Review: J. Horace Round’s Family Origins and other Studies

 

I’ve been reading Family Origins, by J. Horace Round.[1] It is an interesting book, not only because it discusses an area of genealogy which I’m interested in learning more about. It has an interesting introduction about “historical genealogy,” a subject that has gotten a lot of press recently as “historical biography.”

Mr. Round (1854–1928), an Englishman, was a prolific author of texts on early British genealogies, focusing primarily in Family Origins on those ranging back to Norman times and the conquest of England by William the Conqueror. In this particular introduction, Round describes a “new” school of genealogists who take pride in sourcing their research and citing it. He also discusses the historical bases for genealogical research in England, with passing reference to American genealogy. These discussions pre-date even Donald Lines Jacobus, the premiere American genealogist of the 20th century.

Family Origins dissects, deconstructs, and straightens out various pedigrees going back to Norman and medieval times. Knowledge of archaic Latin and French may be helpful in reading some of the quoted passages, however; but due to Round’s explication of the texts, it may also be unnecessary.

The text goes into some detail on the importance of not only names, but also places. The importance of place in historical genealogy, as Mr. Round practiced it is that one must know the place where the name originated, as it was often taken from the place where the people lived. In the case of the peerages Mr. Round discusses, these places are sometimes in Normandy, part of the France of the time, on which he focuses much of his research.

An example of Mr. Round’s diligence in the study of genealogy is the following quote from page 107:

“It is … of real importance for the critical study of genealogy, to collect and set on record, cases in which evidence has been forged or falsely alleged to exist, for the purpose of affording proof of a wholly fictitious pedigree.”

The statement here quoted pre-dates even E. S. Mills and the Genealogical Proof Standard as goals against which we work. It goes directly to the goals of the Board for Certification of Genealogists’ ethics, which it also pre-dates.

Round seems to take delight in demolishing various pedigrees found in the Burke peerages and their brethren. He also takes on other genealogists’ work and dissects them live, in front of the reader as if he were there discussing them with you. That is the kind of genealogical writing I like at the moment. This book makes good bed-time reading, so the lessons can sink in and be absorbed.

1. Round, J. Horace. Family Origins and other Studies. London, 1930. Reprint Baltimore, Md.: Clearfield Company, 1998.

 

Haven Genealogy Available on Lulu.com

Here is the link to the Haven genealogy on Lulu.com.

I’m removing the link in the below article as the for-sale and only available version is corrected and the free version wasn’t.

Thanks!

NPM

Note: Diana James’ Shared Walls

Diana James just published Shared Walls: Seattle Apartment Buildings, 1900-1939, a history of apartment dwelling in Seattle during the years listed in the title.

This is (an as yet unseen) welcome addition to the house history field as it expands on the regular house history field of research.

Two articles in the Seattle Times give you more of a preview than I can. Here they are:

A book review of Shared Walls

A “Now and Then” installment which mentions Shared Walls.

Only 2,000 copies have been printed, according to one of the pieces, and I’m sure they’ll go fast. Shared Walls is available at Amazon.com.

NPM

Review: Supplement to How to Write a Family History

Charles Darwin. 1 negative : glass ; 5 x 7 in....

A Supplement to How to Write the History of a Family: A Guide for the Genealogist. By W.P.W. Phillimore. London: the Author. 1896.

This is a continuation, pagination, included, of two previous editions of the volume. The author had decided to revise the earlier editions, but due to some inspiration, made a supplement to the second edition, instead. The chapters in the earlier volumes are referenced in this supplement, but due to the lack of the earlier edition online or in a library nearby, I can’t say how well linked they are.

Mr. Phillimore is perhaps better known as the publisher of many compilations of parish records, marriage, death, and birth, for various parts of England. These compilations, many of which are also available online now, are valuable resources. The presence online of the previous editions of this book would be more greatly appreciated, since the chapters and sections lack continuity in many cases.

There are numerous additions to the lists of records to be consulted by a genealogist. Some of these records perhaps don’t exist anymore due to age and the vagaries of time and war, but are valuable references to things that people used in their own studies. Some of the more interesting bits from other studies, such as biological science and law might also be helpful to serious researchers in other fields.

The notes on anthropometry are interesting as they formed the basis in later years for the study of eugenics, a practice used for racial and ethnic discrimination. The biological aspect of the study is Darwinian or Malthusian and reminds me of the study of peas in grade school. 🙂 The previous editions must have included much more of the same or more along these lines as Charles Darwin’s theories were published about the same time as they were.

They typography for the volume is interesting. It includes several “swashes” and ligatures to characters which add a dimension to what might seem to be an ordinarily boring old book. The typeface seems to be a form of Bembo, a classic typeface for scholarly work. It is an easily read face which adds character.

Due to the age of the writing and the content, with all of its period biases and knowledge gained to date by the author, the book has a sort of quaint feel to it. The additions to the pages seem like marginalia, but are meant to be addenda, much the same as notes made by a student continuing their study by writing in the book itself. (Personally an unwelcome practice, as it will reduce the book’s resale value.)

The lessons learned and the knowledge one will gain from having this unique perspective is invaluable, however. Knowing what records existed at the time and how they were used will give you a keener insight into the published genealogies from years past.

This book is freely available on Google Books.

© 2012 N. P. Maling — Sea Genes – Family History & Genealogy Research

On Indexing

I am currently preparing an index for a family history. The index will include places as well as people. A town, county, and state name index is important to family histories. The reason for including place names in the index is to allow the reader to follow a larger family group on its migrations to various places.

