My classmates and I have continued to work on our Mapping Marriage project over the past several weeks. There were still couples that we were unable to find using Heritage Quest, so we decided to use another search method. Family Search works in much the same way that Heritage Quest does in that you can search for a person with identifiers like name, residence, birth date, etc. However, Family Search includes many types of records beyond census records. Death certificates, draft registrations, and more are all included in the Family Search database. By searching for our couples in this database, we were hoping that we’d be able find residences for the people we got stuck on using just Heritage Quest.
So how successful was this new tactic? I’d say it’s been a mixed bag. We’ve managed to locate dozens more individuals through Family Search, so that’s been a huge positive. Family Search, since it’s primarily used as a genealogy research and documentation resource, allows users to create “profiles” of their ancestors. These profiles have documents relating to the individual attached, meaning that if we find any document pertaining to the individual in question, chances are the census data we’re looking for will also be attached to their profile. This has been an extremely helpful feature for finding more geographic data for the people we were stuck on. However, since these profiles are entirely user created, there is not a profile for everybody we’re searching for. In those instances, the same old search tactics we have been using still apply.
Although Family Search has allowed us to find more people, we’ve still run into some of the same kinds of problems as we did on Heritage Quest. Some of the people we’re searching for don’t seem to exist; they don’t have documentation on either site. Another common problem I’ve run into is the determining the correct individual when there is more than one person with the same name. This problem can be circumvented if the person has a Family Search profile, but in cases where they don’t, we’re still stuck. There are a significant number of people that we simply won’t be able to find within the time frame we have for this project. While it’s frustrating to know that our spreadsheets won’t be full, at some point we have to just move on to the next step to keep the overall project moving along and finished by the end of the semester.
We still have a lot of work to do before the project is completed. We have to make maps of our data, create an ArcGIS Story Map to display the data, do some further research, and present our findings. First up for me is the Story Map. It should be a relatively quick process to make a framework Story Map, but the real work will come once we have all our data in and need to refine the Story Map. If you have any ideas of design elements or content suggestions for our Story Map, leave them in the comments below!