Monday, December 6, 2010

More on ... How do I enter information .... (GeneJ)

A few thoughts, followed by an example or two.
1. I see my role as an author, not a compiler. The author role brings with it more responsibilities than does the role of compiler.
2. I try to work from the known to the unknown, so I’m almost always introduced to a “new” person from the records I otherwise associate with a better “known” person.
3. I treat source materials as though each is somehow imperfect for my purpose and believe better information can be learned from the whole body of evidence.
4. I am constrained by time and resources. I recognize that as a persistent deficiency.
5. Analysis. reasoning and/or conclusion is involved throughout my process. Indeed, I "decide" which names to search and in which record groups I look.

Last week I found a New Hampshire vital record for the death of Hannah Preston in 1797. For several years, I've had a written proof record that involved reasoning about Hannah's death. The death record clarified much of what had been written in the proof. 

Since the death record was the my first entry from a particular collection of records at Family Search Labs, after celebrating a little bit, I set up a new master source in my TMG database and then developed citations pointing to Hannah's death, the existing proof argument and a separate existing conflict notation. I blogged about the finding ("Love it when a deal comes together"), and still need to update my master sources to record the blog entry.
Some sources, like Hannah's 1797 NHVR death record, are just that simple to record. Other evidence, like say a pension or probate file or a family reunion newspaper item might take a long time to fully appreciate. When a record isn't straight forward, I will set up the master source and then develop a research log and/or research memorandum to sort through and record research about the information in that source. 

I can and sometimes do enter both "births" and "altbirth" tags for a person. Most of the time, however, I record a conflict, and then set out to resolve the conflict by reviewing my body of evidence or finding new evidence, adding notes to the conflict record in that process. If I can resolve the conflict, I'll add proof-oriented comments or a proof argument. 

Sometimes conflicts and proof arguments can be added in a footnote or a proof tag in the file.  Lots of times I need more word processing power to do a good job. In those cases, I'll develop a proof argument in my word processor and set up a master source in the database that points to the word processor document.
Hope this helps. --GJ

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