Tuesday, January 27, 2009

General To-Do List

The purpose of this post is to re-visit my general to-do list, which I compiled a few months ago in a Word document. I think this will help me get my priorities in order, as discussed in my previous post. Here is what I had compiled, with my updated comments in red italics:

  1. Conform all sources in Legacy to the SourceWriter. As mentioned in the previous post, Legacy added a new SourceWriter system for entering sources about a year after I started using the program. This new system is very neat because it spits out your source citations on family group sheets and other reports in the same format as Elizabeth Shown Mills suggests in Evidence Explained. There are a few flaws in the system with some of the templates or with some templates missing, but overall it is very helpful in that it ensures completeness and consistency in source citations. I was converting all my sources by going down my master source list, choosing the next source in the list, finding all the individuals in my database with citations from that source, and then converting those citations to SourceWriter. However, I now find it more meaningful to start with a nuclear family first and then convert the source citations for each individual in that family. I number the people in my database based on ahnentafel and Henry numbering systems. I am #1, my sister is 1.2, my brother is 1.3 (I am the oldest), my father is 2, my mother is 3, my paternal grandfather is 4, etc. To convert sources by family, I've decided to start with my sister's family first (I am not yet married), since she is 1.2. I will then go to her spouse's (#1.2s) parents, who are 1.2s:2 and 1.2s:3. I think I have all of his great-grandparents and some of his great-great grandparents in the database, so once I finish with all those 1.2s's I will move onto my parents' nuclear family, who are number 2 and number 3. I will then move onto the nuclear family of my dad's younger brother, who is 2.2. I think you get the picture.

  1. Fix source citations, if necessary (i.e. delete alt. birth event if source citation is child’s census record and alt birth place is same as birth place…make comment that source confirms birth place only). As stated, I am mostly trying to clean up my events list for individuals. When I first started using Legacy, if a census record of a child stated his father's birthplace was Michigan, then I would create a separate event for his father called alternate birth that gave his father's alternate birthplace as Michigan. Even if his father's birthplace in the birthplace field on the individual information screen was Michigan or Mount Clemens, Macomb, Michigan, I would still create a separate event and call it alternate birth. I guess at the time my mind did not lke the idea of citing a source that gave birthplace only in the birth field on the assigned sources screen for an invdividual. Legacy does not allow you to distinguish between a source for birthdate and a source for birthplace. There are not two separate fields for birthdate and birthplace on the assigned sources listing for an individual. There is just one field called "Birth." I also did not like citing a source that gave birth state only and not the exact birth city named in the birthplace field on the individual information screen. The only problem with separating the events like this is that in reports, such as a descendant book, when I wanted to include events, the sentence would read "John has an alternate birthplace of Michigan." Well, this sounds kind of silly when in the paragraph above it says that John was born in Mount Clemens, Macomb, Michigan. So then I decided just to delete those events where alternate birth event contains at least the same state as the birthplace field on the individual information screen (note: although there are two separate fields for birthdate and birthplace on the individual information screen, there are not two separate fields on the assigned sources screen). I will move those sources (mainly census records) to the birth field on the assigned sources screen and put a note in the comments box on the source detail screen for each particular source that it is only a source for the birthplace and not birthdate and/or only birth state and not birth city. Again, I am doing this as I move through families, as in #1 above.

  1. Add comments to other citations, if necessary (i.e. if source confirms birth place but not birth date, add comment that it confirms birth place only). This is essentially the same as #2, except that I am adding comments for other sources for which I apparently did not mind citing in the birth field even though they may have only been a source for birthplace. Therefore, they are already in the right place on the assigned sources screen, and I don't need to delete any alternate birth events. I just need to add the necessary comments on the source detail screens. Funny how my mind works one way for some sources and a different way for others. Again, I am going family by family.

  1. Add source citations to relationships to father and mother. Apparently, Legacy has the option in the assigned sources screen for an individual to cite a source for his relationship to his mother and to his father. I didn't realize this until I'd been using it about 6 months. Unfortunately, there are some bugs in the program that do not allow these relationships to show correctly on some reports, but I still want to input this info b/c I am hoping that one day this problem will be fixed. Again, I am going family by family.

  1. Add text to source citations, when necessary. I always debate whether to add the text from a source, especially when I have an image attached to the source. On the one hand, it seems silly to type the text from the source when there is already an image attached. However, on the other hand, transcribing a source can help in analysis of the source and alert one to possible leads or incorrect information that would otherwise be overlooked by just reading a document. Also, when converting to GEDCOM for sharing with others, images do not convert. However, transcribed text will convert. So, therefore, I have decided to add text to source citations in my database, going family by family.

