Fascinating New Find About Richard Mellen

Just found a newish website whose author is apparently unwilling to commit to scholarly diligence and credibility. Doug Sinclair wrote a paper about Richard Mellen of Massachusetts, alleged father of Simon Mellen of Sherborne and Framingham.

Mr. Sinclair states that his website doesn’t claim to the standard of scholarly journals, and it certainly doesn’t.

Further, he ignores the clear, cogent, and concise statements at the beginning of my paper on Richard Mellen, and the genealogy of Simon Mellen, that they are each “extended literature review[s].” Further, the next paragraph in those publications cogently states that the focus of each was on “published record sets.” What is not credible or clear about that?

Mr. Sinclair fails to cite his sources for the statements concerning my work, yet appears to cite everything else he writes about. Nothing new was presented that hadn’t been already written about by myself or others, just pictures. One picture in particular clearly shows he read my blog article and paper about Richard “Maling” aka “Waling.” The picture he posted clearly shows a “W”.

Any diligent genealogical researcher will use both of our works as clues only. Any diligent genealogical researcher will also follow the BCG Code of Ethics in using our works.

NPM

Crafting a research question

Many good genealogy programs can help you get started crafting a good research question with their to-do features. RootsMagic has a good one, illustrated below.

The questions to ask before adding a new task are:

  • Who are you going to research?
  • What do you want to learn about the person?
  • Where was the person you are researching?
  • When was the person there?

Additionally, you might ask: Why was the person there at that time? This might seem like an existential question, but it is a good idea to add context to your family history.

These five questions get you started on the way to learning more about your ancestor.

The who is simple enough. The what can include any number of items like where/when were they born, when did they immigrate, where did they emigrate to, and who did they live with/marry/divorce, and so on. Where and when are a bit more complex due to the possible lack of information.

For instance, Lydia Peirce Gorton was born on 28 January 1822. I’ve got her birth date but no birthplace. I want to know where she was born, so I ask, “Where were Lydia Peirce Gorton’s parents, Daniel and Lydia (Peirce) Gorton, when Lydia was born in 1822?” The who, what, and when parts of this question are answered, but the best part is still unanswered: “where”?

The records I’ve got so far say different things, that she was born in Massachusetts, born in New York, born in Vermont. Most likely she was born in Vermont, though. I can make this hypothesis because her older brother was born there, and a few original records say so. This leads me to focus my question even more on Vermont records. Massachusetts records are very complete for the time and there is no indication her siblings were born there. New York state records on the other hand, are problematic, so they will have to wait for a while.

In this particular question, I ask why weren’t the parents in the records for Lydia’s potential birthplace? Were they there, just not recorded anywhere? These questions lead me to ask about the area where they may have been, to find out more about possible record sources. I also learn about the culture in that area, why the records may not exist, and what the economic conditions were during that period.

The process of crafting a specific question to be answered is key to great research. Answering the question is done during the research phase of the project. I’ll write more about the research project later this month.

Thoughts?

NPM

Sunday’s Obituary: Basil A. Malof, San Francisco, California

Rev. Malof, Author, Dies at 70

The Rev. Basil A. Malof, Baptist minister and author, died Thursday at the age of 70 in Herrick Memorial Hospital, Berkeley.

The Rev. Mr. Malof was born Basil A. Fetler in Riga, Latvia. He wrote under the name of Malof and had his name changed legally.

When a student he was exiled to Siberia for religious activities. Released, he attended Spurgeon College, a Baptist seminary in London.

From 1929 to 1939 he headed a large church in Riga. In the latter year he came to the United States and founded the Russian Bible Society in Washington, D. C. He was editor of “Russia Calling,” the society’s paper.

In addition to other books he was author of “Sentenced to Siberia,” an autobiography.

The Rev. Mr. Malof moved to Berkeley six months ago.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara, of 2442 Piedmont avenue, Berkeley, and 13 children: Daniel Fetler, New York City; Timothy Fetler, Fullerton; Lydia Hartsock, Silver Spring, Md.; Mary Miller, Mundelein, Ill.; Paul Fetler, Minneapolis; Philip Fetler, Riverside; John Fetler, Colorado Springs; Elizabeth Bregenzer, Arlington, Va.; Andrew Fetler, Chicago; David Fetler, Rochester, N.Y.; Peter Malof, Arlington, Va.; James Fetler, Sausalito; and Joseph Malof, Venice, Los Angeles county.

Funeral services were pending last night.

San Francisco Chronicle, 17 August 1957, Page 12, column 2.

5 Steps to Great Research

There are five related steps to take to get good results from your research. We create a specific question to be answered, a research plan using the question, a research log, and a research report. Optionally we create a biographical sketch from information in the research report.

Steps to Create a Research Question

First, we craft a question to answer. Use these four elements: who, where, when, and what, to focus on specific items that you want to learn more about. Being as specific as you can goes a long way toward getting reliable results from your research.

Steps to Create a Research Plan

Next, we examine the research question and gather more information about the subject we are interested in. We find sources relevant to the person, place, and time span involved. Sources such as locality guides, histories, and archives catalogs can provide good results for further searches.

Steps to Create a Research Log

After we have looked into each of the record types in the research plan, we can start actively searching for the best records available to us. We want to focus on relevant records that are likely to answer the research question. Prioritize the research items to gather information from the easiest to the hardest and organize your research plan accordingly.

Steps to Create a Research Report

When we have completely researched the question, we can then create the research report. I am a fan of the write as you cite method. This means when I am researching, I am also drafting parts of the research report. It is not a step back, but it is not a speedy process either. Take time to really look at the records and save time in the long run so you do not have to go back and revisit them.

Steps to Create a Biographical Sketch

The final element of great research is to make a biographical sketch. There are many ways to create a sketch. I have written a few posts about this topic, but one of the recommended ways is to use the NEHGS Register style. Whole books have been written about writing a family history sketch, so I will leave that choice to you.

Working Wednesday: Gigging at Fiverr

I just put up two gigs on Fiverr (see below) and so far, so good.

The vibe is like how GenLighten operated five years ago before it changed to a subscription model and shut down. There you were able to put up an offering for all to view and buy. At Fiverr you do the same in a comparable way.

The experience at Fiverr is much better, though, as you can see more stats about how well your offers are being received. You can also create links for marketing, which you could not easily do at GenLighten.

Right now, the competition in the Genealogy category seems all right. Most entries in the genealogy / family history section are good, and some not so much. I can’t comment on the quality of the deliverables, though, since I’m a seller, not a buyer.

Here are my two current gig listings:
Full-scale genealogy research
Obituary search

I am thinking about adding a third gig, for proofreading, editing, and writing family histories.

Thoughts?

NPM