Have I been driven by my genealogy software ?

 
 
 
4 posts / 0 new
Last post
rworthington
rworthington's picture
Have I been driven by my genealogy software ?

Dear Editor,

With some changes that have been made on Ancestry.com and their Ancestry Member Trees, I have stepped back a bit to see IF I have been handling citations appropriately. My genealogy software may have driven me in the direction that I have taken.

I will use a Census Record for my example. In Evidence Explaned your Census Examples have indicated to me, that for each person in that Census Record I should have a Citation. That would allow me to enter the Line number for the person. If the household had 5 members in the household I would have 5 Citations, with links to the Facts that I might enter into my database for that peron from that Census Record.

My genealogy database program has encourged me to craft a Citation for the Household, where I would list the head of household and inclusive line numbers. That one citation would then link to the 5 members in the household and the facts or events that the census claims to be true.

For another extreme example, and this is where I started to question my data entry. I have one (1) Citation with 14 people, with 3 or 4 facts for a total of 45 Facts linked to that Citation. OR I would have 14 Citstions, with links to the facts or events for those 45 facts.

One Citation to many people to many facts or events

or

A Citation for each Person, with links to their facts or events.

Before I make the massive changes in my database, choosing Each Person with a citation. I thought I would pose my question here.

My "old" way has worked very well for me in the past, but don't want to make the massive change without your quidence.

Thank you,

Russ

EE
EE's picture

Russ, you're asking good questions and there are some issues to clear up. Some of it, I think you know already but the way it's expressed above could lead some readers to misread your intent--so I'll address it. Some of the confusion, stems from the fact that you've been doing research since "way back when," when software developers themselves did not understand citation principles and built some confusing practices into their software.

  1. For censuses that are only one-line entries, such as the U.S. censuses from 1790-1840, we cite that one line by its line number. For censuses that number the dwellings and families, such as the U.S. censuses from 1850 forward, we cite the dwelling and family numbers. For those years in which we cite dwellings/families, we don't need to also cite the lines numbers on the page. Most good software today offers templates that follow this rule. In creating a citation, if the person we are citing is in a household that carries a different name, our citation might say "Joe S. Whipperdoodle in family of John Brown.
  2. Citations aren't attached to people. They are attached to assertions. It's not people we're having to prove, it's assertions. Therefore, every asserion that is not common knowledge should carry its own citation of source. If you extract 15 "facts" about Joe S. Whipperdoodle from the 1850 census, then each "fact" will have its own citation. If that Brown/Whipperdoodle household has 10 people in it, then each time you extract a "fact" for one of those people, you attach that 1850 census citation. Practically speaking, of course, that means your database has one citation to which x-number of "facts" are linked.
  3. The rule by which we measure good documentation is not the number of citations. It's not some people:citation ratio. Good documentation--and reliable work--is measured by whether every assertion is supported by valid evidence.

Does this clear things up?

 

The Editor

rworthington
rworthington's picture

Dear Editor,

Thank you so much for clarifying.

So, I have been citing my Census Records correctly. Just didn't explain it correctly here.

I need to change my terms from Facts or Events to Assertions. I know better, but that word hasn't made it into my vocabulary, but will soon.

Thank you,

Russ

EE
EE's picture

Yep, Russ. When we see an assertion about an event, we would like for it to be a fact!  But, it's just a claim until we assemble adequate proof.

 

The Editor