In another family history, covering colonial and federal period Massachusetts, the family consistently expanded outwards to New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and New York, making the project that much larger. By including these items in the index, the reader can follow a particular branch of the family in its outward peregrinations.

Sometimes, if the family history is large enough, or complex enough, separate indexes might work better to allow for quick finding in the text. You might want to consider having the primary family in its own index, everyone else related to the primary family in a general index, and place names in a third, or subject index.

A subject index in a family history would include topics such as farming, occupations, the names of prominent universities the family members have graduated from, and other such matters. One of my current indexing projects includes references to about a dozen universities and several dozen more graduates of those universities. As is a major feature of the family history, it is imperative that they be indexed; perhaps names of graduates under the university heading, or perhaps just the universities referenced where they occur in the text. It is a judgment call whether to index the graduates and universities together.

The level of detail in a surname index can be important, especially with larger family histories. People oftentimes name their sons and daughters after other members of the family. For instance, a son would be named after one of his grandfathers. This pattern can continue for generations. In the index, one would ideally include the birth and death years, as well as at least the middle initial, if not the full middle name, of each member of the family with the same given name.

NPM

© 2012 N. P. Maling — Sea Genes – Family History & Genealogy Research

This post originally appeared on the defunct Seattle Book Scouts’ Blog in 2009.

T4G: Punctuation and Text Formatting

Hyphens are punctuation, a part of the text; en and em dashes are not, they are formatting marks. I’ll talk a little about the differences and genealogical applications of each. A brief resources section to highlight significant sources used in this article is also given.

The hyphen, en, and em dashes discussed here are part of the standard font package. The hyphen is in the Basic Latin section and the other two are found in the General Punctuation part of the font’s special characters listings.

Punctuation and Text Formatting

Hyphens

Hyphens are punctuation, a part of the text. In the old days of the typewriter and early days of the computer, hyphens were doubled and tripled to substitute for dashes. This is unnecessary now as we have proper dashes available. The hyphen is also distinct from a minus sign, but mathematical expressions occur only rarely in our type of writing.

En Dash

En dashes are what Bringhurst (see resources section) calls analphabetic characters. His thought about the handling of them is different from traditional usage. The differences he considers significant take into account more languages than English, which most fonts are designed for.

In genealogical writing, the en dash is the strongest visual indicator for date ranges. En dashes are meant to separate the two ends of a range such as 1582–1752. Some textual terms can also benefit from its use. En dashes emphasize a separation between a prefix and a word in a compound term such as post–1945, or pre–marriage.

Em Dash

Em dashes separate thoughts. They represent missing data in some cases as in unknown surnames (—?—).

In terms of formatting, there are several micro-stylistic thoughts to consider. One is how much spacing there should be around the em dash.

Bringhurst would have us use spaces around the en dash as an alternative to the (subjectively) lengthy em dash as in “… – …”. Doing this would lead to putting a non-breaking space between the last characters before the en dash to keep the two together, possibly affecting a text’s justification.

One of the faults with Times New Roman is that the em dash is too long. Most professionally designed fonts compensate for the length of the em dash by making the capital M a more realistic width. Times New Roman was designed for a specific purpose: newspapers, and should only be used by that type of publication. Linux Libertine, on the other hand, was designed for more common publications such as this one, and books, so its readability is greater.

Illustration: Linux Libertine and Times New Roman em dashes

Illustration: Linux Libertine and Times New Roman em dashes

Hatcher, and Leclerc and Hoff (see resource section for both), differ on whether there should be spaces around an em dash in text. I would prefer the latter, and include the spaces. Doing this also requires that you pay attention to justification and word breaks at the beginning, so the dash doesn’t sit by itself at the beginning of a line.

My own thought on doubling or tripling the em dash for missing names is that it’s unnecessary. A triple dash, or in Unicode terminology a “horizontal bar” (―) can stand in. It is shorter, and more representative of the strong emphasis necessary. I prefer to denote missing data with just an em dash or as (—?—) [opening parenthesis em dash question mark em dash closing parenthesis].

Dumb and Curly Quotes, Redux

Using real quotes (curly “ / ”) raises the tone of what we read. It’s also what we’re most brought up to see in printed published materials. Online it’s another matter, though, since most early computer systems couldn’t handle curly quotes and kept the dumb quote from the teletype repertoire.

Resources

The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed., Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographical Style, version 3.2, Point Roberts, Washington: Hartley & Marks, Publishers, 2008. See in particular chapter 5 “Analphabetic Characters.” on punctuation and textual markup.

Patricia Law Hatcher, Producing a Quality Family History, Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry, Inc., 1996.

John D. Lamb, Notes on OpenOffice Writer: Large and Complex Documents, n. p.: n. pub., 2009. Available online at the author’s home page. See in particular Chapter 2 “Characters, Fonts and Highlighting,” on the details of the characters and their handling.

Michael J. Leclerc and Henry B. Hoff, eds., Genealogical Writing in the 21st Century, Boston, Massachusetts: NEHGS, 2006.

Peter Wilson, A Few Notes on Book Design. Normandy Park, Washington: The Herries Press, 2009. Available online at the LaTeX archives . See in particular, chapter 5 “Picky Points,” on punctuation and textual markup.

© N. P. Maling — Sea Genes – Family History & Genealogy Research

White Center News Extracts Available on CreateSpace/Amazon

Hi,

The White Center News Extracts volume is now available for purchase on CreateSpace.com and soon (5–7 days) on Amazon.com.

More information about WCN Extracts is available on this site on its own page.

Thanks,

NPM