  1. Create Witness Event for witnesses to marriage licenses, deeds, and probate records. I've decided that I like the witness event I encountered while playing around with the 30-day free trial for The Master Genealogist. Since Legacy is flexible enough to add events, I decided to add a witness event. As I go family by family, I"m looking for source citations, such as marriage records, that include witnesses. I'm also adding events such as "groomsman" or "bridesmaid" because I have quite a few newspaper announcements for my maternal aunts' and uncles' weddings, listing siblings and cousins as wedding party participants. I'm going back and using the "God Mother" and "God Father" events that were already a part of Legacy, which I didn't realize until later.

  1. Complete research reports and proof summaries for direct ancestors. This has probably been the hardest task of all on this list. I got the idea for research reports and proof summaries from the the BCG's Genealogical Standards Manual. Basically, research reports center around a focus, such as the parentage of John Doe. They begin with a summary of known informaiton about John Doe with the appropriate source citations and a to-do list for further researching his parentage. Once the to-do list is complete, a summary of findings is written, and finally an itemized findings section is written. The itemized section discusses in more detail than the summary each source consulted on the to-do list. If necessary, suggestions for further research are then compiled in an additional to-do list, and the whole cycle starts over again. Proof summaries, on the other hand, are much shorter and do not contain all research and analysis. Their purpose is to record a convincing account of the evidence on which a conclusion is based. Although my to-do list item says to do this only for direct line ancestors, I've been doing some reports for my sister and her spouse's direct line ancestors. For my sister, however, I did not really do a research report since I did not do any research on her, per se. I just did a proof summary in cover-sheet list format, focusing on her parentage, listing her birth record, baptismal record, marriage certificate, etc. All of these items mention her parents. In the proof summary, the source is cited and then all relevant transcribed text is below the source citation. For her husband's paternal grandparents, I created a report with sections for proof of birth date and place, proof of death date and place, proof of marriage date and place, and proof of parentage. Again, the source is cited and all relevant transcribed text is given below the citation. I also added any necessary analysis below each section if the sources seem to contradict one another or do not seem to agree. These sound like proof summaries, and for the most part they are, but I think they have more analysis than a normal proof summary, and in the end, I put a section on further ideas for research. So it seems that I've kind of combined the idea of a research report and a proof summary. Of course, with my sister's husband's ancestors, I am not particularly interested in doing really in depth research beyond vital records and census records. I am mainly just trying to provide a starting point in case any of her future children inherited my genealogy genes. Maybe when I move up the family tree I will decide to break out the research report and proof summary for my ancestors whom I've done a lot more research on, some being negative search results. I guess time will tell.

  1. Create ancestor tables for all lines in file. I have not yet begun this, as it requires going outside of Legacy to create the tables. I got the ideas for tables from William Dollarhide's Managing a Genealogical Project. They are somewhat like pedigrees, but much easier to read and understand. Dollarhide provides a blank copy in the appendix of his book, but I was thinking of keeping these electronically by creating a format in Excel. We'll have to see...

  1. Create portable files for each married couple in database. Include research reports and proof summaries, family group sheets, ancestor tables, and copies of source documents in files. Ok, so here is where I promised in the previous post to discuss my filing system. I got the idea from Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens, who is the idea behind Clooz and owner of Ancestor Detective, to file all birth records together, all marriage records together, all census records together, etc. with no regard to family name. This solves the problem of whether to file a document containing more than one family name (such as a census record) in one family file or the other. This works perfectly fine, except when it's tme to study a particular family on a particular research trip. I also decided that I needed two separate sets of files anyhow: those that travel and those that never ever leave home. This will help prevent precious items from getting lost. Kind of like a physical backup system. Therefore, I decided to use the couple filing system to take with me when I'm traveling or even to use at home when doing new research on a particular family. As I go through my Legacy database, family by family as explained earlier, I have been creating folders for each couple. If the source document was created before the couple's marriage, such as a birth certificate for the wife, I file the source document in the wife's parents' couple folder. If it's the wife's marriage or death record, this would go in her couple folder. I prefer file folders b/c they are much easier to lug around on research trips than binders. Of course, I still have some families' records filed in a surname folder without regard to couples. I used to just create one folder for everyone with that surname. This was before I started that permanent system of filing all birth records together, all death records together, etc. These are mostly the families that I have not yet entered into Legacy. As I get them into Legacy, I will refile their documents according to type in my permanent files that never leave home, and according to couple in my portable files. But I guess for now, at least they are all filed and not still sitting in shopping bags or in piles on the kitchen table. Even if they are on two different filing systems temporarily. I can honestly say that I only have about 10 or so documents sitting in a pile on my printer right now waiting to be scanned, entered into Legacy, and filed. This is only b/c I've inherited so many documents in the last month since my grandmother died. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have any. Oh, and I've also decided to include maps of where my ancestors lived in these portable folders.

