Login to participate
  
       
Register   Lost ID/password?
Louis Kessler’s Behold Blog » Blog Entry           prev Prev   Next next

How Source Based Data Entry Should Work - Mon, 14 May 2012

On BetterGEDCOM, I was asked the question how Behold would handle some simple source examples in a step-by-step manner. Rather than just answer on their forum, this is an important concept that I’d like to present here so that all Behold users (and others interested) can see what I’m planning.

There are 6 sources in the example. This is what would happen with source based data entry in Behold as you find each one and add the relevant information for it before going on to the next.

1. Source: Conversation with Grandma
   Person of interest: John Doe (her grandfather, my g-g-grandfather)
   PFACTs:
   - Death: between 1904 and 1906 in Ourtown, Alabama (she was not yet in
      school, and she started school in 1906)
   - Birth: around 1830 in Histown, Connecticut (he was in his seventies)
   Confidence: not so high, Grandma wasn’t so sure herself

You would enter this as a source in Behold:

S1  Conversation with Grandma
   Death of John Doe, between 1904 and 1906 in OurTown, Alabama
      Note: Grandma was not yet in school and she started school in 1906.
   Birth of John Doe, around 1830 in Histown, Connecticut
      Note: He was in his seventies.
   Note: John Doe was her grandfather.
   Note: Grandma wasn’t so sure herself.

What you have done is entered the information about all the events mentioned in the source. You are NOT adding any interpretation to it, and you are spelling the name and place just as they were on the record. Each event is listed separately, following by the name, date and place of the event. If there is any other information about each event, then it is added as notes on the event. Other information about the source is added as notes on the source.

Important: At this point John Doe is not a person, a persona, or anything you want to call it. It is simply a name. You may enter hundreds of names in your sources, and they may have many weird spelling variations and may or may not be people you are interested in.

Theoretically one day (I’m trying to promote this), you’ll be able to download a file of source information from an archive or library, and extract information that may match your relatives (via name variations, date and/or place). A subset of BetterGEDCOM made just for source information would allow this. It is my opinion that source information needs to be completely separated from all personal conclusions, conjectures or any form of interpretation. As Joe Friday said: “”All we want are the facts, ma’am””.

A few of comments about example 1 that was provided:

1. PFACT is a term invented mostly by Tom Wetmore on BetterGEDCOM and is short for property–fact-attribute-characteristic-trait. This refers to anything that isn’t an event, with the difference being that events usually have a time and place, whereas PFACTs usually don’t. So the term is shown incorrectly in these examples because it is used to head a list of events, not a list of PFACTS.

2. I don’t know why the example added the note: “He was in his seventies” after the birth event and not the death event. None-the-less, you should accurately place information from the source where it occurred, and DON”T interpret that it was wrong when you list the source information. You can do that in your conclusion.

3. The “Confidence: not so high” was NOT added to the source. That is a personal opinion of the value of the source and not part of the source. That will be added to the person information later.

Okay. That took a long time. Now we want to use that first source information to create a person named John Doe. The way I’m hoping you will be able to do that would be to put your cursor in the Birth event of the source, and right-click and select “Create person from source event”. The person information will be added to Behold and will display as:

——————————————————- DOE-1
1. John Doe
  
Birth: about 1830 in HisTown, Connecticut
      Note: He was in his seventies.
      Source: Conversation with Grandma S1

The event is added in its entirety along with that incorrect note, which you will be able to delete or change at your leisure.

Also added is a hyperlink to HisTown in the place index and to the source itself. The place entry would be:

Connecticut, HisTown
  
Birth: about 1830 –> John Doe

The source itself would also be changed. It would now contain a reference back to the person. It would now look like this:

S1 Conversation with Grandma
   Death of John Doe, between 1904 and 1906 in OurTown, Alabama
      Note: Grandma was not yet in school and she started school in 1906.
   Birth of John Doe, around 1830 in Histown, Connecticut
      Note: He was in his seventies.
   Note: John Doe was her grandfather.
   Note: Grandma wasn’t so sure herself.
   Birth: about 1830 in
Histown, Connecticut –> John Doe DOE-1

Notice the last line added. That is no longer data. That is now a link back to the person and the place that this source has been referenced from.

