12 November 2011

What is Ancestral Profiling?

Ancestral Profiling is the term I use to describe the process I use in my research to learn more about my ancestors as people. Information may be factual, documented, deducible, speculative, or missing, and will be identified as such in the text. The delineations of these terms, as I use them here, are:
  1. Factual: 
  • Information from an acceptable documented source or known first-hand by myself.
  • "Acceptable" sources can be various, but examples would include vital records, obituaries, and marriage licenses, as well as my own personal experiences with more recent ancestors.. I take a little liberty with this blog that I may not necessarily take when entering information into my genealogy database. Readers are encouraged to keep this in mind (in other words, *I* may know of a certain fact about an ancestor based on my interaction(s) with them, but others who did not know them would not gather that information simply by searching for demographic information).
     2.  Documented:
  • Information that has been documented in a credible source but may still contain errors. Examples of "documented" information would include information from Census Records, Newspaper Articles, or information found in a Family Bible that belonged to the person being profiled (or his/her immediate family members). This information -- and the source of it -- is information that would be in my RootsMagic4 database.
     3.  Deducible:
  • This is information that might be deduced given the information at hand. For example, a profile might deduce that an uncle was brave because of his service in the armed forces. Deducible information will often relate to potential personality traits based on the ancestor's occupation, hobbies, or other lifestyle choices.
     4.  Speculative:
  • Speculative information is more varied than Deducible information. This delineation will be used to express wonderment, as in "I wonder if this person was related to that person" and, while there will be reasons to make the speculation, is not to be used as admission criteria into a database of known information (i.e., I would not put this information into my RootsMagic4 database, but the idea has to be considered). 
     5.  Missing:
  • This category of information is quite obvious: The information is not in my collections, whether that be my database, my current holdings, or my knowledge base. When information is missing, I encourage my cousins and other relatives who may have the missing information to email it to me along with the source of that information (including their own first-hand knowledge) and a statement as to how they wish to be credited with that information. They can also comment on that profile via the "Comment" link following each post.
 I hope the information contained in this blog helps me and my family members learn more about our ancestors and by extension, about ourselves. I also hope it helps other genealogists consider another method by which to organize our information as it pertains to genealogical research.

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