Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Genealogists who research far enough back – and it’s not really that far in genealogical terms – will have to learn about the Julian and Gregorian calendars, and how each one affects dates that we recognize today.

“New Years Day” has not always been celebrated on the first of January. Calendars were developed to make sense of the natural cycles of time: days and years are derived from the solar cycle, while months come from the lunar cycle. There are many calendars, as it took some experimentation before we finally settled on the current system of leap years. For our purposes, we’re only concerned with the Julian and Gregorian calendars.

The Julian calendar resulted from Julius Caesar’s changes to conform more closely to the seasons within a year. Started in 45 BC, the Julian calendar held March 25th as the first day of the year, and every year was 365 days and 6 hours long. Pope Gregory XIII determined in 1582 the gradual problem that had developed when using the Julian calendar: over time the calendar was 10 days off the natural solar cycle. So Pope Gregory XIII created the Gregorian calendar, which is the one we use today. To compensate for the days which were out of sync, the Gregorian calendar dropped 10 days from October in 1582. The Pope also had everyone jump ahead by 10 days to make up for the lost days due to the earlier erroneous calendar.

Because of the calendar change in 1752 the calendar changed to a January 1st new year, and accommodations had to be made in the way dates were written to avoid confusion. Dates were designated O.S. (old style) and N.S. (new style). Such dates are usually identified by a slash mark [/] breaking the “Old Style” and “New Style” year, for example, March 19, 1631/2. Occasionally, writers would express the double date with a hyphen, for example, March 19, 1631-32. In general, double dating was more common in civil than church and ecclesiastical records.

Although current genealogical standards have us retain Old Style dates in transcriptions, historians and genealogists need to be aware that some people living at the time converted the date of an event, such as a birthday, from Old Style to New Style. George Washington, for example, was born on February 11, 1731 under the Julian Calendar, but changed the date to February 22, 1732 to reflect the Gregorian Calendar.

There are many pages online with more in depth explanations of the Julian and Gregorian Calendars. Simply search on Julian and Gregorian Calendars, or genealogy double dating.

No, it’s not some sort of kinky inbreeding – at least, not deliberately. We don’t think!

Pedigree collapse happens when there are shared ancestors in a pedigree. In some locations, cousins would marry as there were not many people to choose from. The days when families had 8 or 10 or more children meant that lots of the Jones family was available to marry the Smith family, and if the Brown family had plenty, that was all you needed! Bobby Jones married Susan Smith, and Bobby’s brother John Johns married Susan’s sister Sally. Parallel families who eventually re-intermarried cause some pedigrees to show the same ancestors two, three or more times.

You end up being descended from the same person or parents multiple times. Royal families do it all the time, and it turns out that “commoners” do it as well. Some people find it outrageous, while others are fascinated.

Isn’t genealogy fun?

Taking genealogy courses allow you to update what you already know, or learn new things. There are PLENTY of genealogy places that offer courses, so you need to review who’s giving the course, what the course subject is, does it require any prerequisites to take the course you want to take, is it online learning or at home learning, and – sometimes the most important part – how much it costs.

Anyone can get started in genealogy without needing any education. But we often find out that a course or two really enhances our knowledge. There are many paid sites where you can register for courses, but offers FREE courses through their Online University. Their course offerings include Beginning Genealogy, Internet Genealogy, Tracing Immigrant Origins, and Researching with Genealogy.Com. They also have some fundamental articles on Getting Started on their site.

FamilySearch also offers free courses online. Their courses also range from beginner to advanced, and cover many topics from ethnic groups to international research. And their courses are offered in a variety of languages. Family Search is provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As with any popular hobby, there’s always someone out there trying to do their best to lure you in to their website fraudulently. offers a great page on “How to Identify & Avoid Genealogy Scams” which you should check out if you have any questions about the site or an email that you receive.

On a quick aside: thanks for the inquiries that have come personally. Having had some health issues the past few months has side-tracked my ability to post. I appreciate your concern and well wishes!


Technology and Genealogy

   Posted by: HystoryByts Tags: , , , , ,

Technology can certainly help us with our research and organization! As a gadget addict, I can attest to having a lot of techno-baubles. I received an email with the question, “How much do you really think you’ll write about technology and not genealogy on your blog?” Honestly, I don’t know. I’m not sure that I can separate the two personally, as I use so much technology. But I do know that there’s LOTS to be written about. If you have something specific you’d like to know about, drop me a line or add a comment.

As supporting evidence, I’d like to introduce you to RootsTech, the family history and technology conference. This year, RootsTech is February 2-4 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City. Yes, this year – it happens annually. There’s that much to learn about technology and genealogy.

There are two specific sides to RootsTech: developers and users. Developers come to share information about creating the gadgets and programs that may be of use to genealogists. Genealogists come to find out the latest methods of making our searches easier. Plus, as users, we have a opportunity to tell the developers what works, what doesn’t, and what wild wishes we’d like to see created. Both Ancestry and Familysearch organizations have multiple representatives on hand giving speeches, workshops, or just listening.

Some of the speakers will include:

  • D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS — Do I Trust the Cloud?
  • David Barney — Google’s Efforts to Improve Genealogy Research
  • Kory Meyerink — The Fifty Most Popular Genealogy Websites (Really!)

And if all that isn’t enough, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy runs starting today with educational tracks designed for the more advanced researcher. While too late to register now, you can look at the different class tracks offered this year. It runs through the 27th – just before RootsTech. So if you have a couple weeks free…