FamilySearch Wiki talk:Use History Heading Rather than Local Histories Heading in Place Pages

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"Local Histories" or "Histories" heading on county pages?

I'm getting ready to launch a project to link wiki pages to 1300 titles in the BYU Digital Archives and I need some help solving a problem first. I noticed on Frederick County, Maryland that in the alphabetical list of headings/record types for the county, histories of the county are not listed under "H" for "Histories" but under "L" for "Local Histories." Even though each of these headings currently contains no content (so the headings are close together and can be scanned pretty easily) I didn't see "Histories" or "History," so I didn't think the county page had a section on histories. Not until I clicked Edit did I see that there's a section for "Local Histories." I believe this is a problem. I do not think it wise to list histories under "L." The word "Local" is merely a descriptor for histories, and I believe most users won't think to look under "L." I believe most indexes, phone books, and directories do not alphabetize items under their descriptors (adjectives) but under their main designations, which are nouns. But rather than going and changing all the county pages to fit "my way," I'd like to know what the rest of you think. Ritcheymt 19:23, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

proarenee, I definitely consider "History" for the county. The term "Local Histories" for townships and smaller jurisdictions.
This is why I asked the community about 2 months ago about changing "Quick History" to other heading and the suggestion was to change to "Quick Facts" in order to make clear there's "History" section for research. There is no logic for using "Local History/Histories" at all. I deleted "Local" word when I added histories to avoid the confusion. dsammy 19:35, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Dsammy, can you link to an example of a page containing the "Quick History" section you propose? I can't remember, but I think my impression upon discussing it with you before was that I wasn't sold on the heading of "Quick History" because the section was to contain other facts that didn't quite feel historical (like latitude and longitude, perhaps?). The reason I propose the plural heading "Histories" here is that there are two kinds of historical information people tend to add about a place. One is a brief history of the place as it relates to genealogical research. It's the kind of thing found in Ancestry's Red Book: First settlers, major waves of ethnic immigration, major boundary changes, incorporation, effects of wars, famines, major epidemics, transportation development, trade and industry, and other factors. All this stuff can easily constitute a complete article.
Baker County, Oregon it shows "Quick Facts", the third time, this time it was after group discussion and suggestion was to change to "Quick Facts" to separate two "History" and do away with potential confusion which Michael is now facing. dsammy 19:09, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
Some people may choose to have this article be separate from another historical type of article -- one regarding the location and use of histories published for the locality. That second article might employ the headings and variety of information found in FamilySearch Wiki:Headings for Articles about Records. Again, this information is extensive, and might merit the separation of this information into an article apart from the Redbook-style article outlining historical events that impact genealogy in the locality. The author might find that one good reason to separate the two kinds of "History" information into two articles is that writing about both in one article might 1) seem disjointed, and 2) force a title that is ambiguous.
If these two types of historical information are split into separate articles, each needs a title that will disambiguate it from the other. One possible solution is to name the Redbook-style article something like "North Carolina History" or "North Carolina historical events pertaining to genealogy" and the how-to article something like "Alabama histories." But on the North Carolina page, there are a set of Topics links that we'd want to link to each of these articles -- and each entry on that Topics list needs to be brief. So even though the article title "North Carolina Historical Events Pertaining to Genealogy" is probably a less ambiguous (better) title than "North Carolina history," the former is too long for the Topics list on the North Carolina page. So the link in the Topics list might be shortened to something like "Historical events." Therefore, the Topics list might contain two historical-flavored links: "Histories" and "Historical events." That's why I'm proposing that the current heading "Local Histories" on county pages be changed to "Histories" -- to indicate that the link leads to information about published Histories, not the History of the place. Does this sound wise or wacky? Ritcheymt 14:38, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Michael, my first thought on this is wondering why these would be different as well (History vs Local History). Are they like this in Research Outlines? Looking at the Frederick County, Maryland page that you referred to, it has the History section in addition to the current Local Histories section. Maybe that is what Sammy was referring to. In any case, those two sections would be confusing and even more so if the latter was changed to History. My opinion is that the Local History section should match what is in the Research Outlines for consistency between the old and the new. This will help with transitions. If people are using the Research Wiki expecting to find "History" (or "Local History") within the "Resources" and do not find it where they expect, they will think the information is not there. If the Resources do in fact refer to History, then I suggest Frederick County or other places that currently have a History section not associated with Resources should use something else as Sammy suggested. Thomas Lerman 16:19, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
My preference would be to leave it the way it already is, with "Local Histories" as the subject title. When I looked at the North Carolina example and read the content on the North Carolina History page, I saw there was a section on that page titled "Local Histories." I read through the content of that section and believe the heading is accurate for the content and also accurate for the page itself which is titled "North Carolina History". I think if we change the heading on the county level, the ramifications will be greater than we expect it might be because the state level pages for "History" also include in their content a section for "Local Histories". I believe there was a considerable amount of effort on the part of FHL staff to come up with the headings as they now stand. I think it would be wise to get their input before changes (if any) are made. I also agree with Thomas about the need to be consistent with headings that were used in the Research Outlines. If the Wiki remains consistent with those headings, I believe the transition to the Wiki will be easier for those who used the Outlines in the past. Franjensen 14:42, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
I like following the pattern in research outlines and the Family History Library Catalog for several reasons. Most of all, it is a relatively easy model to understand, and it so far has been remarkably well adapted to a variety of situations. "History" is the heading for (1) a history--an interpretation of past events, (2) county and local history citations that could list a researcher's ancestors, and (3) unusual calendar information. If two or three of these elements are appropriate togehter, a subheading can divide them, but the overall heading that works best is simply "History". This fits well with Library of Congress subject headings and FHL headings. If tried and true ways can be applied to new situations, lets see if they will work before re-inventing a different system with a less coherent way of working with all the other parts. Diltsgd 15:27, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
The main topics used in the Wiki match the FHLC and research outlines, and the FHLC and outlines do not use the topic of "Local History." But "Local History" is fine as a subheading under "History." In my opinion, "History" used on a state page implies the history of the state. "Local Histories" implies lower jurisdictional levels, such as county and community histories. On the state level, only a brief statement is needed for "Local Histories" with a referral to finding them, as on the North Carolina page. What is missing there and needs to be added is a referral and link leading to the county pages. "History" used on a county page implies the history of the county. "Local Histories" at this level implies community histories. Also in my opinion, the purpose of "Quick Facts" is to list items such as state or county founding date, parent counties, and so on. These are historical facts quickly reviewed and they should appear on a state's main page, not the history page (and they are missing from the state pages at this point). The same on the county level, though in that case "Quick Facts" and "History" would both be headings on the county's page. Bakerbh 15:19, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
I would also suggest leaving it as it is. When people see something that they are familiar i.e. the format of the research outlines, they have a level of comfort that they will be able to navigate around this new research tool we have for them. Anything that helps them feel at home, welcomed and invited to contribute is what the aim should be. So, if it's not broke, let's not fix it. Familyjournals 18:47, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
If I'm not mistaken, the term "local histories" was a term coined by historians to denote histories of a smaller geographical area than the "general histories" they normally dealt with. It became so popular that universities began offering classes and even degrees in local history, much to the chagrin of some of the old-time historians who wanted to generalize history on a much higher level. It is now, however, a generally recognized term by both historians and genealogists, and I see no problem in using the full phrase "local histories." Carrying the question a bit further, are we going to limit all topics to a single word? Is that wise? So we can't have topics such as "state census," "vital records," "American Indian?" If you want to delineate between types of history, why not have topics such as "histories, general," "histories, local," "histories, church," "histories, military," etc. which would put all the histories under "H" but separate them by type of history? And in the Wiki, can't we place cross-references and re-directs in it so no matter how the user would search, they would be led to the "local histories?" Jbparker 19:06, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
Too many redirects serve no purpose. WE are going into lowest level, the city/town pages now that "Local Histories" serve no purpose. Simple "History" in Resources section is very sufficient to lead the person to the record to research. Beside in the FHLC there is no "Local History" category, only "History" category. dsammy 19:39, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
Upon further consideration, I think I would actually prefer to use the "histories" heading at each jurisdictional level, so a state history would be under that history at that level, a county history under that heading at the county level, a town history under the "histories" heading at the town level, etc. In that sense, dsammy is correct in that the term "local histories" really serves no purpose since they will be associated with what ever jurisdictional level covered by that history.
I don't see us moving to limit topics to a single word, so I don't think "History" or "Histories" has an advantage over "Local Histories" in terms of length. But I don't think using a cross reference in this case works well either. If we wanted to create a cross reference at "History" to guide users to "Local Histories" or "Local History," the cross reference/link would be a heading. I think making a heading into a cross reference link feels clunky. It'd be okay if it was an index entry we were talking about, but headings are generally used to aid readability in an article, and I don't think it aids readability to direct someone's eye to a heading only to find that it's merely a cross-reference. So I'm being swayed by others' comments -- I'm being converted to the "History" camp and away from the mindset that we need two headings/articles (a history-of-the-place-as-it-pertains-to-genealogy heading/page and a links-to-histories-of-this-place heading/page. Ritcheymt 20:42, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
While the Research Wiki is hosted by FamilySearch, that doesn't mean we have to follow the FHLC or research outlines. Having said that, let me point out that this same discussion took place nearly a decade ago when GenUKI was founded. That volunteer group finally decided to pattern their topical headings after the FHLC because it was a format familiar to the most people in the genealogical community. Since the FHLC uses the topic heading History (with -Local an optional modifier), I strongly recommend the Research Wiki stick with it as an established standard. The British pages have already been created using the topic History as a linked page on every county and country page. Alan 22:27, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

