Sunday, November 8, 2015

Document Management; no Paper Cuts!

Photo by Author
The doorbell rings, the dog is barking, and the UPS driver is making his escape back up the driveway toward his next delivery.  At your door step...two boxes.  The return address tells you it is from the National Archives.  You've been waiting for this day.  You calm the dog, and proceed to opening the first box, then the second.  Inside...437 pages of a man's life.  This is a Consolidated Military file from Record Group 94.  You carefully thumb through the stacks...everything looks like new and interesting information.  Even documents in the handwriting of the ancestor you've come to know so well.  What do you do next?  

Document management is a big deal.  Putting in the time, and following certain logical steps up front will save you time, save you money, and save you headaches later down the road.  I'm drawing from my years of experience as a financial crimes investigator.  We had paper, boxes and boxes of it.  Truckloads even in one case that comes to mind.  Document management is huge. The good news is, it can be easy...just slow down and follow some basic best practices.  

Okay, so you have this big stack of documents.  It doesn't matter where the paper came from, or what order (or disorder) it is in.  Relax.  As a family researcher you just want to jump into this stack and going trough it.  Or, you might be on the other side thinking to yourself "What should I do?"  Again, just Relax.  Follow these steps:

Step 1.   Preserve Original Order.  Before doing anything else, consider the state you found or received these documents.  There is an order to them, even if they are just thrown into a box.  One document is on top, others below it, and one is last.  Step back and look.  Think of this like a 'crime scene' or sorts.  You don't know what happened, you just know what you see.  In most cases the documents will have some order, and we want to preserve that order.  It could be important later.  Do not place the documents in any order before going to the next step.  Whatever you do, you need to able to put these documents back into the original order; recreate the 'crime scene.'  We do this by using a numbering system.

Step 2.  Numbering.  Starting with the first or top document, we need to assign a number to each page.  Even blank documents and documents that don't look important.  A simple 1, 2, 3 etc., is okay, but not great.  Just a number on the corner of a document doesn't tell me much.  1 of 437, 2 of 437, 3 of 437 tells me more.  I now know this page 67, came from the stack of documents that numbered 437 in total.  But, we can do better than that.  We want to be able to say this was the 67th document from the Consolidated Military File.  You may have also acquired a Pension File, the Civil War File, or the box of genealogical materials from your late Aunt Mary.  A better way to number a document is with an identifier that names the stack documents.  For the Consolidated Military File, I used "CF".  CF001, CF002, CF003 etc.  The Pension File's documents are numbered using "PF".  PF001, PF002, PF003 etc.  Civil War..."CW".    So now, we can tell the difference between the 67th page of the Consolidated Military File and the 67th page of the Civil War file.  Believe me, they will look a lot alike!  No guessing about this matter.  We know what we have because we took the time to Number the Original Order(s).  Now, put those numbers on the face of the document.  I know you might not like this idea, but it ties into the following steps.  I've have used little pre-printed stickers and just wrote the numbers by hand.  Both are fine.

Step 3.  Scanning.  Yes, scanning.  Paper is good, but you only have one of each.  Things happen, papers get lost.  By scanning the documents you add the flexibility to sort and share them in various files.  And there is a back-up.  Frankly, I don't much care what happens to the original documents after I have them scanned.  Oh, I keep a big file box with all the other stacks of paper I've scanned.  So now there is a fork in the road on how best to approach scanning these documents.  You could pick out only certain of the documents and scan those, or scan the whole darn stack.  If you pick and choose, you run the risk of not making a copy (scan) of something found to be important later.  It can also mess with the computer generated numbering we will discuss below.  If you scan everything, in the order you numbered them, magic starts to happen.  I promise!  Scanning 437 pages wasn't fun.  I did it over several sittings.  Oh, did I add that each page needs to be individually scanned?  Yes, one by one.  You'll see why later.  Scan each document, in the correct ordination, with the number you applied visible in the scan.  Scan them in order...this is very important.  Lastly, file them in a folder containing just the documents from that stack.  Pension File in one folder, Civil War File in another.
Step 4.  Naming Scanned Documents.  Okay, you numbered everything, scanned the individual pages of paper in order, and they are all in the same folder with only documents from that stack.  Now the fun begins, and your hard-work pays off.  I want you to select all files in that folder (Ctrl A) and right click, Rename.  Click on the First document in the list, the first one you scanned for the Rename.

