Marion's death from typhoid fever in December 1900.

The second page of results was also fairly relevant:
- 4 articles mentioned my Marion Greenleaf, and were published in the New York Times between 1893 and 1900
- 2 articles mentioned Marion's niece, Marion Greenleaf Nash, my great-aunt, presumably named after her aunt.
- 2 articles mentioned an unrelated Marion Greenleaf who apparently lives in Miami, FL - not the right person, but the results can't be faulted given my search
- 2 articles mentioned the words "Marion" and "Greenleaf" in close proximity, but not as someone's name

On the first page of results, nine of the articles were for "Marion Greenleaf", but one result had the spelling variant "Marian Greenleaf". Having noticed her name spelled as both Marion and Marian in the society columns I've read, I was pleasantly surprised that the variant spelling appear in the results set. I'm not sure quite why this is though, so would be cautious about assuming Google will return variant spellings automatically. A quick test shows the reverse is also true - a keyword search for Marian Greenleaf brings up articles with the spelling Marion Greenleaf - but the results vary from the first search.

Google's results nicely list the source of the original article and the date, so it is easy to see what the original sources of the news items are. The result listings also make at easy to see which articles have an attached fee for viewing at their publisher web sites.


Clicking through to the publisher's site, will sometimes provide additional information that helps me evaluate the article's relevance to my research.


In the above example from the Boston Globe, I get additional information on finding the article in the Boston Globe, plus a brief abstract. Noting which articles of interest carried a charge, yet having the basic citation information at hand, I was easily able to return to my employer library's subscription database resources to find this article available through other means. [Yes, this is not the Marion Greenleaf I started searching for, but her niece, my great-aunt. I did get some additional information from this obituary.]

But I think the feature of the Google News Archive I most like is the timeline.

The timeline serves several purposes. First, it quickly illustrates the date distribution of the results set. Second, clicking on a decade of interest will narrow the results further.

Looking at the distribution for the articles written in the 1890's, I can see a peak from 1892-1894. Drilling down further to examine 1893 in detail, I see that there is another peak in July-September, which logically corresponds with society news about the "season" in Lenox, Massachusetts.

My search could be improved by adding additional keywords, such as "Lenox" to the name "Marion Greenleaf," or by using Google's Advanced Archive Search which has additional features like limiting by date, source, or article price. In the end, I found some fairly interesting things in my search for additional information on Marion, but that's another post.