Now let us put our cursor somewhere in the Death event of the source, right-click and say “Add event to John Doe”. Now John Doe becomes:

——————————————————- DOE-1
1. John Doe
   Birth: about 1830 in HisTown, Connecticut
      Note: He was in his seventies.
      Source: Conversation with Grandma S1
   Death: between 1904 and 1906, age 73 to 78 in OurTown, Alabama
      Note: Grandma was not yet in school and she started school in 1906.
      Source: Conversation with Grandma S1

The event is added to OurTown, Alabama in the place index and another link is added on the source. Behold gives the possible age range, and uses 1830 plus or minus 1 year when the “about” keyword is used.

At this point, you’ll want to add your reasoning as to why you came to the conclusions about John Doe. Maybe you’ll correct those notes as well. You’ll do that by simply typing your changes into the John Doe information to give:

——————————————————- DOE-1
1. John Doe
   Birth: about 1830 in HisTown, Connecticut
      Source: Conversation with Grandma S1
   Death: between 1904 and 1906, age 73 to 78 in OurTown, Alabama
      Note: Grandma was not yet in school and she started school in 1906.
      Note: Grandma said he was in his seventies.
      Source: Conversation with Grandma S1
   Note: All the info I have about John Doe was from Grandma. My confidence
      in her info is not so high.

Notice how that last note is indented. It is associated with the person and is where you can put your assumptions, conjectures and/or conclusions that are not associated with one specific event.The assessment of the quality of the information is also put here.


Now let’s add a second source. This time it should be easier for you to follow:

2. Source: Handwritten note by Jane Doe, daughter of John Doe
   Person: John Doe
   PFACTs:
   - John Doe died of a heart attack on the 3rd of April 1905, in the front yard of
     his home in Ourtown, while carrying groceries he just brought from the store.
   File: scan of the note.
   Confidence: pretty good.

This should get added into Behold as a new source:

S2  Handwritten note by Jane Doe, daughter of John Doe
   Death of John Doe, the 3rd of April 1905 in the front yard of his home in
      Ourtown.
      Note: died of a heart attack while carrying groceries he just brought from the
         store.
   Daughter of John Doe: Jane Doe

Notice I think you should add the Daughter line so that it is positively recorded that this record indicates that Jane is the child of John.

Right-click on the cursor when it’s in the Death event and select “Add event to John Doe”. Then right-click on the cursor when it’s in the Child line and select “Add relationship to John Doe”.

The result will be:

——————————————————- DOE-1
1. John Doe
   Birth: about 1830 in HisTown, Connecticut
      Source: Conversation with Grandma S1
   Daughter: Jane Doe DOE-2
      Source: Handwritten note by Jane Doe, daughter of John Doe S2
   Death: between 1904 and 1906, age 73 to 78 in OurTown, Alabama
      Note: Grandma was not yet in school and she started school in 1906.
      Note: Grandma said he was in his seventies.
      Source: Conversation with Grandma S1
   Death: Mon 3 Apr 1905, age 74 to 75 in the front yard of his home in Ourtown
      Note: died of a heart attack while carrying groceries he just brought from the
         store.
      Source: Handwritten note by Jane Doe, daughter of John Doe S2
   Note: All the info I have about John Doe was from Grandma. My confidence
      in her info is not so high.

——————————————————- DOE-2
   1. Jane Doe
 
     Father: John Doe DOE-1

Events in Behold are listed in date order except for the Birth and Death events. Those you will be able to sort in order of preference, with the most preferred, so you might want to drag and drop the 2nd death event before the first.

The second death is now superfluous, so it can be removed, but the notes are useful so we’ll keep those.

