Friday, October 28, 2011

I come by it honestly__Our teenage experiment

Joseph Hatten Carpenter, my great grandfather (father's father's father) was an amazing genealogist. When he immigrated to the United States from England he became very interested in his family history and over the course of his life he collected information about over 40,000
people who intersected with his ancestral lines. At the time, you did genealogy by writing back and forth to parish priests in England and asking for information out of their records. As he was sent letters containing all the parish records about a certain name, the Alders, the Shramms, the
Carpenters, the Meiers, The Rotachs, The Wrights, The Bevans, The Gibbs, and etc, he would sit in his living room in Manti and piece together the families from those records. He used pencil and paper and was a meticulous record keeper. When he died at the age of 103, he had collected 18 volumes of family group sheets and other various pedigree charts and records. These were passed down through the family to my father’s cousin Mark Carpenter. Over the years, various cousins have worked on these lines, but no one has ever really brought all of grandpa’s work into the digital age.

Grandfather knew he was collecting information on more than just his direct line ancestors. In fact, he wrote in his journals that he knew he was tracing 3 lines that he assumed were connected back before the records started. As far as the cousins have been able to tell so far, there are probably only 3-4000 people who are actually on my own lines.

Mark has graciously gone through and taken pictures of each of the pages of the 18 volumes of family group sheets. We have set up these images on a and we proposed to do a family digitization project. In working with this part of my family, it has become really clear to me that no one person can really build on my grandfather’s work. He had a very quiet life in rural Utah and none of us have the luxury of the kind of time he had to work on his family history. In order to digest and build on his work, we are going to have to work together as a family to digitize what he did so that we can use modern techniques of building on and gleaning from what he gathered.

So, although his genealogy work is a derivative source, we’ve decided to digitize those family group sheets into a computer program. We’ve done this for several reasons that are outlined on the website here. Derivative sources are valuable if:
  • A derivative source adds analysis
  • A derivative source points to material that we may not have found otherwise
  • A derivative source is in error—along with an explanation of why the source is wrong
  • A derivative source cites a work that no longer exists.
One of my cousins actually thinks he went wrong just a couple of generations up, but he may be looking at sources my grandfather never saw, or my grandfather may have been looking at sources unavailable to my cousin now. We have to digest his work to be able to tell.

So this fall, I asked my 10 year old daughter, 13 year old son and 15 year old son if we could try to digitize one of the volumes of my great-grandfather’s genealogy work for my parents for Christmas. As I said earlier, it’s been a slow start. But stay tuned—I’m still working on them.


JJT said...

Very interesting! I hope for all of your sake (and his) that JHC did not go wrong there in early generations...

By the way, I found that your first link to the site didn't work - have to add a 'family' to the URL:

Janet Hovorka said...

Thanks for catching that. You are right. Thanks.