Genealogy is my passion. I gravitate to genealogy not only because of the enthusiasm generated when I uncover lineages and more family members, but also because my research opens doors to the social, political, economic, and cultural events experienced by my ancestors, sparking a desire to learn more about these specific historical events. My spouse of over 30 years, Mitchell Block, comes from a New York City Jewish family, steeped in the traditions of the urban East Coast and in Jewish religion and customs. I come from South Dakota, raised Lutheran, surrounded by rural, pioneer-influenced Norwegian, German, and English traditions. Our family backgrounds couldn't be further apart and yet we've blended in wonderful ways and cherish our differences.
All of us contain
genetic fragments from our ancestors who preceded us. Our families influence us dramatically and can actively mold and shape the individuals we become.
So, the connected bloodlines documented in these pages are a reflection of who we are, what we were, and from where we came. Enjoy the connections.
1.0 Database Updates and Changes
The backbone for "Connectedbloodlines.com" is a database of information for almost 20,000 individuals, made available via the Web using The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (TNG) software. I serve as the web master for this website. The ConnectedBloodlines database is updated regularly by importing gedcom files from Reunion software on my home Mac computer.
Given the my Reunion database serves as my database of recore, I do not permit other individuals to make changes to information in ConnectedBloodlines. If you have additional information that you would like to see added or corrections that you would like to make, please contact me via the website. I will then update both ConnectedBloodlines and my home Reunion database.
The genealogical community has long debated the issue of privacy and the amount of information that should be made publicly-accessible via online means for individuals who are still living. Privacy expectations and legislation vary considerably from country to country. An amazing amount of online and in-print information is already available for individuals who are still living. I have mined such informtion continuously to pull together the information that is contained in my genealogy database. Obituaries, if found, routinely list the names of survivors. Public records exist nationwide containing names, addresses, and telephone numbers. Birth, marriage, military enlistment, and draft registration records may contain birthdates. A wide range of miscellaneous documents available on the Internet can also provide what many view as sensitive data that should not be provided via genealogical websites for individuals who are still living.
I have attempted to institute the following privacy policies for Connected Bloodlines:
a. Individuals lacking a death date and born after 1910 are presumed to be living.
b. For all individuals presumed to be living, the only information about that individual that will be displayed without a user signon will be the full name.
c. Family members may register and receive permission to have access to all data available for any individual who is living. Exceptions to this policy may be requested by contacting me. I will then make a determination, on a case-by-case basis, whether to provide access or not.
d. If any living individual wishes to not have their name appear in Connected Bloodlines, please contact me and I will make the necessary changes so that your name will not be displayed.>
2.0 Source Citations
When I first started building my database in the early 1990s, I had little appreciation for the importance of maintaining an accurate system to document the source for the form of name and for birth and deaths for individuals, as I continuously added names to my database. Instead, I simply added these pieces of information as I encountered them. When finding records contained in other publicly-accessible databases, I simply copied all or portions of this relevant primary source data into the Notes field, indicating the source of the record as part of the Notes statement. I did use Reunion's source feature for all oral history materials that I generated during my research. As I watched my database grow, I began to appreciate the importance of clearly documenting the source for every bit of information and began to use the source features in Reunion more consistently, but by that time, it was too late for me to attempt to go back through the thousands of records that were already in existence and edit them appropriately. Therefore, at this time, the information in the Notes fields contains the only source data that I have. I do not have any additional information that I can provide to anyone regarding the source(s) I used for establishing the form of name, birth, and/or death dates.
3.0 Standards for Names
Within Reunion, I have developed two different style sheets for recording name data, one for personal names and one for geographic names.
3.1 Naming Conventions for Individuals
I have adopted the following style sheet for my use of the Reunion data structure for names:
PREFIX: Include titles that always appear in front of the name: Capt., Rev., Lieut., etc. I do not include Dr. or Esq. nor do I include any titles for royalty in a prefix. TNG displays prefixes as the initial part of a first name; they do not need to be used for searching.
FIRST NAME: Used for first and middle names of an individual, when this individual has last name; the name only, if there is only one name without a last name. Numbering for royalty is included as part of the first name, e.g., Hugues II. If an individual only is known by a first name, that name will appear as a first name and the last name will be blank. Use original language for the first name given first. I list the first name in its original language first. If desired or needed, I include the Anglicized spelling following any original language first name: e.g., "Guillaume or William."
LAST NAME: Actual last name. For early royalty and nobility, when only one name was used, leave "Last Name" blank and put name in "First Name" field. Consider as last name any patronymic, e.g. names preceded by AP, FERCH, or FITZ or followed by names ending with --SON, --SEN, --SSEN, SSON, or --DTR. Use patronymic abbreviation, e.g., "dtr" rather than "datter". If there is expected to be a last name but it is not known, use "?" in the Last Name field. Norwegian farm names, if needed for identification, are added in the last name field following the patronymic, e.g. "Olsen Presthaug" where "Presthaug" is the farm name.
