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    Genealogy best practices?

    I'm new to serious genealogy tracking. I want to start out with the 'best practices'. I searched this forum & found very specific convention questions but no broad overview. I also noted you often share information with others so I can see the value in some level of standardization. Can anyone offer a link to general entry conventions? I have too many questions to list, or to start a new post for each of them but for a sample:

    For "Birth place", should I or do I need to, list the hospital (if they were so lucky) or should it be the city or the county or the state? What will be most valuable for someone looking for the records?

    Thanks for any leads you can offer. Once I get over my fear of starting out wrong and having to correct everything next year, I'm going to have a lot of fun with this!

    Bernie

    #2
    Re: Genealogy best practices?

    Originally posted by Bernie Doran View Post

    Thanks for any leads you can offer. Once I get over my fear of starting out wrong and having to correct everything next year, I'm going to have a lot of fun with this!

    Bernie
    Hi Bernie,
    I'm no expert on family history researching or Reunion. If I've learnt anything in the last 20 years, it's that everyone does it differently. Don't be scared about starting out wrong, it's impossible to start from a fully educated place, sometimes you don't know you don't like something until you've tried it. As the saying goes "you don't know what you don't know".
    As you learn more you'll change your mind about which is the right way to do things.
    For what it's worth, I store place names by the exact name complete with hospital name etc. I changed to that format a couple of years ago, just because I prefer it that way. It doesn't work well with geocoding but I don't care.
    You are going to redo your tree over and over again no matter how much pre planning you do, don't sweat it, enjoy it!
    S

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Genealogy best practices?

      Originally posted by suzivegemite View Post
      Hi Bernie,
      I'm no expert on family history researching or Reunion. If I've learnt anything in the last 20 years, it's that everyone does it differently. Don't be scared about starting out wrong, it's impossible to start from a fully educated place, sometimes you don't know you don't like something until you've tried it. As the saying goes "you don't know what you don't know".
      As you learn more you'll change your mind about which is the right way to do things.
      For what it's worth, I store place names by the exact name complete with hospital name etc. I changed to that format a couple of years ago, just because I prefer it that way. It doesn't work well with geocoding but I don't care.
      You are going to redo your tree over and over again no matter how much pre planning you do, don't sweat it, enjoy it!
      S
      Hi Bernie,

      Welcome to the world of Genealogy! I agree with Suzi! Many things will change over the years.

      As a newbie, one site I always recommend (I know, the old timers here are groaning-"Here she goes again!" I'm always telling newbies about Ben's site.) is Ben Sayer's GenealogyTools.com. I especially recommend his organization videos. On the home page, on the right top menu bar, go to "Start Here". Go down to "Setup Folders on Your Computer". I have never regretted changing over to his system! Even if you decide it's not for you, it may give you some ideas.

      One thing you need to do from the get-go! That's cite your sources! I am still finding old entries where I did not put sources for the info I have. Some of the info was from family but some I have no idea where I got the info. So, it means more research time to find sources to justify the info! Ben has a new course about this. You can read about it on his web site.

      Oh, on place names, I go from specific to general...i.e. city, county, state, country. I put the name of the hospital (or other organization) in the "Memo" field. For residences, especially from censuses and city directories, I put a Residence event field, date (even if only a year) and then the street address, city...etc. One exception to this is in the Burial Event. There, I start with the cemetery name, if there is one. Otherwise, I do as before, starting with the city.

      Good-luck, happy hunting and ask lots of questions!
      Last edited by kmgenealogy; 19 July 2012, 02:16 AM.
      Kaye Mushalik
      -Muschalik (Poland), Stroop, Small (Ireland), Fitzsimons/Fitzsimmons (Ireland) Pessara/Pesaora/Pesarro/Pizarro (from Germany)
      -Dorrance, Eberstein, Bell
      -Late2015iMac27"Retina5K, MacOS10.14, iOS12.1, R12, Safari12.0

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Genealogy best practices?

        Originally posted by Bernie Doran View Post
        For "Birth place", should I or do I need to, list the hospital (if they were so lucky) or should it be the city or the county or the state? What will be most valuable for someone looking for the records?
        To use your example, by all means record the name of the hospital. If you know the name of the attending physician record it as well.

        You will never go wrong if you record all the information that is available to you, but you may regret having left something out.

        Another example: If you have a marriage record, record the name of the church, the minister, the witnesses. These can be useful clues to further research.

        One more recommendation: cite your sources in every instance and don't delete information because it conflicts with something you've just discovered. It's your analysis of the conflict (i.e. why you chose one source over another) that will help you discover the best evidence and be a boon to those who will make use of your material in the days to come.

        Congratulations on your decision to begin by asking about best practices. Being conscientious in the beginning will save many a headache down the road. I suspect I'm not alone in having learned that the hard way.

        Hope this helps.

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Genealogy best practices?

          enter all the information you have, and where you got it from - I'd suggest you do 50 people, who you know fairly well, and then print reports, wait a week, (you could spend the week printing different reports) look at everything and decide what you hate - change it and proceed from there :-)

          Good luck
          Mary Arthur

          Comment


            #6
            Re: Genealogy best practices?

            Hi, Bernie

            Lots of good advice here. I'll try to add a bit more.