Next, Rename all files with the letter code you gave to this stick of documents.  "CW", "PF", "CF" etc.  Okay!  What just happened?  Your computer can not have two or more files with the same name in the same folder.  There is no way to have a file named "CW" in the same folder with another file also named "CW".  The computer assigned a suffix number to the list of documents you just renamed.  

So if this is done correctly, meaning you scanned the documents in order, and you renamed all the documents at the same time, from the top...magic.  CW (1) is the same as scan CW001.  Got it?

Step 5.  Sorting.  "Okay Mr. Cat Box Genealogist wise guy, my documents are still in the same order (or no order) they were when I started this!"  I got ya.  But they ARE numbered correctly.  Typically, any stack of paper you get will have some order.  The documents copied by NARA are copied from the first of their stack to the bottom of the stack.  And, how or why were they in that order at NARA?  Hard to say.  But, this is a Consolidated File.  As documents came in, they were but into the file.  Ole Aunt Mary may have put those documents in that box as she received them.  Date order is not important at this point.  Being able to reconstruct the 'crime scene' is.  

So now we get to sort these documents.  And you can sort them in any order you want.  Maybe you just want a folder with your ancestor's original signature.  Or you want only the interesting documents in the final work.  But, if you're like me...they need to be in date order.  Chronologically!  The Consolidated Military File I received from NARA was no where near in chronological order.  I might have put them in order at the paper stack stage, but then I would have lost the Original Order.  So, lets put these files in order my date.

Start anywhere you want, open one of the documents and look for it's logical date.  Once you have the date, close the document.  Now we are going to rename just that one document.  But, it needs to be named in a certain fashion.  Here's how.   

Lets say you determine the document was dated on December 7th, 1941, rename the document "1941.12.7 CW (1)".  We already have the "CW (1)" from the last step.  Now we are adding the date.  And the date must be entered YEAR,MONTH.DAY.  Your computer will sort all files in a given folder in order.  We are assigning dates as file names, thus the files will be sorted in date order.  I see the light over your head coming on now!  Look at this.  Three dates, for three documents.  December 7th, 1941, July 9th, 1961, February 12th 1996.  Each are document dates and our documents need to be in order, 1941, 1961, 1996.  

I know I'm using silly dates for the Civil War, but this is just an example.  Look what happened.  Even though CW (7) was below CW (1) and CW (4) in the stack of original documents, by renaming the files with dates in this fashion, all the files magically sort themselves out into date order.  (Be careful not to over write the Letter Code when remaining with dates.) This process of adding dates to documents is very powerful, as we will see below.  

What next?  You could stop here.  After all the documents are sorting into chronological order, reading them reads like a story.  It all makes sense.  But you can do more.

Step 6.  Better names.  Here is an example from a project I'm working on.  Here I've applied a short title, between the date and the letter coding, to identify the document.

Notice I'm retaining the Letter Coding and Original Document Order.  This helps me to see what these documents are about without opening them one by one.  

Step 7.  Timeline Power!  So I have all these individual folders with different types of documents in each folder...CF, PF, CW.  They are all in date order, but still in their original folders.  What if I could see them all together.  What a story they would tell! Lets do that. So the process is this.  Create a new folder.  Copy and Paste the contents of CF, PF, and CW all into the new folder.  Retain all documents in their original folders!  This is a Copy, not a Move.  What would that look like? 

So, for the project I'm working on, I have been collecting, scanning as necessary, renaming by date order, and dropping copies into one BIG Master Folder.  This is the story of his life!  

Here we can see different types of documents collected from various sources.  Each in chronological order.  I really like seeing Press Accounts mixed in the with NARA documents, and those lined up with the normal vital records, Census documents, etc.  

So in closing, just a little bit of extra work done upfront add value to the end result.  Can you see how easy this method of putting things together would make story writing?

Modify this process to your own application.  You might, for instance, prefer to keep separate folders for each of the various original source documents; not mixing one with another.  That's fine, just be able to recall, access, and apply the data.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Finding what you are looking for, without looking for it...