Certain things are hard for software to do. It would be difficult for Behold to detect for you that “OurTown, Alabama” is the same as “in the front yard of this home in Ourtown”. But you’ll be able to go to the place index and rename the latter to the former to change it (or maybe even drag and drop to make it easier). Then add that front yard info to the note.

Also, you’ll want to edit the notes you originally added when you only had the first source, since you now know more and your assumptions, conjectures and/or conclusions have probably changed. You’ll probably want to change that final note.

You’ll probably end up after these modifications with John as this:

——————————————————- DOE-1
1. John Doe
   Birth: about 1830 in HisTown, Connecticut
      Source: Conversation with Grandma S1
   Daughter: Jane Doe DOE-2
      Source: Handwritten note by Jane Doe, daughter of John Doe S2
   Death: Mon 3 Apr 1905, age 74 to 75 in OurTown, Alabama
      Note: died of a heart attack in the front yard of his home while carrying
         groceries he just brought from the store.
      Note: Grandma was not yet in school and she started school in 1906.
      Note: Grandma said he was in his seventies.
      Source: Conversation with Grandma S1
      Source: Handwritten note by Jane Doe, daughter of John Doe S2
  Note: Most of the info I have about John Doe was from Grandma. My
      confidence in her info is not so high, but I have pretty good confidence in the
      note by Jane Doe.


So I hope you’re getting the idea. There’s actually four more source examples still to finish. The next source is:

3. Source: Copy of death cert for John D Doe
   - John D Doe died 1905-04-03 at 11 a.m. in Ourtown, Ala.
   - aged 74
   - Cause of death: Heartattack, confirmed by Dr Doc.
   - Handwritten note: “Buried 3 days later, St. Michael’s”
   File: scanned document.
   Confidence: looks official, but have to find out more about the burial.

S3  Copy of death cert for John D Doe
   Death of John D Doe, 1905-04-03 at 11 a.m. in Ourtown, Ala.
      Note: aged 74
      Note: Cause of death: Heartattack, confirmed by Dr Doc.

   S3-1  Handwritten note
      Burial of John D Doe, 3 days after death in St.Michael’s
      Text: “Buried 3 days later, St. Michael’s”

In this case, there is S3-1 which is a source detail. Source detail is used when a source has different parts you want to refer to, such as different pages of a book, or different lines on a census.

John D Doe is a different name than John Doe. When right-clicking to add the event, if the person’s name isn’t spelled perfectly, hopefully I’ll be able to set up Behold to allow you to choose the person to add the event to, or allow you to search for the person you want to add the information to.

The burial is a new event that would get added.

The age of 74 would tell you that John must have been born between April 4th 1830 and April 3rd 1831, so you could update the birthdate info, link this source to that birth event, and add a note stating that the death certificate gave the age 74 and this was used to narrow down the birth date.

Then you can update your assumptions, conjectures and/or conclusions – basically, now you are pretty certain of John’s death date.

 

4. Source: Birth cert of Johann Doe
   Note: this is the only J. Doe to be found in Histown, Conn that was born in
      1830 +-1
   Person: Johann Doe
   - Born 21st December 1830
   - Parents Hans and Marie Doe
   - in Histown, Conn
   - baptised 25th Dec, catholic
   File: scan
   Confidence: The data is trustworthy, and it’s a really good fit. Could be my
      John D Doe, but needs more proof!

This is a really long exercise, and I’m sure you’re getting as tired of reading as I am of writing and formatting the examples.

The key thing for the 4th source is it’s up to you to make the decision as to how you would classify this person. If you feel you’re reasonably sure that he is the same as your John Doe, then you can add this source’s events and relationships to your John. The name Johann Doe would be added as an alternative name of John Doe that you’d have to find more proof on.

If you don’t feel this person has enough information to be a match, then add him as a new person. This would be a new person with parent info, birth info, baptismal info and location info.  If I build in the GEDCOM ALIA (alias) feature, you’ll be able to link the two people to indicate they may be the same person (so you don’t forget).

