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Wyoming Biography Database

Wyoming Biography Database - rules

As one might imagine, the information people provided for their biographies varies greatly. I had to make a number of decisions for this project as to how I would unify and standardize the information extracted from each biographical sketch. Below are those rules and notes that I hope will be helpful to you in interpreting the data.

General | Names | Geographic | Dates | Return to Main page

GENERAL

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  1. To be included, a biography must provide at least a person's name and general indication of vocation or life history. Sources providing merely anecdotes about a person are not included.
  2. I encourage the user to obtain the actual sketch whenever possible. Many are rich in details about both the ancestors and children of the subject. Often the article also includes narrative about a spouse's family. In some cases, the source illustration includes other family members.
  3. Only people are indexed; occasionally companies or communities are profiled in these books but are not included here.
  4. In the case that a person's illustration is on a page different from the biography, the page number refers to the beginning of the biographical text. Illustrations often are clustered so the user should scan the pages before or after the text when looking for the photograph.

GEOGRAPHIC

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  1. Town, township, county, and state names match the text as far as possible. No effort has been made to verify or correct spellings provided or to ascertain the existence of placenames.
  2. When the text says a person was born, for example, "at the family ranch in Wheatland," and it is obvious that ranch property cannot be located within a municipality, the abstract says "near Wheatland."
  3. The user will need to be aware of changes in political jurisdiction which occurred over time. For example, present day Wyoming was variously part of Utah Territory, Dakota Territory, Nebraska Territory, and Wyoming Territory before achieving statehood in 1890. Some sketches recognize changes by indicating someone's birth occurred, for example, "in Laramie County, now Platte County." In those cases, the contemporary Laramie County appears in the abstract. In most sketches, however, the placename contemporary to the sketch is used freely even when it is apparent that the birth, marriage, or death occurred before the establishment of present jurisdiction boundaries. In these circumstances, the abstract matches the text. In addition, sketches often refer to a town assuming the reader knows its location is Wyoming. The abstract supplies the Wyoming designation regardless of territory or state status.
  4. Sketches frequently say someone was born, for example, "on the Sweetwater River" or "on the home ranch." Those references are rarely carried through to the abstract. Only political jurisdictions are used so a county is included wherever it can be identified. In the absence of a county, only Wyoming is indicated. Sometimes it is difficult to tell whether, for instance, "Pleasant Valley" is a town or a geographic area. In the absence of distinguishing information, it is treated as a town and requires further investigation on the part of the user.

NAMES

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Names, particularly women's, present a challenge when information must be abstracted and given some kind of uniformity. The following rules describe some of the decisions made in this project.

  1. The most complete form of a name that can be constructed from the sketch is used. I tried to keep in mind that a user may know a person only by nickname, a woman by her maiden or any one of her married names, and an adopted child by natural or adopted name. Nicknames are enclosed in quotation marks (""). Common nicknames are omitted (e.g. Robert/"Bob") unless specified in the sketch.
  2. If a woman's maiden name is clear, it is enclosed in parenthesis (). In many cases, it is unfortunately not made apparent although it is probable that the name appearing after a married woman's first name is her maiden name. In these cases, brackets [] indicate the uncertainty. The user should read the original sketch whenever possible and draw his own conclusion.
  3. Where father and son have the same name, the sketches are not consistent but their terminology is followed. The abstract only uses "Sr." and "Jr." when specified in the sketch.
  4. "Adopted by" and "raised by" are distinctions carried through from the text. Adoption is not assumed. Names of all involved adults are abstracted if known.
  5. Occasionally, a subject does not have the same surname as the father and usually includes no explanation so it is not clear if this information is a typographical error or intentional. Often this happens with Scandinavian names, following the traditional patronymic naming system wherein the name changes from generation to generation. For whatever reason, the abstract mirrors the text.
  6. A woman's name generally is abstracted with all the names used during her life (i.e., Frances W. (Amberg) Wasserman Altman. In this example, Amberg is her maiden name, Wasserman is her first husband's name and Altman is her second husband's name.
  7. A woman's middle initial is sometimes difficult to interpret. For example, if Anna (Lewis) Blume's sketch refers to her in one place as Anna L. Blume and in another as Anna (Lewis) Blume, it is not clear if the middle initial stands for Lewis or another name. In those cases, the middle initial has been dropped in the abstract.
  8. Generally, titles of honor or occupation are omitted from the entry. These include Reverend, Honorable, Colonel, M.D., D.D.S., etc.
  9. If the spelling of a name takes one form in the sketch's heading and another in the text, the most common spelling is preferred, or, lacking that, the form used in the heading.
  10. If it is apparent that a woman divorced, her name is still constructed in a manner consistent with other names in order to provide access to all names by which she may have been known.

DATES

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  1. 1. Most dates are straightforward in the text and therefore in the abstract. Sometimes a season is as specific as the abstract can be and occasionally "ca." is used to indicate an approximation.
  • Wyoming Biography Database was developed by Janis Leath.
  • Content last updated: 2010-02-18
  • Design last updated: 2013-3-28