One of my long term genealogical research projects has been to prepare a detailed narrative documenting the life of Colonel Augustus G. Tassin, U. S Army (1838 - 1893).  Colonel Tassin is my second great-grand uncle.  He was born in France, immigrated to America in 1852, and joined the 35th Indiana Volunteers in 1861, at the age of 23.   He lived in Leopold Indiana at the time.

When I first got interested in Colonel Tassin, I happened upon a Yahoo Group devoted to the memory of the 35th (First Irish) Volunteers.  I looked through the group's various pages and found some interesting history.  I also found images of some typed daily diary pages made by an officer in the same unit; it wasn't the complete diary.  They were detailed and made reference to Tassin.  I copied them for later research use; I would someday search for the entire diary and probably use it in my report of Colonel Tassin.

Locating Hugh Gallagher's diary went on my "To Do" list and from time to time, I'd check listings of manuscripts and like documents for any clues.  I never got serious about an all out search, knowing that I didn't need the diary right away.  This is a long term project after all.

As I started writing about the various Civil War battles Colonel Tassin was involved in, came across a book written about ethnic regiments in the Union Army up on the Internet at Google Books.  The book is Melting Pot Soldiers by William L. Burton.  A quick scan of the bibliography uncovered several references like this one.

From my readings about the 35th, I recognized the surnames Mullen, Morton (the then Governor of Indiana), and of course Tassin.  And, there's Hugh Gallagher, the author of the diary I'm interested in seeing.  Here we see the book's author is referring to "...photocopy of the Hugh Gallagher Papers, InHS..."  Another quick scan of the book's bibliography and I learned that "InHS" refers to the Indiana Historical Society.

Over to the website for the the Indiana Historical Society, and this is what I find in the appendix of a Civil War Research Guide...

"...letters, regimental history, regimental records, correspondence, diary, visual item."  Diary?  Perfect, just what I've been looking for.  This has to be Hugh Gallagher's Diary.

While the book that pointed me in the right direction can be viewed on Google Books, I bought my own copy - gently used - for less than what it would have cost me in fuel, parking, and time to view it at the local university.  There are several other references to the 35th Indiana, with other sources that are worth follow-up.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sidney A. Marchand Sr.'s, An Attempt to Re-Assemple the OLD SETTLERS IN FAMILY GROUPS

In 1965, Sidney A Marchand Sr., compiled an index of Acadians from Ascension Parish Louisiana.  His book is named An Attempt to Re-Assemple the OLD SETTLERS IN FAMILY GROUPS, published by Claitor's Book Store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  His work attempted to reassemble about seven hundred families of the original settlers of Ascension Parish, many of them former residents of Acadia.  Mr. Marchand used records on file at the Recorder's Office in Ascension Parish, dated 1770 to 1805, to establish his work.  While there is no index to names, the entries made are in alphabetical order by Surname.  Here is a list (an index) of all Theriots (with several name variants) found in Marchand's book.