 

5. Source: Birth cert of John Dorian Doe
   Grandma found this in a drawer with other family documents.
   Person: John Dorian Doe
  - Born 3/3/1830
  - to Stephen Doe and his wife Hilda, née Schmidt
  - in Histown, Massachussetts
  - he was their 2nd child
  File: Scan
  Confidence: quite high.
  Note: Grandma says that she wasn’t sure about the “Conn” anyhow.

So … the place was a “Con” (pun intended). What the example was asking is: “how should this correction of conclusion be recorded?”

In my eyes, it’s simple. Simply correct your conclusion data (change the state on the place name Histown for John’s events – either from John himself, or from the Place index), and then record in the assumptions, conjectures and/or conclusions that Grandma originally thought it was Connecticut. That is important to remember. There may be something significant about Connecticut that she got mixed up about. Any clue is a clue that might one day prove useful and shouldn’t be forgotten.

Now about that Johann Doe guy from source 4.  If you didn’t assume he was your John Doe, then you may only have to remove the alias and he’s separated. If you feel he was a complete red herring, you could delete him from your data. But better might be to leave him and add your conclusion that you thought he might be John Doe because he was the only one in Connecticut, but that ended up being the wrong state. Doing so will refresh your memory 20 years from now when you come across him again in some other document.

But if you have added the events of Johann Doe to your John Doe, then what do you do? Well actually, it’s pretty simple. All the events, done from this source-centric method of including them, automatically have their source references attached to them. Simply go to: S4 Birth cert of Johann Doe, and select each event, fact or relationship, right click and pick the option “Disconnect from John Doe” to remove the link. Hopefully, I’ll be to include selection of the whole source, so you can add or remove a number of events at once.

Now isn’t that simple and elegant? It is my vision of how this all should work.

6. Source: Death of Johann Doe
   Article in the Histown (Conn) Paper, 8th Sept 1834
   “A fire consumed Doe’s smithy yesterday, one of the oldest buildings in
      town…”
   “the blacksmith Hans Doe couldn’t save his youngest son, Johann, age 3
      and 3/4…”
   Note: this is to show that Johann Doe of Histown Conn is not my John D Doe.

So now, if you are still interested in this guy, you can add these events to the Johann Doe that you have disconnected from your John Doe.  Who knows. They have the same last name and are only a state apart. Maybe in further research they’ll turn up to be cousins. If they do, you’ll be glad you saved all this work and didn’t delete it.


I’d like you to note a few things about what I’ve done here.

1. This is what I’m proposing that Behold in Version 2.1 with source-based data entry might be like. It is my belief that this is both the best and the correct way for us to do our genealogy.

2. KISS. It’s got to be simple. Multi-level layers of fluff won’t work for the general populous.

3. Flexible. It’s got to work, not just with this simple example that was proposed on the BetterGEDCOM wiki, but with source types that will challenge persona-based models that disaggregate data, e.g.:

(1.) A Census record which includes multiple generations and side-relatives of a family with piles of info in the one record.

(2.) A seating list at your grandfathers wedding which shows one interesting table of people sitting together that leads you to believe they may have been relatives of each other or had some other relationship (friends, coworkers).

(3.) A clipping about a town fire you didn’t know about that destroyed your ancestors’ neighbours’ homes and that makes you believe it affected their life causing them and possibly other relatives to move to a different city. But nothing specific about your ancestor is mentioned in the article.

If the events are embedded with the source, then these and even more complex types of sources can be handled.

4. The above examples have nothing to do with transfer formats. GEDCOM is only a few tags short of allowing everything here. BetterGEDCOM or GEDCOM X most likely will allow everything here. I just hope BG and GX don’t end up over complicating everything.

5. I would appreciate all comments, criticisms and suggestions. Although I have developed my ideas this far, there are always things that I’ve not thought of and nothing’s set in stone.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Comment

You must login to comment.

Login to participate
  
       
Register   Lost ID/password?