Ancestral Code Numbering System
To organize our McAlister genealogy, we assign a unique code for each family line. We begin with the oldest known ancestor of the line, and use the initials of his given name(s). For example, John McAllister is a "J" line, and William Crawford McAllister is a "WC" line. A two-digit number is then added to the letter code to distinguish between the many progenitors with the same initials. So J26 is the 26th family line with a "J" progenitor. The family code is used as the prefix for all descendants of the line, using an approach we adopted from the "modified register" system used by many genealogists.
Clan McAlister of America maintains a genealogy index / database containing information on more than 200 McAlister family lines. The purpose of the index is to bring together the pieces of individual family research so that we can try to find common ancestors and to link family lines together. Over 96,000 McAlister descendants are currently in the index. This resource is used by the CMA Genealogy Committee as a reference tool to respond to genealogy inquiries from CMA members and for initial queries from nonmembers. We also use the index / database to provide members with descendant reports for specific families that they believe may connect with their own line. The index is a useful tool to help each of us find clues regarding ties to other American McAlister families and advancing our search for more distant ancestors. We maintain stringent procedures to assure privacy of family information. Detailed information from the index is not distributed to anyone outside the CMA organization.
How to send your McAlister genealogy to the CMA
If you would like to add your genealogy information to our Clan McAlister library and to our database, please send your materials to the CMA Genealogy Committee. If you have your family history in a computer genealogy program, we can very easily compare your information to our index to see if there are connections to other lines and to fill in any gaps. Please send us a copy of your computer file, We can handle all of the major genealogy software files or export your data to GEDCOM file format so we can include your family. If you have only paper copies of your genealogy, we will review the information to and add it to the index. Having a family profile in the index is the most effective way to find connections to other families. We receive new genealogical information daily, and it is always cross-checked with the index for matches.
The Line Coordinator serves an important function in assisting the efforts of the Clan McAlister of America to compile McAlister family histories. The main role of the Line Coordinator is to have an active interest in the family line, and to be willing to communicate with the Genealogy Committee and CMA members about the line. Coordinators are appointed by the Genealogy Committee Chairman to serve until such time as they voluntarily resign or until they are no longer members of the CMA. The basic requirements for the Coordinator are:
- Current membership in Clan McAlister of America.
- A willingness to work with the Genealogy Committee to ensure that the family line is properly represented in the CMA Ancestral Database.
- A willingness to communicate with CMA members about the family history of the line and possible connections with their families.
- A willingness to collaborate with other Line Coordinators regarding possible linkages between family lines.
- A copy of the line from the CMA Ancestral Database (formats include: MS Works, spreadsheet, PDF, printout, etc.)
- An electronic file containing all genealogical documents and correspondence pertaining to the Line that have been submitted to CMA (in PDF format).
- A list of CMA members that descend from the Line, and other contacts who have contributed genealogical information on the Line to the Database.
- Other support and guidance, when requested, from the Genealogy Committee.
Searching the CMA Index / Database
In the past, the CMA has been criticized for not making their index / database available to interested researchers. The accusation was that CMA was being 'stingy' or some such.
Anyway, the truth of the matter is that ALL the data the CMA has is the paper files, which anyone can access if they ask, and an index / spreadsheet listing of names, birth/marriage/death dates and locations, which is a distillation of the material in the paper files. That is it!
When gen data are submitted to the CMA, first someone either sends paper files, like Family Group sheets, or creates a GEDCOM file from their gen program. (GEDCOM is a text file but it strips out all the notes, stories, pictures, etc. that Family Tree Maker, for example, lets you add.) When that person sends the GEDCOM to the CMA Genealogical Committee, the Database Manager runs it through a series of macros (tiny programs) that strip out even the sources and convert it all to spreadsheet format. CMA uses MS Works but the data can easily be converted to Excel. The reason they use MS Works is that its search capabilities are much faster than Excel's. And, once the inquirer has been identified as belonging to a specific line, CMA will give them the spreadsheet for that line.
Now, here is the key to the whole thing. The *only* function of the index / database is to identify which line an inquirer belongs to. That's it! The index / database is not a gen research tool or source. It is simply an index of the results of all the different contributors' efforts but it is hardly the final word. (Check out the notes on sources.) So, when an inquirer sends his/her data, the CMA identifies the line and then refers the inquirer to the Line Coordinator for in-depth info. This is, in fact, the proper function for the CMA. The CMA has no business being gen cop to the whole McWorld and does not have the resources to do that, either. It is up to the Line Coordinator to collect and correlate the work of any active line member's researches. The Line Coordinator is the one who is in a position to evaluate the validity (or not) of any gen info because he/she is the one most familiar with it, not the CMA.