Entry Page Detail
13 2 Jacque Terrio sold 4 arps to Jacque LeBlanc
15 2 Jacque Therriot bought 4 arps from Pierre Arceneaux
30 6 Marie Therriot, mother of Firmin Landry (husb Rene Landry)
30 6 Therriot owned land on the east bank of the Mississippi River
36 8 Joseph Babin and Anne Theriot of Piziquid Acadia
61 12 Augustin Benoit and Francoise Terrio
64 12 Francoise Elizabeth Terrio (Jacque Terrio and Francoise Guerin) (m) Augustin Bellony Bergeron (germain and Marguerite LeBlanc) on 28 July 1806
126 19 Reine Rosalie Dupuy (Firmin and Marie Joseph Therriot) (m) Charles Cleondre Braud 6 Feb 1816
132 20 Ferdinand Terrio (Oliver Therrio and Marie Aucion (m) Marie Aspasie Braud 17 Jan 1825
133 20 Marie Henrietta Dupry (Firmin and Marie Joseph Therriot) (m) Joseph Brand Jr 6 Feb 1816
136 21 Rose Dupuy (Firmin Dupuy and Marie Joseph Terrio) (m) Entenne Urbain Braud 20 Aug 1810
136 21 Jean Noel Dupuy (Firmin and Marie Joseph Terrio) (m) Marie Clemence Braud 24 Apr 1820.  Marie (d) 31 Dec 1826 at 29 years old.
139 22 Martire Terrio (Oliver Terrio and Marie Aucion) (m) Joseph Alexandre Braud 2 Jan 1821
247 37 Marie Celeste Dupuis (Fermin and Marie Joseph Terrio) (m) Antoine Leon Duplessis 24 Apr 1820
253 39 Marie Theriot (Jean Jacque and Marguerite Richard) (m) Firmin Dupuy (Jean Baptiste and Anne Richard) on 15 Feb 1790.  Firmin of St. Gabriel. (c1) Oliver Joseph (m) Anne Marie Gailes on 20 Aug 1810. (c2) Rose m Etienne Urbain Braud 20 Aug 1810 and (m) Jean Louis Parent 7 Apr 1819.  (c3) Jean Noel (m) Marie Clenence Braud 24 Apr 1820.  Marie Celeste m Antoine Leon Deplessis 24 Apr 1820.  (c5) Marie Henriette (m) Joseph Braud 6 Feb 1816.  (c6) Reine Roselie (m) Charles Alexandre Braud 6 Feb 1816.  Anne Richare (d) 1 Nov 1811 and age 86.  Firmin d 28 Oct 1819 and age 74.  Marie Theriot (d) 14 Dec 1822
278 42 Sebastain Benoist [male] (Augustin and Francoise Terrio) (m) Jeanne de la Foretiere 16 Aug 1789
293 44 Jean Terrio (Oliver and Marie Aucoin) (m) Francoise Arthemise Gautreau 26 Feb 1821.  Jean was widower of Marie Mageleine Landry
297 44 Marie Therriot (Charles and Marie Boudreaux) (m) Joseph Gautreau Jr on 9 Feb 1793
299 44 Francois Terrio [jr] (Francois Terrio [sr] and Susanne Robichaux) (m) Adelaide Gautreau 6 Feb 1792
305 45 Honore Giroire and Marie Joseph Theriot of St. Malo France (c ) Marie Rose Giroire (m) Francois Sebastien Landry 10 Aug 1793
344 49 Oliver Landry (Rene Landry and Marie Theriot) (m) Marie Magdeleine Hebert 7 Feb 1775
374 54 Jean Kling and Rosalie Pauline Terrio (Charles and Margurite Rassat) (m) 29 Jan 1798
383 55 Charles Theriot of Cabahanoce (m) Justine LaHuvre (Nicolas and Marguerite Saugere 25 Jun 1805 [Agnas Daigles's name is in record by unk relationship]
387 55 Joseph Babin (Joseph and Anne Theriot) of Piziquid Acadia (m) Marie Landry (Abram and Isabel LeBlanc) 2 Feb 1768
390 56 Marie Rose Giroir (Honore Giroir and Marie Joseph Theriot of St. Malo) m Francois Sebastian Landry 10 Aug 1793
424 63 Jean Terrio (Oliver and Marie Aucoin)  (m) Magdeleine Landry 23 Feb 1807
430 64 Marie Terrio (Olover and Marie Aucion) (m) Pierre Paul Landry 27 Jan 1823
432 64 Firmin Landry sold Jacque Therriot a place, 6 arp., 25 LNO, East side of river, one side by Olivier Therriot
439 65 Rene Landry and Marie Therriot (c ) Felicite m Charles Melancon 5 Feb 1768, m2 Bona Venture Babin 10 Nov 1788
439 66 Estate of Rene Landry and Marie Therriot 
441 66 Valentin Terrio (Oliver Terrio and Marie Ocoin [sic Aucion] (m) Marie Justine Landry 3 Feb 1817
470 72 Mathurin LeBlanc and Rosalie Theriot (c ) Marie Farcile (m) Hypolite Chauvin 6 July 1807
