Sunday, December 5, 2010

When do you enter data into your database ?

At a genealogy chat in Second Life (SL), there was a discussion as to when one enters information into the database.

I thought it might be interesting to post how and when I enter information into my file. There is already one for entering a Name. So, starting with a name in your genealogy software:

When do you enter additional information about that person?

I will post when and how I enter information and way.

First, the program I use allows me to have that same Event or Fact used more than one time. There are three fields for each fact or event. The Fact Name, the Date of the Event, the Location of the Event. Depending on the Fact, a description field is also available. A citation can be attached for Each Fact or Event.

I should note, that it is rare that I find the complete Event or Fact information in one Source. Generally it takes several documents for a complete statement or details of an Event.

Birth being the Fact Name
Date (of birth)
Place (where was the birth)
Description (more details of the place)

This is the known details of a birth:

Birth was August 7, 1916 in West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania, at home.

Looking at a Census Record, you might find the Birth Year of 1917 and in Pennsylvania.

I, for one, will enter just that information with a Citation for the Census Record.

In an obituary, the complete birth date and West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania is included in the obituary. That is what I enter into my  database, along with the Citation.

At this point, there are two Birth entries. The program wants the user to select one of the multiple entires as the "preferred fact" entry. I select the more complete entry. This is the beginning of the Evaluation of the material I have in hand. Not yet complete, but it may be all that I find.

Later, a diary is found, of the mother, that the child was born in a home, the date and location of that home are in that diary. This would then be another Birth Fact, and since it is more complete and in a diary of the birth mother, this entry would become the Preferred Entry. It is also another piece of evidence of the birth of this person.

I don't go back and delete any of the previous entries, but continue to add additional birth facts / events as they are found.

For example, in this case, the memorial plaque in the burial ground only has the year of birth. Again another Birth fact is entered, with only the birth year and a citation on where the birth year came from.

I would not just attach this citation to the Census entry, because the census entry included the state of birth. This is a different entry.

The reason that I do this is to be able to look at a screen to evaluate the evidence about the birth of this person. In this example, there is a complete entry about this birth, and the additional entries have less information but support the birth of this person.

If there are conflicting pieces of data for any fact or event, it can be seen on one screen for further research and evaluation of the Sources that provided the information.

In my database, I try to record exactly what I find, and cite the source of that information. If I were to share this information, the person receiving the information could look at one of the sources and see what I saw. I will have drawn a conclusion based on the evidence at hand, but the person receiving my information may have additional or different information and draw a different conclusion.

Over time and as additional information is found, my conclusion may change.

Just a note about the "Preferred Fact". There is a feature when generating charts or reports to report the Preferred Only Facts, or all Facts. In most cases, the Preferred Only facts are used for my reports, and that would be my evaluation of the evidence at the time that report was generated.

Each of us needs to make our own decision as to when to enter data into our database, this is just how this user enters this type of information.


Myrt said...

Dear Russ,
One thing I neglected to mention in our Second Life discussion last night is that when I've had to calculate the birth location, I'll use the prefix "of" (without quote marks) to let me know I've calculated the birth place based on:

-- parent's marriage place
-- immediately older sibling's birth place
-- immediately younger sibling's birth place
-- territorial, state and federal census records

Thanks for starting this thread.

Russ said...

Dear Myrtle,

Thank you.


testuser42 said...

Russ, may I ask what software you are using?
The ability to have a lot of instances for every fact sounds very good! If used with discipline, like you do, it seems to be a way to keep the evidence safely away from the conclusions.

Russ said...


For these tests, I have used Family Tree Maker Version 2011, Roots Magic 4, and GRAMPS Portable as indicated in my postings. I have shared a test file with GeneJ and we have used this same test file as a common input to the various programs, and have returned them to various programs as I have tried to post on this blog.

The purpose was to have a 'test' file to share our experience. It a test of the various programs by to show what happens when a file is opened by these programs.

If you would like a copy, I'd be happy to send it to you, if I have your email address.

Thank you,


testuser42 said...

Hi Russ, I was refering to this:
"First, the program I use allows me to have that same Event or Fact used more than one time."
Which software is that?

Russ said...


Family Tree Maker

Sorry for the delay. Traveling


testuser42 said...