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Organizing Facts

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#1 Beth Savage

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 01:27 PM

I'm working on residences for a person. He has lived in a half dozen places in one city over most of his life. Using the City Directories, I have probably 20 records of this. Since the Directories aren't done every year and since he doesn't always appear in them, it looks like this:

 

He lived in A for 1920, 1922, 1924, 1925.

He lived in B for 1928.

He lived in A for 1929. (This is almost certainly wrong since he was married and she disappears for this year only)

He lived in C according to 12 directories between 1932 and 1960, but doesn't appear in the 1950 one. 

 

Also, some of the City Directories are missing so I could potentially find them some day.

 

It feels like I should enter:

Residence 1920-1925 Address A. Sources are Directories for 1920, 1922, 1924, 1925

Residence 1928 Address B. Source is Directory for 1928.

Residence 1932-1960 Address C. Sources are the 12 directories mentioned above.

 

Separately, I also have:

Residence 1954-1979 Address C. Source is personal knowledge from my father and myself.

 

I could combine the two Address C entries together and put in notes.

 

Does this make sense? Do you try to have one fact and group the sources under it (so there's one entry for Address A, one for B, etc) or do you keep them all separate so you'd have 4 Facts of Residence A each with its one source, 1 for B, etc. The latter seems like it would be very confusing to deal with.

 

Also, what do you do if you think there's an error (like the one mentioned above or his absence in 1950 when I know he was there)? Do you do anything to acknowledge the error so the next person won't be surprised or confused by it? Put in a note about transposed numbers/words/etc?

 

Thanks for any suggestions,

Beth



#2 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 02:56 PM

He lived in A for 1929. (This is almost certainly wrong since he was married and she disappears for this year only)

 

 

I'm not addressing the main thrust of your question, but this particular item about an error caught my eye. I had similar issues about entries for my parents in city directories. After discussing it with them, I came to realize that often (but not always) the entries in city directories are a year in arrears. That is, the data might be collected in 1929 and published in the 1930 city directory. And the collection process might take place at different times during a year.

Also, I discovered that at least some city directory companies had two sources of data. One was a house to house canvas. The other was employment rolls from local employers. So the "sometimes a year in arrears" data problem can hit either source of data and sometimes both. Also, the exact name listed from the house to house canvas can differ from the name provided via employer rolls, so there can sometimes be duplication and/or inconsistency in the city directory data.

 

Jerry



#3 kbens0n

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 04:06 PM

 

I'm not addressing the main thrust of your question, but this particular item about an error caught my eye. I had similar issues about entries for my parents in city directories. After discussing it with them, I came to realize that often (but not always) the entries in city directories are a year in arrears. That is, the data might be collected in 1929 and published in the 1930 city directory. And the collection process might take place at different times during a year.

Also, I discovered that at least some city directory companies had two sources of data. One was a house to house canvas. The other was employment roles from local employers. So the "sometimes a year in arrears" data problem can hit either source of data and sometimes both. Also, the exact name listed from the house to house canvas can differ from the name provided via employer rolls, so there can sometimes be duplication and/or inconsistency in the city directory data.

 

Jerry

 

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#4 Beth Savage

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 05:10 PM

Jerry,

 

I read somewhere about it sometimes(?) being a house-to-house survey, so if someone wasn't home, they didn't get listed. That was probably the case one year that I know both people were living at that address. I also came across the street name being listed as one person's middle name, the street listed as beginning with a B instead of a V, and street numbers were transposed. They also started listing children at a certain point, but I'm not sure what that point was- and it doesn't seem to be consistent. I'm quickly losing faith in this source's reliability!

 

I'm also running into listings for a Thomas D. and a David T. - I'll have to compare other stuff to see if they're the same person. One (or both) was the subject's father. At one point, he owned a house on L St where the subject was living- and a few years earlier, the subject lived elsewhere on the same street (twice, actually). Maybe the subject lived in TD/DT's house the whole while, maybe DT is a relative of TD instead of his father (which also explains why the subject would live with him). It's confusing as heck. Right now, I'm just noting it all down and hoping to find something helpful somewhere down the line.

 

Thanks for the info!

Beth



#5 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 10:42 PM

Back to the main thrust of your question, I'm not really sure if there is a best way to enter city directory information. I basically just enter a City Directory fact for every year with a transcription of the very brief entry. Occasionally, I will add a note to the City Directory fact to clarify some issue of interest.