515 79 Paul Melancon and Marie Theriot (c ) seven total (c1) Jean Bte [Jean Baptiste], (c2) Philip, (c3) Paul, (c4) Marie Madeleine, (c5) Marie.  Marie [Theriot] widow (m) Armand Prejean on 7 Nov 1773.
537 83 Widow Mary (Knossis) O'Brien and her (c ) sold to Olivier Therriot a house 20' x 16', east side of the river 25 Leages above New Orleans.
546 84 Marie Rose Dupuy (Firmin and Marie Terrio) widow of Urbain Braud (m) Jean Louis Parent on 7 Apr 1819.
565 86 Marie Theriot is the 2nd wife of Armand Prejean [from record # 515]
647 94 Charles Terrio and Marie Boudreaux (c ) Marie (m) Joseph Gautreau 9 Feb 1793
648 95 Chrales Thrrio and Marguerite Bassat (c ) Rosalie Pauline (m) Jean Kling, 29 Jan 1798
649 95 Francois Terrio and Susanne Robichaud (c ) Francois Jr (m) Adelaide Gautros, 6 Feb 1792
650 95 Germain Therriot and Marguerite Boudreaux (c )Marie (m) Paul Melancon [same as record 515] on 7 Nov 1773, m2 Armand Prejean [same as record 515] (c1) Marin, (c2) Joseph, (c3) Andre, (c4) Anne, (c5) Anastasie, (c6) Magdeleine, and (c7) Felicite.
651 95 Jacque Terrio and Francoise Guerin (c ) Francoise Isabel (m) Augustin Belunie Bergeron, 28 July 1806.  [Land purchased by Jacque Therriot]
652 95 Jean Terrio and Marie Magdeleine Landry (m) 27 Feb 1786 (c ) Mathilde (m) Eloi Landry, 23 Feb 1829.  Marie Magdeleine Landry d 8 Oct 1819
653 95 Jean Jacque Therriot and Marguerite Richard of St. Gabriel (c ) Marie (m) Firmin Depuis, 15 Feb 1790.  Marie Therriot d 14 Dec 1882.
654 95 Oliver Terrio and Marie Anne Aucoin of Acadia; (c1) Jean of Nantes France (m) Magdeleine Landry, 23 Feb 1807, and m2 Francoise Arthemise Gotreau on 26 Feb 1821, (c2) Valentin m Marie Justine Landry, 3 Feb 1817; (c3) Martire Joseph Alexandre Braud, widower of Marguerite Richard, on 2 Jan 1821; (c4) Marie m Pierre Paul Landry, on 27 Jan 1823; (c5) Ferdinand (m) Marie Aspasie Braud, 17 Jan 1825; (c6) Olivier Jr is mentioned in H129.
655 95 Paul Terrio and Francoise Melancon widow of Felix Boudreaux of Acadia (m) 22 May 1787.
656 95 Pierre Terrio, widower and Lucia Braud widow (m) 21 Jun 1790.
657 95 Pierre Terrio and Marie Daigle of Acadia (m) 28 Sept 1786
658 96 Pierre Terrio and Anna Hebert (m) 3 Feb 1792
659 96 Thomas Terrio and Agnes Daigle of Kabahanosse, (c ) Charles (m) Justine LaHuvre, 25 Jan 1805

Thursday, May 21, 2015

EBay. EBay? EBay!

Genealogy happens, and it can happen anywhere.  I remember once being in the basement of the Josephine County Oregon county records building, asking questions about mines and geology, in the pursuit of genealogical research.  You never know where a path will take you, or where you will find information about 'your people'.  Here's an example...try looking at EBay.  Why are not looking for a deal on sporting goods, or a collectors quality baseball card right?   Wrong.  Case in point...I just found four original press photographs of one of my ancestors, Algernon Tassin (1869 - 1941) for sale on EBay.  Algernon was a professor at Columbia University and an author.  For whatever reason, he posed for press-core photographs in about 1926.  Four of these photographs, clearly taken on the same day, were for sale on EBay.  I found them by simply searching for the surname Tassin in the EBay search box.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Google Alerts.

Here's a tip that I have used for some time now.  Google Alerts.  We know how to search Google for anything (Anything!) we are interested in.  But Google can also be used to push information back to us, or Alert us, on our area of interest.  For our application, we might elect to receive Google Alerts for our surname, or a full name such as "Bill Smith".  With any more than a single search team, use quotes.

Here are the instructions from Google.