It's better to have the topic History. Local histories can be a subset. I looked at a few research outlines for History. Most only have a list of dates and what happened to affect history in the area. Some list a local history or two but they are put at the end of the dates. The list we currently use in Wiki are the FHLC topics. These are our high-level topics. We allowed adding topics instead of subsets, we will "open the door" for any other topic, such as Marriage Records as its own topic instead of a subset of Church Records or NARA as its own instead of Archives and Libraries. If the majority don't care if there is a lengthy list of topics - perhaps dozens - on the home page then I won't protest. But, I prefer to have only History as the topic. Anne 13:50, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

I'm all for using History instead of Local Histories. Simple is important and we want people to easily access the information. Batsondl 15:14, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

So people, correct me if I'm wrong. I see the following results from this discussion. Please correct your entry in this table if I've read you wrong. Ritcheymt 21:03, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

User History Local Histories Something else (add it to the table)
Ritcheymt 21:01, 21 May 2009 (UTC) X    
Dsammy X    
Diltsgd X    
Alan X    
Thomas Lerman 21:37, 21 May 2009 (UTC) X   whichever is consistent with current printed publications (I did not take a look at any)
Franjensen X
Changed my mind. I think the History title with sub-headings as needed is the best option.
Bakerbh X    
Familyjournals X    
Jbparker X    
Anne X    
Batsondl X