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Source Driven Genealogy - Sun, 24 Feb 2013

Theresa (Serenity2006) contributed a detailed and notable post on the Behold User Forum. It prompted my thinking and is some new thinking that I’ve not encountered before. I encourage you to read it now.

Theresa is doing a one-place study. She needs software that can do source-based data entry. She needs software that can enter a lot of source data easily and rapidly. Taking 1000 hours to enter a single census record is obviously not acceptable. And her frustration is in trying to find a program that can record all the needed data, make the data entry task easy, and then produce useful reports making all the data entry time worthwhile.

Maybe the source-driven requirements of a one-place, or a one-name study are different than the needs of a typical genealogist. But I think they are rather similar.

A census record for a genealogist will typically include a single family or maybe several families. These may involve several, or even dozens of people. Although there are not hundreds or thousands of people, like Theresa needs, There still could number hundreds of facts that need to be entered.

Genealogists tend to enter this the wrong way. They find the person, and add the facts to the person. If they’re diligent, they’ll also add the source to each fact, but no software requires them to. Then they no longer have the ability to view the data again by source.

The source data should be entered by source. I expect to make this possible in Behold. Teresa wants several things and this is how I feel I might implement her concerns in Behold:

  1. Organize Sources using Keywords/Groups.

    Source titles should be properly named. If this is done, then Behold already sorts the sources and the source details within the source correctly using its smart sort. For an example, see the Steven McCarthy sample file that comes with Behold.

  2. Data entry templates for sources.

    We really want good tools to make repetitious data entry easier. Templates are one idea. Text snippets is another. Copy and paste from one source to another should also be possible. These will have to be added in some way into Behold to allow source-based data entry.

  3. Associate the source table with the place table.

    Behold already has the event in the place table. But adding the source of each event might be a good idea. I’ve now added that to my Future Plans.

  4. Associate a repository to a source (many to many)

    GEDCOM allows multiple Source_Repository_Citations for a single Source_Record, so this capability is already in Behold. Behold’s Repository Details already display the sources obtained from each repository.

  5. Associate a repository to a place, so the place report will include the repositories.

    Good idea, but that may not be possible if the data is to be transportable. GEDCOM uses an Address_Structure in its Repository_Record rather than a Place tag. Rarely can you get the place from the address. Some translation table would be required.

The bottom line is that data entry should be source-based and quick and easy. The people could be attached to the sources rather than the other way around.

It must produce output which is useful. Spreadsheets are what Teresa finds most useful now, but if the source information were layed out properly, spreadsheet manipulation might not be necessary.

These are tough goals, but I think they’re mostly achievable within the Behold framework.

Now onward.

2 Comments           comments Leave a Comment

1. arnold (arnold)
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Joined: Mon, 24 Nov 2014
10 blog comments, 13 forum posts
Posted: Mon, 24 Nov 2014  Permalink

I very much second your (& Theresa’s) thoughts and conclusions.
Til very recently I have been using a couple of the conventional genealogy apps without too much (or at laest not enough) thought given to ’sources’ etc.

In collaborating with other family members, I realized more and more that it was not enough to simply add ‘facts’ to the tree, but that it equally or even more important to be able to backtrack and verify those ‘facts’ whenever new a source with more or the same ‘facts’ became available.
That is why I am currently evaluating Behold.

2. Louis Kessler (lkessler)
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Joined: Sun, 9 Mar 2003
231 blog comments, 226 forum posts
Posted: Tue, 25 Nov 2014  Permalink

Excellent Arnold.

Of course, Behold does not yet have the editing and the source-based editing option in it. I’ve still not finalized it yet, but my current thinking is to have a split screen showing you the source at the top or bottom, and your conclusions at the bottom or top.

But you can see in Behold right now, in the sources section, how the sources are set up, wth source details under each source, and with each event the source or source detail supports specified in the source section along with their links back to the conclusion section.

This source section embodies my idea of how sources should be done, and allows for source-based genealogy, where you can enter your source information first, and need not make your conclusions until later.


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