20 September 2016

Tombstone Tuesday: Joseph and Esther Rothman, Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY

There appear to have been two Joseph Rothman's associated with the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association landsmanshaft. The one in this post was the younger one. He was born about 1878 and was married to and raised a family with Esther. The other Joseph Rothman (who I will chronicle in a post in the future) was born about 1861, was married to Goldie and had no children. Both were glaziers in New York City. 


Here lies
Gershon son of Levi Yitzchak
Died 11 Shevat 5703
May his soul be bound in the bonds of the living
----------
JOE ROTHMAN
AGE 64 YEARS
IN OUR HEARTS
YOU LIVE FOREVER

Joe Rothman was born Gershon Chajtmann in Labun to Levi Yitzchak Chajtman. I do not know his mother's name. He married Ester Potashnik in Labun in about 1902. They had five children: Ruchla, Ides, Sara, Berko and Jankiel.[1]

In March 1913, Gershon left Bremen for New York City aboard the S.S. Brandenburg. He landed in New York on 27 March 1913.[2] The manifest listed his occupation as trader.

World War I and the Russian Revolution likely delayed the family's emigration. In June 1921, Ester and four of her children traveled from Antwerp to Philadelphia on the S.S. Samland.[3] The Chajtman's eldest child, Ruchla, followed from Antwerp in October.[4]

Here lies
Ester daughter of Moshe
----------
BELOVED MOTHER
ESTHER
ROTHMAN
DIED JAN. 28, 1953
AGE 67 YEARS

I have been unable to locate Joe in records created prior to the arrival of his family. But, at Ester and the children's arrival in the USA, Joe was living at 244 Clinton Street, New York, New York. When Ruchla arrived but a few months later, the family was at 101 Norfolk Street.[5]

In census enumerations in 1925 and 1930, the family was still on Clinton Street, but had moved to 14 Clinton.[6] In 1925, Joe was listed as a presser of suits. In 1930 and 1940, he was in the glass business.[7] The 1940 census records the Joe, Esther, Benjamin and Sarah at 50-52 East 3rd Street, New York, New York.

Eldest daughter, Rose, married Harry Openden on 1 June 1931.[8] Ida married Henry Zap on 11 June 1935.[9] Jacob and Helen Panzer married on 13 October 1936.[10] Thus far, no marriage records have been located for Benjamin and Sarah.


Google maps, 2016
Joe died on 17 January 1943 after being hit by a truck the day before.[11] He died at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan . His doctor reported he had a fractured skull and lacerations of the brain. In addition, he had fractured ribs, right tibia and fibula and was in shock. The medical examiner reported that he'd been hit by the truck at the corner of 1st Avenue and 2nd Street. This was just around the corner from his home at 52 East 3rd Street.

It appears that Esther had at least one brother in New York City. Her husband listed his brother-in-law M. "Potashik" at 72-4 Broome Street, New York, NY.[12]

Joe Rothman is buried in block 5, gate 567W, line 1R, grave 6 and Esther is interred in line 2L, grave 1, First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plot, Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, New York.

Notes:
1. Esther Rothman, naturalization file 414883 (1942), Southern District of New York; "New York, Naturalization Records, 1882-1944," images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 September 2016); Records of the District Court of the United States; National Archives - Northeast Region, New York City, microfilm publication M1972, roll 1401.
2. Manifest, S.S. Brandenburg, March 1913, list 37, lines 26, Gershon Chajtmann, age 35; images, "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 April 2011).
3. Manifest, S.S. Samland, June 1921, list 50, lines 22-26, Ester Chajtman (age 35), Ides (15), Sara (13), Berko (11) and Jankiel (7); images, "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 April 2011).
4. Manifest, S.S. Finland, November 1921, list 3, line 30, Ruchla Chajtman, age 17; images, "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 April 2011). 
5. Manifest, S.S. Finland, Record of Detained Aliens, 7 November 1921, list 173 (stamped), line 96, Ruchla Chajtman; images, "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 April 2011).
6. 1925 New York State census, New York County, New York, enumeration of inhabitants, Manhattan, election district 20, assembly district 4, page 32, Joseph and Esther Rottman family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 September 2016).
  1930 US Census, New York County, New York, population schedule, Manhattan, enumeration district 31-132, sheet 6A, dwelling 22, family 152, Joe and Esther Rothman family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 November 2010).
7. 1940 US Census, New York County, New York, population schedule, Manhattan, enumeration district 31-690, sheet 9A, household 281, Joseph and Esther Rothman family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 March 2016).
8. New York County, New York, marriage certificate no. 11426 (1931), Harry Openden and Rose Rothman, 1 June 1931; Municipal Archives, New York City.
9. Bronx County, New York, marriage certificate no. 5039 (1935), Henry Zap and Ida Rothman, 11 June 1935; Municipal Archives, New York City.
10. New York County, New York, marriage certificate no. 26453 (1936), Jacob Rothman and Helen Panzer, 13 October 1936; Municipal Archives, New York City.
11. New York County, New York, death certificate no. 1481 (1943), Joseph Rothman, 17 January 1943; Municipal Archives, New York City.
12. Manifest, S.S. Brandenburg, March 1913, list 37, lines 26, Gershon Chajtmann, age 35.

13 September 2016

Tombstone Tuesday: Samuel and Clara Shlionsky, Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY

I have not been able to determine why Samuel and Clara Shlionsky came to be affiliated with the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association (FLPBA) and buried in one of the FLPBA's plots in Montefiore Cemetery. The information I have seen, thus far, indicates that they were not from Labun (or Lubin in Yiddish), but from Odessa. In most other cases, I have been able to determine links to Lubiners. These two remain mysteries.

BORN                 DIED
DEC. 23              JAN. 13
1878                  1930


DEDICATED
TO THE MEMORY OF
SAMUEL SHLIONSKY
Yechiel son of Yitzchak Shlionsky
May his soul be bound in the bonds of the living
BY HIS LOVING WIFE
AND CHILDREN

Samuel was born, according to his gravestone, on 23 December 1878. His father was Yitzchak and his mother was Rose Axel.[1] 

Clara was born on 10 January 1881 to Nissen (as indicated both on her gravestone and her passenger manifest).[2] I do not know her mother's name. However, her brother, Simon Levitan, was recorded living with the family in New York in the 1910 and 1930 census records. His WWI and WWII draft registration cards and his naturalization papers and passenger manifest also indicate birth in Odessa.

Here lies
Chava daughter of Nissen
CLARA
SHLIONSKY
BELOVED MOTHER
GRANDMOTHER
GREAT GRANDMOTHER
JAN. 10, 1881 - MAR. 26, 1967

Samuel and Clara were married about 1902 in the Russian Empire.[3] They had their first two children, Herman and Esther, there. 

In 1906, Ichiel traveled to Grimsby, UK and, then, on to Liverpool where he boarded the S.S. Celtic for New York. He arrived on 30 September 1906.[4]

Clara and the children followed, landing in New York on 9 September 1908.[2] Samuel and Clara had their third child, Rose, in New York City in about 1911.[5]
The 1910 census enumeration and Samuel's Word War I Draft Registration Card indicate that he was a painter and store owner.[6] But, Samuel's real career was in real estate development. Several newspaper articles indicate that Samuel invested in several apartment buildings. In 1927, the bottom fell out.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle fairly shouted the headline on page 1: "Real Estate Worth $6,000,000 Involved in Bankruptcy Suit. Creditors Press $500,000 Claims Against Shlionsky Apartment Projects."[7] 

Samuel's death certificate tells the rest of the tale.[1] He died on 13 January 1930 at his home at 84 West 174th Street in the Bronx. The cause? It was certified by the Medical Examiner: "Asphyxia." He'd turned on the gas. Suicide.

He was buried the next day in Montefiore Cemetery: block 5, gate 567W, line 1R, grave 1. If allowed, suicides are sometimes buried in the back of plots. This may be the case here. At Montefiore, row numbering starts at the back.

Clara and the children continued to live with her brother Simon Levitan in the Bronx. Son Herman became a doctor and practiced psychiatry in New Jersey. His obituary in 1966 indicated that his sisters had married and become Esther Silverman and Rose Sack.[8]

Clara died in March 1967 in Pennsylvania.[9] She is buried in
block 5, gate 567W, line 3L, grave 3.



