Anders Family
David Asbel Anders with
Jim and Tina Smith Anders

US GenWeb Project

Rufus and Florence Hall Owen Family in 1947
Rufus and Florence Hall Owen and children

US GenWeb Archives Project


Transylvania County, NC 

GenWeb Project

NC GenWeb


Household Abstracts

Many project visitors will notice that the family research files of the Transylvania Tour are organized a little differently than genealogy books, classes or software currently explain or produce.  There is a reason.  This is the third generation of a completely new approach to family and local history research that I have been working on about four years now.  It is part of my overall genealogical approach to historic inquiry that combines the methods and historiography of an academic historian with the resources and knowledge of the people who have inherited a specific aspect of our shared past.   

Essentially, the Household Abstract takes advantage of computer technology to combine a more traditional family group chart with brief abstracts of primary sources and bibliographic information of secondary sources.  Older, pre-printed forms have been limited by space.  As a result, source information has been briefly summarized if included at all.  Future researchers have been left with the challenge of guessing a source for a specific piece of information, not knowing if a specific resource has already been accessed, and wondering what to do with conflicting documents.  As the Household Abstracts continue to evolve, future researchers will have a summary of sources located and a clear understanding of what further research needs to be completed.

The second new approach offered by the Household Abstract is a focus on the social relationships within a specific household instead of simply genetic ties.  In addition to a father, mother, and their mutual children, households can involve step-children, adopted children, additional relatives by blood or marriage, and employees among others.  All of these individuals help shape the lives of the other household members and are therefore important when studying a specific individual life.  A prime example of this is found in the household of Dr. E. S. English.  Dr. English became the legal guardian of Elizabeth Ramseur after her father's death.  She is sometimes listed as a niece or a foster child in related documents.  But she is equally listed as a daughter in documents that include Dr. English's obituary.  While she may have lacked the exact genetic relationship of a daughter, her social relationship within the household clearly placed her as an equal sibling.

I am politely requesting everyone to refrain from adopting this method for published and posted research- yet.  First of all, doing so is highly illegal and unethical since I do reserve the copyrights and intellectual property rights.  But more importantly, these templates are still under development and only a fraction of the whole package is currently visible online.  Future use of this approach by everyone will be much more beneficial if we all stay on the same page.  Ultimately, the goal is for any researcher who encounters a Household Abstract to be able to accurately extract information with no further explanation.  In addition, clear instructions for entering and interpreting data will enhance the reliability of the method as it grows.  That is the future dream.  In the meantime, I hope you find this "3.0 Beta Version" useful.

Of course, fair use provisions allow users to experiment with this new approach within personal research files as long as they remain unpublished.  In addition, facts provided on specific individuals within these Household Abstracts or any other source cannot be copyrighted.  Since human error and document limitations are a factor in any resource, researchers should always consult the original documents and additional sources whenever possible.  As always, sources should be included just as source information is included in the Household Abstracts themselves, though clarifying it as a secondary source and not the original document as appropriate

 - Linda Hoxit Raxter, originally posted March 12, 2003

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