29 October 2014

Social Disgrace: Rat of God

It's been a couple of months since I've done a Social Disgrace post. That doesn't mean things have improved. If you aren't on Facebook you've missed a lot of AncestryFAIL posts on Barking's Facebook page. Ancestry's social media team really outdid themselves yesterday. The post was so bad it had to be deleted but luckily a friend was able to grab a screen capture for me.

Ancestry.com DYK our Sears, Roebuck and Co. Historic Catalogs span 1896-1993 and have some, shall we say interesting and spooky items for sale including this headstone with what we think is a rat or opossum on top? Take your best guess!
[Ad copy] THIS BEAUTIFUL TOMBSTONE with a sleeping lamb on the top is furnished at the heretofore unheard of prices of $11.65 in Acme Blue, Dark Vein Vermont Marble, and at $12.88 in White Acme Rutland Italian Marble. 

A rat or opossum? Seriously? "Sleeping lamb" is right in the ad copy. And I doubt anyone who has bought a headstone for a child would appreciate the stone being called "spooky" like some cheap Halloween decoration. We won't even go into the disastrous grammar.
An Ancestry.com employee commented with a non-apology apology. Of course once the thread was deleted so was her comment.

Juliana Szucs It is definitely a lamb as it says in the ad, and we meant no disrespect, but in all honestly [sic], when I look at the advertisement I see an opossum. We just thought we'd share it for fun. Apologies to those of you it offended. For those of you who want to browse, the Sears catalogs are here: http://bit.ly/hsD5nm

Got that? If you were offended she apologizes but no apology for offending you. No apology for creating the post. No apology for making light of grieving parents. No apology for their lack of reading comprehension. No apology for their lack of basic cemetery knowledge. Unbelievable.

Thanks to Madelyn for the screen caps!
The title of this post was taken from one of the comments in the deleted thread. Thanks, Jane!

PREVIOUS POST: Etched in Stone

27 October 2014

Etched in Stone

I love most episodes of Finding Your Roots. Some I've watched over and over and over again. Unfortunately last week's episode, "The Melting Pot" [video is available until 21 Nov 2014], made me want to throw things at the television.
Below are a few transcribed portions and my notes.
[Dr. Gates narrating] "When Ming's grandfather left China, there was one object he took with him. A book tracing the family's genealogy back to the year 891 A.D.. It's a treasure in the Tsai family. But unfortunately for Ming the book is simply oral history set down by his ancestors. There's been no way to know if it's true, until now.
We sent researchers to China to try and confirm the Tsai genealogy. It was a long shot. The communists had ordered that all genealogical records be destroyed in an effort to break down family structures. This was, in fact, a fundamental part of the Cultural Revolution. But in some cases stone carved tablets, known as steles, have survived. Before communism the Chinese landscape was dotted with hundreds of thousands of these steles. In Ming's hometown only one remains standing."
"Ming's hometown"? Ming Tsai was born in Newport Beach, California and was raised in Dayton, Ohio.
[Dr. Gates talking to Ming] "Our researcher kept asking around and someone told her that of all of the family shrines that had existed before the Cultural Revolution there was only one that remained standing. Can you imagine that? I mean, of all these thousands, just one."
 Screen cap from "The Melting Pot" episode of Finding Your Roots.

Of course it's for the Tsai family, Ming's 36th great-grandfather, and there is a great television moment...and then genealogy brain kicks in. That stele looks like it was created in the last 25 years so who created it? Where did the information come from? How well is it documented?
Someone on Facebook commented that this stele was actually created in 2007 to memorialize the thousands of steles that once were. I don't read Chinese so maybe someone else can confirm that. Is it "the only one" still standing because it has only been standing for 7 years?
[Dr. Gates narrating] The stele confirmed Ming's family history to the letter. It documented his ancestry back to 891 A.D. and beyond.
Not even a question about whether the book was copied from the stone or vice versa? Do we know who provided the information for the stone? How does this "confirm" anything? I just have more questions.
[Dr. Gates narrating] But for Ming the biggest surprise was yet to come. His family stele lead our researcher to records in the Shanghai Library. Records that allowed us to construct a Tsai family tree that stretched back more than 90 generations. It was the largest family tree that we've ever constructed and it connected Ming to a legendary figure in Chinese history, Huang Di, one of China's first five emperors, often cited in folklore as the father of the Chinese language."
 Screen cap from The Melting Pot episode of "Finding Your Roots."

Oh, they're looking at microfilm. It must be true.
[Dr. Gates narrating] The records skip several generations so precise genealogy is impossible here but Huang Di is roughly Ming's 116th great-grandfather and just one of the hundreds of new ancestors that we were able to name for him.
The records skip several generations. The records SKIP several generations. The records skip SEVERAL generations. There is no way to say that, continue speaking as if it's no big deal, and not have genealogists everywhere question any research you have ever done.
I was hoping that there would be an explanation on the Finding Your Roots website. Research info, a history lesson, something to help us understand. No such luck. Their genealogy blog only has posts about DNA and Dr. Gates' blog hasn't had a new post since May of 2012.

PREVIOUS POST: Pet Peeve: Ancestry Search Sliders
NEXT POST: Social Disgrace: Rat of God

20 October 2014

Pet Peeve: Ancestry Search Sliders

I posted this issue on Ancestry.com's Facebook page the day the sliders were introduced and it was acknowledged by one of Ancestry's genealogists. Of course, like all reported issues, she said that it would be passed on to the appropriate department. Unfortunately my psychic ability was failing me and I didn't think of getting a screen cap. Since I have been banned from the page all my comments and posts there are unavailable. Disappointing. Here's the problem...

[Above] On the left is the view from a search results page. If you were to hover over the surname slider on Ancestry.com you would find it's set to "exact, sounds like and similar." Open up the full "Edit Search" box and you'll see the view on the right. It shows the surname search set to "default settings" which should be the broadest search possible.

[Below] Move the slider to "Broad" and click the "Update" button. How does that appear in the search box? "Restrict to exact, Soundex, phonetic, similar." Ummm...

Okay. Let's try editing the surname search in the edit box rather than with the sliders.

[Above] Well that's an improvement. (Is the sarcasm coming through?) I couldn't find one setting that appeared the same way in both boxes. Ugh!

The programmers added the sliders when the "old" search was retired over 7 months ago and they have known about the problem since then. Apparently they have no intention of fixing it. Instead they are working on adding features we don't need. Like this one:

The filmstrip icon is shown above on a census record but is available on other collections as well. Click it and this appears:

If you hover over an image on the filmstrip a thumbnail about twice the size of the filmstrip image pops up. Even in the larger pop-up most, maybe even all, records are completely illegible. So how is this helpful? We can already skip to whatever page we want by changing the page number and using the 'enter' key. So Ancestry's programmers are replacing the out-of-date, slowing-down-the-page, old search code with newer, we-don't-need-this, slowing-down-the-page, useless feature code. Meanwhile features we've been asking for, e.g. ability to organize photos and DNA comparison tools, are nowhere to be found. Well done, Ancestry.

PREVIOUS POST: Doppelgänger?
NEXT POST: Etched in Stone

13 October 2014


Rule #7: When researching the women on your tree pay attention to which records you need with her maiden name and which you need with her married name.

Below are the details of two records attached to one profile. The profile is for a Mary Gotshall, married to a Ross. Apparently in someone's mind these women are identical. Anyone else think Mary might not have moved, gotten a job, lost her husband and children, and reverted back to her maiden name all in the span of a day?

1900 U.S. Federal Census
Name: Mary Ross
Birth: May 1878 in Pennsylvania
Marital Status: Married (4 years)
Children: 2 (2 living, ages 3 and 1)
Relation to HoH: Wife
Occupation: (blank)
Residence: Lewisburg, Union, Pennsylvania
Enumeration Date: 11 Jun 1900

1900 U.S. Federal Census
Name: Mary Gotshall
Birth: Apr 1879 in Pennsylvania
Marital Status: Single
Children: None
Relation to HoH: Help
Occupation: Dishwasher at hotel
Residence: Canton, Stark, Ohio
Enumeration Date: 12 Jun 1900

NEXT POST: Pet Peeve: Ancestry Search Sliders

06 October 2014


Rule #5: You do not get to choose your ancestors.
Genealogy is not a buffet. You cannot pick and choose which of your 4th great-grandfather's wives is in your direct line because one is more interesting or easier to research.

Rule #6: Your female ancestor did not give birth when she was 74 years old.
Men can become fathers at any point during their adult lives. The same cannot be said for women. There are a few rare cases of women getting pregnant naturally over the age of 50. There's a list here. A source for one of the births on that list is an Ancestry Member Tree so I wouldn't consider it reliable. It is Wikipedia after all. If you can document a post-50 birth in your tree, without question, then you should go buy a lottery ticket.

You'll notice that this profile breaks Rule #1 and Rule #2 too. It's just all kinds of wrong. Sigh. See what other errors you can find.

 Uploaded numerous times to this tree.
Attached to Lewis O Garner 2nd and Lewis Oliver Garner 3rd.
 Title: tree-direct ancestor

 Lewis O Garner 2nd
 Birth 1793 in Howard Mill Area, Moore, North Carolina, United States
 Death 1879 in Ryans Glade, Garrett, Maryland, United States

 Elizabeth Rickmeyer (1762-1860)
 ✿ Lewis Oliver Garner 3rd, b. 1840

Uploaded numerous times to this tree.
 Attached to Mary Elizabeth Yow.
 Title: Female Direct Ancestor

 Mary Elizabeth Yow (1799-1860)
 ✿ William Garner, b. 1791
 ✿ John Garner, b. 1794
 ✿ Phoebe Garner, b. 1798
 ✿ Hulda Garner, b. 1800
 ✿ Lewis Garner, b. 1802
 ✿ Malinda Garner, b. 1803
 ✿ Frances GARNER, b. 1820
 ✿ John H Garner, b. 1821
 ✿ Sallie Sarah Garner, b. 1823
 ✿ William Garner, b. 1826
 ✿ Elizabeth Garner, b. 1828
 ✿ Frances Frannie Garner, b. 1830
 ✿ Lydia Garner, b. 1832
 ✿ Margaret Garner, b. 1833
 ✿ William Garner, b. 1837
 ✿ John Garner, b. 1839
 ✿ Mary A Garner, b. 1858
 ✿ Richard McCorey Yow, b. 1870
 ✿ Florence J Yow, b. 1876

 Elizabeth Yow (1799-1860)
 ✿ Sallie Sarah Garner, b. 1823

 Rebecca Spinks Yow (1835-1911)

 ✿ 1790 United States Federal Census
    Lewis Garner

Thanks to Kristin for the link to this profile ;-)
If you have a tree or profile to suggest please send the link to buwtree(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks! 

PREVIOUS POST: The Biblical Rule
NEXT POST: Doppelgänger?