SUFFIX: Include royalty titles and any phrases denoting geographical location of person, e.g., "de Hereford" or "King of England." Use original language when known, e.g. "Comte." Note that it is sometimes difficult to determine when a geographic suffix title begins to be used as the "official surname."
3.2 Challenges Associated with Naming Conventions
The formatting of personal names is especially problematic in three areas: a) names of royalty and nobility in medieval times, b) naming formats and the spelling of names in Norway before surnames were mandated by the Norwegian government, and c) naming formats and the spelling of names for Jews in eastern Europe and Russia.
Royalty and Nobility in Medieval Times
It is sometimes quite difficult to search for names from the medieval era. Some databases use versions of a name based on its spelling in the native geographic area. Information can then be missed, if one uses an Anglicized search term. This challenge is especially apparent when working with Norman family names after these families relocated to England. For example, when does "Guillaume" become "William"?
Many times, an individual's name was changed when that person was crowned as a member of the royal family. Sometimes, one individual might have two different names with differing number schemes, if more than one political entity is being governed by the same individual.
Sometimes, there are numerous versions of names for one individual given the variations found among primary sources. I have attempted to follow the naming conventions used by the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy when entering medieval names into my Reunion database.
Nowegian Naming Conventions
Until the early 1900s, Norwegians, especially those living in rural areas, did not use consistent surnames. Patronymics were usually employed, followed by the farm name where an individual lived and/or worked. Sometimes the farm name was used as the surname, without use of a patronymic. When rural Norwegians moved from one farm to another, their "last name" usually changed to reflect the new farm location. More than one farm name may be used for a Norwegian last name. When multiple farm names appear, they should be listed from earliest to latest, i.e., the first farm name covers the location of birth and the last farm name will be the name of the farm where the individual died.
Given the naming conventions in place during the 1700-1900s, it was very common for a son to bear the first name of his father, which would then mean that the first name and patronymic were the same for more than one individual. After working with sixteen different "Ole Olesons" from one family line, one appreciates the availability of a farm name or relatively accurate birth and death data to distinguish one Ole Oleson from another. If a farm name was needed to clearly identify a specific individual, I have included that farm name as part of the surname, listing it after the patronymic. In 1923, the Norwegian government mandated that each family should have a hereditary last name and only one last name would be used consistently, ignoring patronymics and changes in farm location.
Naming Issues for Jews from Eastern Europe and Russia
In the area now known as Poland, civil registration for Jewish births, marriages, and deaths began in 1808, following Napoleonic record formats. The data was written in Polish and registration data for all religions, including Jewish, were registered in the Roman Catholic civil registers maintained by the Roman Catholic church. In 1815, the Kingdom of Poland was formed from the former Duchy of Warsaw. In 1821 Polish Jews were required to take surnames. In 1826, separate civil registers began for each religious community; therefore, separate Jewish registers began in 1826. From 1826 to 1867, these Jewish records were written in Polish, using the extended Roman alphabet. From 1868 to 1917, the Jewish civil registrations were written in Russian using the Cyrillic alphabet. From 1918 on, the records were again written in Polish. Given the differences that can arise when one transliterates a name from a Cyrillic alphabet to a Roman alphabet form, since different transliteration schemes exist, variations in the spelling of a last name can occur. In addition, the use of Yiddish or Hebrew names adds more confusion, given the various forms of a name that a specific Jewish individual may have. Finally, as Jews immigrated to the U.S., they usually dropped the Yiddish forms of their given name and used Anglicized names, e.g. "Rochla" becomes "Rose"; "Shlomo" becomes "Sol". Sometimes, these Anglicized versions of names bear no similarity to the Yiddish forms of the name, e.g., "Chaim" becoming "Herman." There is also considerable variation in the spelling of surnames, regardless of issues surrounding the use of Polish or Russian. For example, I have uncovered eleven different spelling variations used by various family members in spelling their last name of "Balowitz."
3.3 Geographic Naming Conventions
a. For all U.S. place names: I have recorded geographic names in the following order: Town, County, State, USA, e.g., Sioux Falls, Minnehaha, South Dakota, USA. If a town name is unknown or does not exist, I will attempt to identify the relevant township within county, if possible. If I am able to locate a township, then these types of geographic names are recorded as Township, County Name, State, and USA, e.g., Wall Lake Township, Minnehaha, South Dakota, USA. If there is no known township, then the geographic form of the name would be: Minnehaha Co., South Dakota, USA. If neither town or county is known, then the name of the state is used, South Dakota, USA.
b. Methods for handling the political entity called "County" in the U.S.: There are several situations occurring in the United States that cause problems with the routine standard of Town, County, State, USA: