Friday, February 22, 2008

A New Way to Share Genealogy?

I have heard of Scribd before, but I've never investigating the site. It works basically like You Tube where users can submit items and other people can comment and react to items posted except that it is for documents instead of videos. As I was investigating the site for use in the classes I teach, I wondered if anyone was using it for genealogy, and if so, what the quality of the research contributed was.

I did a basic search for genealogy and discovered that over 1000 documents are tagged "genealogy". It displayed only the first 1000 for me. I decided to investigate the first page of documents which was supposed to be 20 sites.

The first document that came up was about Family History Tours in Lithuania. It appears to be a document advertising tours offered by a Lithuanian native for Americans with Lithuanian ancestry. It refers readers to other web sites for more information.

The second document that came up was an undocumented genealogical report for the Sikes family which contained information on living persons. [Most of the living persons included have a surname other than Sikes.] There is a contact e-mail on the report, but the usefulness of such an undocumented report is questionable. The third, fourth, and fifth documents were much the same as this report and created by the same person other families.

The sixth document was's genealogy relationship chart.

The seventh document is a report entitled The Problem of the Genealogy of Jesus written by Prof. M. M. Ninan of San Jose. It is an illustrated 33 page report.

The eighth document is an article from the Honolulu Advertiser entitled "Who's In Your Family Tree?"

The ninth document is entitled "The Mystery of Frederick French" and appears to be the first narrative-style document of family history exploring a genealogical problem. I only see two footnotes in the entire document and these are only lists of children. There is nothing giving source information for anything in the form of footnotes. There are also a few internal references to other sources. The author claims copyright and provides contact information.

The tenth document is by the author of the ninth and is a narrative describing "The Story of Cantin Dionne." This one is extensively footnoted but many of the footnotes contain incomplete citations. Copyright is claimed. There are maps included. The author's contact information is available.

The eleventh document is a genealogy program-produced descendants report for Marmaduke Blezard. There has been a recent discussion of the editing often needed on reports of this nature on the listserv for the Association of Professional Genealogists. This report is no exception to this. If the author had tried to develop this into a narrative, they probably could have spotted the areas for which they lack needed documentation. This report does have better documentation than many generated reports I've seen. (See Randy's post about the discussion on the APG list.)

The twelfth document appears to be the National Genealogical Society's Standards and Guidelines translated into German.

The thirteenth document was off-topic as it was "The Genealogy of Public Opinion Polling." It is the reprint of an article.

The fourteenth document caught my attention because it was entitled The Cherry Hill-Poplar Springs-Reid Community in Calhoun County, Mississippi. It is the second edition of the work by Monette Morgan Young and is 272 pages long. This document is absolutely fascinating to me, and I plan to explore it further. This county is only a couple of counties away from my home county of Monroe County, Mississippi, and I recognized many of the names.

The fifteenth document is "Sweet, French, Sibbald, and Toomey Family History." It was written by the author of the ninth and tenth documents. There are illustrations. This appears to be a New England family history. This appears to be less organized than some of the other reports by this author and is lacking in the area of documentation except that some of the illustrations support claims in the report.

The sixteenth document is entitled "Strange Deaths, Suicides, Train Accidents, Obituaries, 200+ Page Antique Scrapbook." It is, quite obviously, a hodge-podge of sources. It is a very interesting item though. [On page 9 is a poem entitled "The Girl I Loved in Sunny Tennessee." I couldn't resist including that one.]

The seventeenth document was a software announcement.

The eighteenth document is Memoirs and Reminiscences by Rev. Casper Schaeffer, M.D. It is not an image scan of the book but appears to be an OCR one with images added.

The nineteenth document is a book that has the word genealogy inside it but which appears to be totally irrelevant.

That last one is supposed to be the 20th document, but I double-checked, and it was the 19th. Apparently they counted the ads between the 4th and 5th entries as an entry also.

What conclusions did I make? There is some useful information on this site, but it has not reached its potential. Like most genealogical web sites, the quality of the content is not uniform. Some stuff is great. Some stuff is nearly worthless. There were a couple of times that I wondered whether or not a copyright had been infringed.

Does the site have potential? I think that's an easy call to make. Yes. I will state that we need to make sure that we comment on those items we encounter that are not "up to par" and which compromise the privacy of living individuals. That's the beauty of this shared environment versus the traditional web page. We can have our say. I plan to register for the site later on this evening and do just that! I invite others to join me! We may not be able to prevent some of the bad stuff from being out there, but we can point out the weaknesses. We also need to be sure to praise those who put up quality stuff!

1 comment:

Terry Thornton said...

Lori, Thanks for sharing the link to Monnette Morgan Young's CHERRY HILL-POPLAR SPRING-REID COMMUNITY reference. I've spent the last couple of hours reading --- it is an excellent source of information about the area near where my mother grew up. I, too, recognized many of the surnames. Thanks.