To date several hundred people have helped me extend the Burdick genealogy from Nellie Johnsonís 1937 total of 44,000 people to well over 85,000 people today. And I would very much appreciate your help in increasing that number with your own family line.
Our family continues to grow as new dates and places of births, deaths and marriages accumulate. Unlike hardcopy genealogies, our on-line version can grow until you and I are simply historical statistics in it.
One difference between this genealogy and Nellie Johnson's book is the easy incorporation of "unregistered" Burdicks. These are Burdick lines that have not yet made a connection to the greater family tree but are, nonetheless, just as important as those who have made a connection. Actually, these unconnected lines may be more important as they may contain key information for other researchers. And, if an unconnected line does make a connection as a descendant of Robert Burdick, the entire line can be merged with the rest of us. Your data is important.
But I do have a few rules. First and foremost, the Burdick genealogy is NOT a repository for your entire body of research. You may have traced the lines of all 8 of your great-grandparents, but I only care about one. Namely, your Burdick line or lines (if you have more than one.) I know that many of you have performed fantastic work about numerous families, but this is not the place to record it.
Following Nellie's pattern, the Burdick genealogy contains parents of spouses but terminates at that relationship. For example, my wife's parents were Kenneth Kirk and Ella Samuels. While the Burdick genealogy contains an entry for my wife (Lois) and her parents, the Kirk and Samuels lines are not traced back any further than that. Similarly, my mother's and grandmother's families (Rasmussen and Gleichmann, respectively) do not appear in the Burdick genealogy -- just their parents.
Then, of course, there are female Burdick lines. Nellie's book traced these lines, but not to the extent they could have been recorded. The on-line Burdick genealogy changes that. Even if your Burdick connection is 10 generations back, through your mother's mother's mother, there is a place for you here.
I am trying to stay as flexible as possible regarding the format in which you send me data. I know that many people use various genealogy programs and all of them are able to export GEDCOM files. This would be a great way to send me your information. But if you use this method, please do not send me your entire database! Find the appropriate Burdick ancestor and grab all those descendants. And, as described above, collect only spouses, parents of spouses and children.
Don't send me a link to your "genealogy.com" page or any other web site. I will not be able to sift through your data, that's what I need you for. I'm here to record the Burdick information you have accumulated, so help me if you can. I hope that does not offend anyone. If you don't use a genealogy program, I suspect you have your family information recorded in some fashion. Whether it is Word or PDF files, Excel spreadsheets or other digital information, I want it. If you have not yet entered your family information into any sort of digital format, there are lots of references that will show you how to do so.
Finally, if you do not have access to a computer or cannot put the data into a digital format you can always send me copies (please, never send me any original documents) or scanned images of the pages.
The last remaining question then is, if you have a connection into the Burdick family tree, which ancestor should you use as the root of data you send to me. That's kind of tricky to answer, and it's easier to tell what NOT to do. Do not send me your entire line back to Robert Burdick. Start with where you believe your information is better than what is already recorded. In my situation, I decided to use my grandfather as the root of my immediate family's information. Even though my grandparents appear in Nellie's book, as do my father and his brother who were young children at the time, I decided to replace Nellie's records of them with my own. The information I have from my grandfather forward is, understandably, much better than what Nellie recorded.
Oh yeah, and be sure to precisely identify the ancestor who is your link into the Burdick family tree. There are a lot of James and Jonathans, so use the unique ID provided by the database to state exactly where you fit in. You would not want future historians to think you are descended from the wrong person!
So gather everything you have and email it to me with "Burdick Family Update" in the subject line. Use attachments or include the data in the body of the email, whichever your prefer. If you prefer to mail me hardcopies, just drop me an email and I'll send you a physical address. And don't worry if, after you send me your information, you accumulate more. Remember, this is a database that can be modified. It is not a book where once it's in print, that's it. But for the sake of my own sanity, I would prefer that you try to complete your input to me in one pass.
Many people are, rightfully so, concerned about security in today's interconnected world. One of the reason I selected the on-line database program I did (it's called The Next Generation, or TNG) is because of how it protects personal information. Anyone who is 100 years old or younger is considered to be "living" and their information is not displayed. For example, you can look up my grandfather, Howard Elwood Burdick, and display his descendants. You'll see my parents, who are both deceased, but you will not see me, my brother, our wives and children, as all of us are alive. Special access to the database is required (which only I have) in order to see information about living persons even though it is safely recorded for future generations.
It is important to record as much as possible about our families for future generations, especially names, dates, places and pertinent notes. As I said, I have taken all precautions to protect your data but if you still are not comfortable with providing certain information I understand. If you prefer you can send me incomplete information about your family members -- perhaps just names, or even just calling them "Spouse", "Son" and "Daughter". Anything will help future genealogists, the choice is yours. Remember how excited you were to find YOUR ancestors? Well, if someone had not recorded that information then you, too, would be among the many who are unable to trace their family history.
I hope I have not made this difficult, that is not my intent. If you have any questions, please ask.
Finally, keep in mind that this information will outlive us all. So be as accurate and as truthful as possible. Future historians will thank you for it, as do I. If you have updated family information you would like recorded please send me an email with "Burdick Family Update" in the subject line.