Notes:
1. Bronx County, New York, death certificate no. 405 (1930), Samuel Shlionsky, 13 January 1930; Municipal Archives, New York City.
2. Manifest, S.S. Russia, September 1908, list 11, lines 21-23, Clara, Irmja, and Esters Schlionsky, age 28, 4 and 3; images, "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 September 2016).
3. 1910 U.S. Census, New York County, New York, population schedule, Manhattan, enumeration district 952, sheet 5B, dwelling 17, family 103, Samuel and Clara Schlionsky; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2011).
4. Manifest, S.S. Celtic, September 1906, list 11, line 1, Ichiel Schlinsky, age 28; images, "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 September 2016).
5. 1930 U.S. Census, Bronx Co., NY, pop. sched., Bronx, E.D. 3-168, sheet 5B, dwell. 32, fam. 118, Clara Shlionsky family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 November 2010).
6. "World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 November 2010), card for Samuel Shlionsky, no. 2729, Bronx, New York City Draft Board 14; NARA microfilm publication M1509.
7. "Real Estate Worth $6,000,000 Involved in Bankruptcy Suit," Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY), 4 January 1927, p. 1, col. 4; image, Fulton History (http://www.fultonhistory.com : accessed 11 September 2016).
8. "Herman Shlionsky, A Psychiatrist, 62," New York Times (New York, NY), 3 June 1966, p. 38, col. 3; images, New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com : accessed 11 September 2016). 
9. "U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014," database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 September 2016); entry for Clara Shlionsky, March 1967.

06 September 2016

Tombstone Tuesday: Rose Schultz, Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY

Reisel daughter of Mosche
ROSE SCHULTZ
BELOVED WIFE
MOTHER - GRANDMOTHER
MAR. 27, 1895 - APRIL 27, 1962
FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS 

While Rose Schultz and her husband Meyer Schultz were fairly well documented after their marriage in 1917, I have not been able to find much about Rose Schultz before she married.[1] I also have not located her naturalization papers online nor death records beyond her gravestone.

According to her 1917 marriage certificate, Rose lived at 224 Cherry Street and her parents were Morris and Tilly Lechter Hall. 224 Cherry Street would have been on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I have not located earlier census records for the Morris Hall family. 

The 1920 and 1930 census enumerations indicate Rose arrived in the United States in about 1912.[2] But, while Meyer naturalized in 1928, there is no indicated that Rose did so until the 1940 census - when she was identified as naturalized.[3]

The couple's marriage certificate also notes that Rose was born in Poltava, Russia. Meyer's naturalization in 1928 indicated that Rose was born on 28 March 1895.[4] Her gravestone shows a birth date a day earlier.

For further information about Rose, see my post on Meyer's grave

Rose Schultz's grave is next to her husband Meyer's in Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, New York, First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plot, block 89, gate 156N, line 10R, grave 4.

Notes:
1. Bronx County, New York, marriage certificate no. 789 (1917), Meyer Shkaltz and Rosie Hall, 17 February 1917; Municipal Archives, New York City.
2.  1920 U.S. Census, New York County, New York, population schedule, Manhattan, enumeration district 14,  sheet 9A, dwelling 143, family 143, Meyer and Rose Schultz family; image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 November 2010).
  1925 New York State Census, Kings County, New York, enumeration of inhabitants, Brooklyn, election district 61, assembly district 2, p. 16, Morris and Rose Schultz family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 July 2014); citing New York State Archives, Albany.
  1930 U.S. Census, Kings County, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district 24-1234, sheet 15A, dwelling 111, family 430, Meyer and Rose Schultz family; image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 November 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1493. 
3. 1940 U.S. Census, Bronx County, population schedule, Bronx, enumeration district 3-955, sheet 10A, household 161, Meyer and Rose Schultz family; image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 July 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 2485.
4. Meyer Schultz, naturalization file 61152 (1928), volume 327, Eastern District of New York; "Selected U.S. Naturalization Records - Original Documents, 1790-1974," images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 December 2010); Records of the District Court of the United States; National Archives - Northeast Region, New York City.

30 August 2016

Tombstone Tuesday: Meyer Schultz, Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY

This post will continue my review of people buried in the three First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plots in New York City. This landsmanshaften group was associated with the town of Labun (Lubin in Yiddish), which was in Zaslav Uyezd, Volhynia Gubernia, Russian Empire when most of these immigrant families left eastern Europe prior to the First World War.

[Hebrew inscription not visible]
MEYER SCHULTZ
BELOVED HUSBAND
FATHER - GRANDFATHER
MAR. 20, 1894 - JAN. 27, 1965
FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS 
 
I have previously mentioned Meyer Schultz and his family here and here when reviewing the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association (FLPBA) anniversary publications. Meyer stayed with his townsmen even in death and is buried in one of the FLPBA plots in Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, New York.

Thick vegetation had grown over the top of this marker and, unfortunately, I was unable to record the Hebrew names likely present under the bush. However, Meyer's marriage certificate documenting his marriage to Rose Hall on 17 February 1917 indicated his father's name (likely Anglicized) as Isidor and his mother's maiden surname as Schechter.[1]

Meyer consistently reported his birth date as 20 March 1894 on his World War I and World War II draft registrations and on his naturalization papers.[2] 

Meyer immigrated from the port at Rotterdam on 21 June 1913 and disembarked at Ellis Island on 3 July.[3] He sailed as Meier Skaltz on the S.S. Potsdam by himself at the age of 19, leaving his father Itsik in Labun. His occupation was listed on the passenger manifest as salesman and he reported he was heading to his cousin "B. Molthman, 118 W. Third Street, NY." 

B. Molthman was Benjamin Molthman who had immigrated as Berl Malzmann. He was also from Labun and likely related to my Myers relatives who had changed their surname from Malzmann, as well. Benjamin, like so many other Lubiners became a glazier in New York City. In fact, 118 W. Third was also the location of Morris and Molthman Glass, where Benjamin and my great grandfather, Isadore Morris, were partners (Isadore was married to my great grandmother, the former Sarah Malzmann).

Meyer Schultz also became a glazier. He married Rose Hall in 1917 when they lived on Cherry Street on the Lower east Side of Manhattan: first, at 224 Cherry Street and by June 1917 and into 1920, at 320 Cherry Street.[4] He was working in someone else's glass shop.

By 1925 he had his own shop at 184 West End Avenue and lived at 2130 East 13th Street, Brooklyn.[5]

Meyer, Rose and their three girls lived at 501 East 93rd Street, Brooklyn at the time of the 1930 U.S. Census.[6]

By the April enumeration for the 1940 census, they were ar 1210 Elden Avenue in the Bronx.[7] Just two years later, they had moved to 1483 Longfellow Avenue in the Bronx.[8]

Rose predeceased Meyer on 27 April 1962.

They had three daughters who lived to adulthood: 
Ethel Berger (16 November 1917-May 1995)
Lillian Horodner (27 March 1919-7 January 2001)
Mae Sussman (30 May 1925-26 July 2001)
Meyer is buried in Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, New York, block 89, gate 156N, line 10R, grave 3.
 
Notes:
1. Bronx County, New York, marriage certificate no. 789 (1917), Meyer Shkaltz and Rosie Hall, 17 February 1917; Municipal Archives, New York City.
2. "U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : 9 April 2015), card for Meyer Schultz, no. 460, New York City draft board 093; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509.
  "U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards," images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : 19 December 2010), card for Meyer Schultz, no. 2182, Bronx, New York; citing NARA Record Group 147, Records of the Selective Service, Fourth Registration.
  Meyer Schultz, naturalization file 61152 (1928), volume 327, Eastern District of New York; "Selected U.S. Naturalization Records - Original Documents, 1790-1974," images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 December 2010); Records of the District Court of the United States; National Archives - Northeast Region, New York City.
3. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 December 2010), manifest, S.S. Potsdam, Rotterdam to New York, arriving 3 July 1913, list 36, line 9, Meier Skaltz; citing NARA microfilm publication T715, roll 2121. 
4. Bronx County, New York, marriage certificate no. 789 (1917), Meyer Shkaltz and Rosie Hall, 17 February 1917; Municipal Archives, New York City. 
  "U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : 9 April 2015), card for Meyer Schultz. 
  1920 U.S. Census, New York County, New York, population schedule, Manhattan, enumeration district 14,  sheet 9A, dwelling 143, family 143, Meyer and Rose Schultz family; image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 November 2010).
5. 1925 New York City Directory, p. 2620, entry for Meyer Schultz under "Glaziers;" image, "U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 October 2011).
  1925 New York State Census, Kings County, New York, enumeration of inhabitants, Brooklyn, election district 61, assembly district 2, p. 16, Morris and Rose Schultz family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 July 2014); citing New York State Archives, Albany.
6. 1930 U.S. Census, Kings County, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district 24-1234, sheet 15A, dwelling 111, family 430, Meyer and Rose Schultz family; image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 November 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1493. 
71940 U.S. Census, Bronx County, population schedule, Bronx, enumeration district 3-955, sheet 10A, household 161, Meyer and Rose Schultz family; image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 July 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 2485.
8. "U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards," images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : 19 December 2010), card for Meyer Schultz.

16 August 2016

IAJGS 2016, Day 6

Renee Steinig and Judy Baston - "It's All in How You Ask: Getting the Most From Discussion Group Queries"

I was particularly interested Renee Steinig's and Judy Baston's talk because I, too, am a discussion group moderator for JewishGen. About 6-8 days each month I check the moderators' inbox for messages sent for posting on the main discussion forum: the "JewishGen Discussion Group."

Before sending messages on for posting, moderators must do some magic to the message headers and review content to make sure the messages are clear and acceptable within our guidelines. Renee moderates the Gesher Galicia mailing list and Judy, the JRI-Poland, Litvak SIG, Lodz, and Bialy Gen lists. For a list of JewishGen mailing lists, see this page.

Renee's and Judy's goals in this presentation were to help writers formulate inquiries that not only navigate the rules of all JewishGen mailing lists (thereby avoiding having one's messages rejected by moderators), but also generate the kinds of responses desired.

Moderated forums such as JewishGen's assure that no abusive, defamatory or indecent language is posted and that no one is subject to personal attacks. In addition, moderators review messages to ensure that copyrights are not violated in posted messages. All one has to do is read content in a non-moderated comment list these days to see why this is so important.

Moderators may change a subject line for a message or address capitalization issues, but they may not change the body of the message text. Therefore, if a message must be rejected for content, a moderator sends it back to the author and may suggest changes.

Additional reasons why a message might be rejected are the message:
  • was sent in plain text (the Lyris program will reject it);
  • was not related to Jewish genealogy;
  • included long quotations without permission (it is best to paraphrase long quotes and/or just provide a web link);
  • debates Jewish law or custom (Halakha);
  • discusses opinions on contemporary anti-semitism; 
  • should have been answered privately (usually for providing individual's contact information or for providing information that may only be of interest to one family researcher); and
  • (for SIG lists) is not related to SIG area of coverage 
If you would like to recommend a researcher of guide, JewishGen has a page specifically for this purpose in the InfoFiles area.

One thing I don't recall Renee and Judy mentioning is that moderators check all web links (URLs) provided in a message (including those for ViewMate messages). If one or more URLs do not work, that is grounds for rejection.

Renee and Judy provided guidelines for crafting quality messages/inquiries:
  • Make subject lines specific;
  • Do not include diacritical marks (accents) in your text - they are not supported by Lyris;
  • Use upper case letters only for surnames;
  • Full addresses/phone numbers of living people will not be posted;
  • Do not use abbreviations;
  • Provide enough information so readers know what sources you have already checked, but not so much information that readers will not read your message;
  • There is such a thing as too much information; and
  • When asking for help with a document posted on ViewMate, nclude surname, town, year (or approximate date).
In your signature block make sure to include:
  • Your full name and location;
  • Correctly spelled surnames and towns;and
  • A research (surname/town list) - limited to six lines.
I definitely like one of their helpful hints. If you have somehow missed the message from one day, you may request instant access to that day's digest for the main or SIG mailing lists. Put the following formatted information in your email subject line:
get [listname] (yyyymmdd]
Examples: get jewishgen 20160815
           get galicia 20160608

Send the message to lyris@lyris.jewishgen.org

You may also check message archives for the main discussion group or SIG groups.

Ron Arons - "Critical and Creative Thinking for Genealogy"


Ron Arons is a creative guy. He always seems to come up with new ways look at and analyze genealogical information.

He is also fearless. He knew full-well that he and I likely would have a difference of opinion about his topic, but he asked me to introduce him, nonetheless.

In this talk, Ron discussed two modes of thinking: critical and creative. Critical thinking is defined as deductive and focused. Creative thinking is inductive, divergent, diffused. Both are necessary and complementary when dealing with problem solving. Both are associated with skill sets that can be improved.

The Genealogical Proof Standard (© 2014-2016, E.H. Garber)
In particular, Ron was concerned that creative thinking been given short-shrift in the currently accepted genealogical methodology of the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS): that the GPS requires critical thinking and is hostile to silent on creative thinking.[1] He argued that the GPS only allows focused questions and does not allow consideration of the question, "why?"

The Genealogical Proof Standard was developed by members of the Board for Certification of Genealogists and outlines best practices for the discipline. Meeting the standard requires five elements:
  • conducting a reasonably exhaustive research, 
  • citing sources, 
  • analyzing information and assessing the quality of evidence, 
  • resolving conflicts, and 
  • developing a soundly-reasoned, written conclusion

As I mentioned in my comments toward the end of Ron's presentation, I was pleased that Ron has been studying and presenting about thinking creatively in genealogical research. Our thorniest genealogical problems are best addressed with a marriage of creative and critical thinking approaches. But, I do not agree with him that the GPS does not allow for creativity. Quite the contrary, I believe the GPS provides a framework within which creative thinking flourishes.

While Thomas W. Jones, one of the main proponents of the GPS, argues in his seminal work, Mastering Genealogical Proof, that we must start our research process with focused questions to "...frame our research scope, lead us to relevant information and help identify evidence...," his identification, evaluation and analysis of sources that may provide information that bears on our research questions is nothing but creative.[2] In fact some of the most outstanding articles published in the National Genealogical Quarterly, undeniably the flagship of GPS, blow me away with how creatively they solve problems posed.

Now, one of Ron's issues seems to be that the research questions that Thomas W. Jones identifies do not include why questions. Jones states that genealogical questions have two characteristics:
  1. They concern a documented person, and
  2. They seek information about the defining characteristics of that person (relationship, identity or activity).
Ron seems to believe that why questions, which may require information regarding historical context, are not acceptable in GPS. I would argue that within GPS context is critical to consideration of the location of extant records, to analysis of the creation and development of records collected, and, ultimately, to resolution of conflicts (which involves comparing and contrasting evidence from records and the context within which information in those records was recorded). Even creating citations for records used is a process that requires often in-depth understanding of the historical context of record creation.

Thus, while the purely genealogical questions posed by Thomas W. Jones, may seem stifling, they are, in fact liberating. As we pursue some basic questions, we are required to ask, "why?" Genealogical proof as defined in the GPS requires understanding of context.

Ron offered an interesting case for asking why. He tells the story of his grandfather who was married to several women at the same time.

He asked how common was bigamy in the 1800s and early 1900s? By the end of 1800s, bigamy was an increasing problem in New York - probably due to immigrant men making new lives for themselves in New York when their first wives and families were still in the old country.

He also wanted to know if his grandfather's sentence for bigamy was consistent
with those obtained by others. It was.

I agree that perhaps historical context and social science tools may not be applied as often as they should in genealogical analyses and provided in written genealogical proofs. But I would blame that more on the background of researchers than the limitations of the GPS. In fact, GPS requires that these types of context studies be integral, when appropriate, to our understanding of the genealogical record.

There's my soapbox and I think I will stand on it!

Notes:
1. Ron Aron has pointed out that I misrepresented his opinion on where creativity fits in the GPS. I agree my initial recollection was incorrect. I have, therefore, changed the text to more closely reflect his point of view.
2. Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 7.