From time to time, I’ve been working on family histories. Several years ago, when I was asked to do Family History consulting on a volunteer basis, at the same time the “New Family Search” software and website was becoming available in my part of the country, I became once again frustrated with the multiplicity of data (variations in dates, places, names, etc) contributed by different researchers. One of the best pieces of advice I heard was “Know your family”. I looked at a pedigree chart, saw a bunch of names, and thought, “I don’t know these people. They are only names to me”. So, I started doing something about it. I started using ancestry.com, which at the time offered good access to images of the US Census, and compiling skeletal family histories, based largely on birth dates and birth places of children. In some cases, I found too little information, because not enough people had contributed: in others, where was considerable confusion. I decided that It would work better for me to work forward from known ancestors so that I could get to know the family, and then then use that information as clues to help sort which family I am gathering information is correct, and solve some genealogical puzzles that way. There are multiple tools and websites, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
A good deal of my work-in-progress is on ancestry.com, but I also use Family Search – Family Tree, and I’ve also been using MyHeritage.com. I’m trying to get the basic skeletal outline of a family first, and get an idea of which facts are well known, and which are in some dispute, and then go through and nail down details and sources. So far, I have on the main file some 19 families and part families running to 5 pages, and then a second document with about 9 families with the family of a particular one of my ancestors and his descendants. I will eventually want to split some of these out, but I’m pleased with the progress I’ve been making.
For the sake of variety, I decided to try a variant of the bottom up approach. physics, chemistry, astronomy, and earth science are still being connected to areas of culture and anthropology while biology is being connected to the human body. The human body is almost fully connected to culture, psychology is being connected to details of anthropology, and biography is being connected to psychology and the human body. Social foundations, demography, physical anthropology, and human ecology are being connected to science. I finally managed to get the a page about the application of sociology separated out from human ecology and one from human geography. I have done a little work on the history of particular groups and the history of material culture and conceptual culture, also the histories of families. Education, economics, and government are being connected to nations. Religion has a few more connections to details of government.
An attempt at a review of the history of science shows me that, while I am making some progress at reviewing the history of the world in the 18th century, I don’t yet have enough detail on the particular sciences to make much progress here.
I’ve had family visiting here for the past week, so I’ve been a little bit busy. I haven’t been too busy to read some of my favorites. I didn’t find much good new SF&F on the shelves at the local library, but I found a couple by J. A. Jance. “Left for Dead” was a reread, but “Moving Target” was new to me.
I also found a few by Ann Perry: “Midnight at Marble Arch”, which turned out to be a reread, “Death on Blackheath”, which was new to me, and “The Angel Court Affair”, also new to me.
For other recent rereads, I have Elizabeth Moon “Once a Hero”, and then I had to go back and reread “Hunting Party”, “Sporting Chance” and “Winning Colors”.
I made some progress in using the connections of Antiquity to nations and peoples of Africa to broaden the connections of later periods to those (and other) nations. There were developments in early medieval history, and the 17th and 18th centuries in general. The raw material for following interactions among the United Kingdom, Russia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Ottoman empire, and Persia in the 18th and 19th centuries is being mentioned, and more of the European colonization of Africa is also being developed.
I have been concentrating on connecting religion (in general) to details of government. I am not quite done, but it’s no longer an obstacle.
I took a break from reviewing history and started trying to advance religion. I finally reached my goal on connecting religions to particular nations, added communities, and reviewed most of the connections of social mechanics. I hope to finish reviewing those and begin connecting to government.
Today’s efforts produced more progress in adding details of history. I am starting to connect nations to the late 17th century, which will allow me to start working on European exploration and discovery. Developments in the 18th century included mostly broadening of the major groups of peoples in the various 20-year periods. Although various nations had snippets of history added, these are not yet very well woven together. I am developing more details of the British conquest of South Asia, and references to the Atlantic slave trade are stating to appear more often. Periods of the 19th century had a little more development, 20th century European history now has more material for the United Kingdom, France, and Italy. The early 20th century has more references to the First World War and the mid 20th century has more references to the Second World War, although still not enough for a good outline.
I shifted back to another approach I have been using to develop the knowledge base. This time around it was a bit more satisfying. I have more information on France and Germany in the early 19th century, more information on Egypt, Turkey, and Iran, and a little bit more about Pakistan in the 19th century. These are mostly snippets to be added in later, but these are the kind of details that go to make a more coherent and readable history.