 

The City Directory fact is not a built-in fact type. It's one I have added. And indeed, I have a separate City Directory fact type for each year - like 1919 City Directory, 1920 City Directory, etc. And not unsurprisingly, my 1919 City Directory fact always has a date of 1919, my 1920 City Directory fact always has a date of 1920, etc.  :)  The reason for this curious way of adding fact types is due to some long standing limitations in RM's support of multiple facts of the same fact type. For example, searches don't work right for such situations, People View doesn't handle such situations, and that sort of thing. I started the practice of defining separate fact types for year for Census facts, and for the same reason. I then carried forward the same practice for my City Directory fact type. I'm hoping that RM8 will have some improvements that will make my practice of year by year fact types for Census and City Directory data unnecessary, but there is no indication so far that this will be the case.

Despite the limitations you mention where City Directory entries may be incomplete, unreliable, or just plain wrong, I think they often tell an interesting story. Well, a single City Directory entry often doesn't tell you very much. The real story emerges when you have City Directory entries for many years in a row. You can see where somebody worked over time, when they got a promotion, when they got a new job, where they lived over time, when they moved to a new house, etc. And as you say, you can often tell when young adults go to college, enter the workplace, and that sort of thing. Often you can tell if they moved out of their parents' house prior to their marriage, and often you can tell when young people moved from out in the country on the farm into the city. So it's a "big picture, tell a story over time" sort of thing more so than it is a single year sort of thing. And you often have to cross reference City Directory entries from several different family members to really tell a complete story.

 

Jerry

 



#6 Beth Savage

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 07:58 AM

Thanks for the info. I wasn't aware of those drawbacks. I need to re-think how I want to handle facts. Looking at the City Directory over time has already been interesting. I've already found some interesting bits and pieces and am looking forward to finding more!

 

Beth



#7 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 08:59 AM

I mentioned the limitations in RM's handling of multiple facts of the same type for the same person, but I didn't fully explain what those limitations are. You can certainly enter the data and it will print just fine in reports. But for example, suppose I want to find all the people in my database who were enumerated somewhere in Texas in the 1850 census. Or suppose I want to color code them or make a group of them.

 

I set up my search criteria as Census>Place>Contains>Texas AND Census>Date>Equals>1850. It does find everyone who was enumerated in Texas in the 1850 census. But it also finds people, for example, who were enumerated in the 1850 and 1860 census in Tennessee and who were enumerated in the 1870 census in Texas. That's not very helpful at all. In the case of People View, there is one row per person - period. So if Census Year and Census Place are two of my columns and if the same person was enumerated in the 1850, 1860, and 1870 censuses, then only one of those three facts appears in People View. For People View, you don't even get to see all the census entries, let alone filter by year and place for the same census entry.

My separate census facts for each census year mostly solves the problems with People View and with searches. The only exceptions are those few rare people who were enumerated twice in the same census year, usually weeks apart in separate locations. Census enumerators were supposed to detect those situations and avoid a double count, but I suspect they usually didn't. And actually, I find that people who were enumerated two times in the same year to provide wonderful insight into just how inaccurate census data could sometimes be. The same person could be John A. Doe age 11 in one enumeration and Andy Doe age 14 in the other enumeration in the same year, even though the full list of family members makes it clear it's the same family being enumerated a second time and even though I have a family bible that lists Andy's correct birth date and which lists his full name as John Andrew Doe.

 

Jerry

 



#8 John_of_Ross_County

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 03:31 PM

On the general subject of city directories and assuming that you are looking at on-line versions rather than printed copies in a library, try this.

 

1] Reset the page count to page #1.

2] Then page through the directory looking at the index, listings of public officials, schools, advertisements etc.  Some of these tidbits might be hard to find in an on-line search and probably don't have anything to do with your family.  But it describes the time frame when relatives lived.

3] The Chillicothe , OH, directory for the early 1900's has listings for each Post Office Rural Route with descriptive text for the roads traveled with mileage per segment, number of residents, and number of homes.  Many roads have different names today.  Many road segments have been legally closed.  They also list the name of the mail carrier and the total miles per route.  And the Post Office had Sunday hours!  So if you have old letters in envelopes, you can identify the name of the mail carrier.



#9 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 05:52 PM

A useful tidbit from some of the city directories I have looked at is a street by street and house by house list of residents.Typically, such a list is not indexed explicitly. Rather, if you find the person in the alphabetic list of names it will usually have their address. Then you can look that address in the street by street and house by house list and see things like neighbors.

 

Jerry







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