  1. Finish entering records into Clooz. For those of you who don't know, Clooz is an electronic filing system. I started using it in conjunction with my Legacy database about a year ago, but since I've upgraded to a new Legacy version, my old database no longer works with Clooz. This saddened me very much, as I did not archive my old Clooz file before upgrading. Now I have to start over. The only good thing is that I didn't happen to get much entered into Clooz before this happened. Maybe only 20 or so marriage records and 10 baptism records. As I go through each family in Legacy, I'm going to enter their source documents into Clooz. The only complaint I have about Clooz is some of the formats used for various records and the formats for some of the reports. But I think I can work around those problems. You can keep track of documents in Legacy, but Clooz is document-based and much easier to pull document-based reports from than Legacy. For instance, in Legacy, I cannot run a report that shows all sources attached to John Doe. I can see them on the screen in his assigned sources screen, but I cannot print this list. The only source citation report in Legacy revolves around selecting a master source and all source citations of this master source. I like Clooz because I can pick John Doe and run a report which shows all sources attached to him. Then I can see if I've missed looking him up in a census record because this report will also show his birth and death date. Clooz also allows the attachment of documents to unrelated individuals mentioned, such as the officiant of a marriage. This helps to see if the family used the same officiant over and over, which may suggest religious affiliation or church membership.

  1. Finish transcribing John Pemberton pension app. This is going to be quite a project b/c his pension app is over 100 pages. This is my great-great-great-grandfather who fought for the Union in the Civil War. To make a long story short, he fell off a train on his way back to Ohio from being held prisoner in Virginia. He tried to get a pension based on injuries received from the fall. But he continued to be rejected again and again due to lack of proof of medical care by a military physician. On one hand, I feel bad for the guy that he kept getting rejected, but this resulted in a 20 page deposition by him and 1-2 page depositions by his mother, sisters, and brother-in-laws about his character, experiences during the War, experiences growing up, etc. It's a genealogical gold mine, so I guess it was good in a way that he kept getting rejected. Every time I tell a family member about this story, their eyes light up b/c it's so interesting, so it's really important that I get this file transcribed, especially his deposition.

  1. Input data from John Pemberton compiled service records. I ordered this after the pension record noted above. Good thing I did, b/c it provided an alternate birthplace from the one mentioned in John's obituary. I'm thinking this one may be more accurate since he was likely the one giving the information for his service record. One of his children or his wife likely gave the information for the obituary. But anyhow, I need to get the info into Legacy. I didn't receive the info until after I had moved past John in my original entries in Legacy, so I need to go back and add this.

  1. Figure out a way to show the exact name on the document. Create event? Use AKA? Put in notes for source? I think this has been solved. Legacy allows a source for names, but I don't like to provide sources for names. This is because when you print a book, such as a descendant narrative, a long string of numbers will appear by the names referring to footnote sorce citations. If you've ever noticed, in formal genealogy publications, you never cite sources for names in articles. So I decided to create an event called Name on Record. I then enter the name exactly as it appears on the record. This is because I don't like putting women's married names as AKAs, and I don't like putting misspellings or variant spellings as AKAs. It just bothers me for some reason. Therefore, I rarely use the AKA field unless someone usually goes by another name, such as my aunt Deborah, who goes by Debbie. And again, I am going family by family.


  1. Wow. I'm impressed. If my list looked like that I'd be curled up somewhere in the fetal position. My to-do list reads something like this: "Enter easily available information on at least one ancestor per month without getting baby puke on the important documents." Surprisingly, this is harder than it sounds. I got one hour of genealogy done after the baby got to bed... woot!! So happy!!! Now, if I can just do that EVERY night....

  2. LOL! I'm sure my list will look somewhat like your's in about 2 years or so when I hopefully start having children! This blog entry was mostly to re-introduce myself to my genealogy project after taking a 2 month break. I think it took me like 3 hours to write all that red stuff.

  3. Hi Jennifer -

    You've inspired me to try out Legacy and go back to the basics: putting my genealogy file in one fact at a time, citing sources as I go.

    I just left a comment following yours on Amanda's blog: A Tale of Two Ancestors. It is good to know that others are out there doing the same good work citing sources!

    Keep up the painstaking work. You are bound to reap rewards because of it. I have already!