            One decision very well worth making early on is how you will use the source citation detail field. If you go to Help>Contents and type 'detail', then the first result you will see is 'Using the detail field.' I suggest you read this.

            As you will gather, it is a matter of personal preference how much use you make of the detail field. If you use it a lot, you will end up with relatively few sources, but each citation of a source will have its own detail. If you use it sparingly, by putting information such as page numbers into the source itself, you will create far more sources. This second approach is what I recommend (though both have their adherents).

            Why? In past versions of Reunion, it was not easy to search for whatever was in the source citation detail field, but this is now much improved. Nevertheless, I feel there is more to be gained by multiplying sources - chiefly, it saves work, because for a new source you simply duplicate the nearest match and change a number or two. For example, in the attached screenshot, source 979 was made by merely duplicating 680 (with Cmd-d) and altering two numbers - then of course attaching a different image.

            Hope this helps.
            Attached Files

            Comment


              #7
              Re: Genealogy best practices?

              Wow! Thank you, one and all, for the time you took to help a newbie.

              I was raised in the era when kids were admonished: "Don't touch it, you'll break it". While that saved my parents (few) finer things, it has stuck with me so much that I'm overly cautious when exploring new things like software. That, and the truism "you don't know what you don't know" lead me to ask questions on forums before thinking about clicking on the 'Help' tab.

              I am grateful to have found such a supportive community. Again, thank you.

              Bernie

              Comment


                #8
                Re: Genealogy best practices?

                Originally posted by kmgenealogy View Post
                ...is Ben Sayer's GenealogyTools.com.
                Well that opens a whole new kettle of fish, now I'm confused. I'm new to 'Reunion' (using 10.0.2) but I was expecting the software to do all the filling that Ben's videos show being set up in 'Finder'. Did I miss something? Or did you just point me there so I could see his standards for data entry?

                Thanks,

                Bernie

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: Genealogy best practices?

                  Originally posted by Bernie Doran View Post
                  Well that opens a whole new kettle of fish, now I'm confused. I'm new to 'Reunion' (using 10.0.2) but I was expecting the software to do all the filling that Ben's videos show being set up in 'Finder'. Did I miss something? Or did you just point me there so I could see his standards for data entry?

                  Thanks,

                  Bernie
                  Sorry Bernie, I pointed you to Ben's site because he has lots of good tips. His organizational folder system is just a way to keep things organized on your computer, outside your genealogy program. They will not fill in anything in your program but give you a way to quickly access information. For instance, I haven't used the multimedia capabilities of Reunion (yet), so I keep photos, docs and pdfs in the folder system. This has made it much easier to find things when I want to share with family/researchers. Hope this is clearer.
                  Kaye Mushalik
                  -Muschalik (Poland), Stroop, Small (Ireland), Fitzsimons/Fitzsimmons (Ireland) Pessara/Pesaora/Pesarro/Pizarro (from Germany)
                  -Dorrance, Eberstein, Bell
                  -Late2015iMac27"Retina5K, MacOS10.14, iOS12.1, R12, Safari12.0

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Re: Genealogy best practices?

                    Originally posted by Michael Talibard View Post

                    As you will gather, it is a matter of personal preference how much use you make of the detail field. If you use it a lot, you will end up with relatively few sources, but each citation of a source will have its own detail. If you use it sparingly, by putting information such as page numbers into the source itself, you will create far more sources. This second approach is what I recommend (though both have their adherents).
                    I routinely include the Film Numbers from the Family History Library Catalog along with the information on the files that were filmed. In the case of a copy of a document retrieved via web sites such as Amazon.com and Heritage Quest, should we include that information along with the identify of the file from which the copy was taken?
                    Thank you.
                    Al Poulin

                    Researching Marcoux, Côté, Dion, Turcotte

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Re: Genealogy best practices?

                      Originally posted by Al Poulin View Post
                      In the case of a copy of a document retrieved via web sites… should we include that information?
                      I guess so. Up to you. Your purpose is to tell somebody else (or yourself a few years hence when you've forgotten) where to go to check the information. In the case of the sources in my attached screenshot above, one could do that either by visiting the archive building in Saint Brieuc (as I have a few times) or by using their website (as I have hundreds of times).

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Re: Genealogy best practices?

                        Originally posted by Bernie Doran View Post
                        I'm new to serious genealogy tracking. I want to start out with the 'best practices'. I searched this forum & found very specific convention questions but no broad overview. I also noted you often share information with others so I can see the value in some level of standardization. Can anyone offer a link to general entry conventions? I have too many questions to list, or to start a new post for each of them but for a sample:

                        Bernie
                        Hi, Bernie,

                        I've also got another potential resource for you to consider. You might consider using Bento 4 - now on sale for $29 ($20 off regular price) and some Genealogical Research System templates (free through Bento's Template Exchange). it is a whole system based on Eliz Mill's Evidence:Explained source citation system, and moves you through citing sources to gathering your evidence to analyzing it to making a conclusion and moving proven results to Reunion.
                        Here are some websites you may want to check:
                        To buy Bento:
                        http://www.filemaker.com/products/bento/mac.html

                        To download Genealogical Research System Bento templates:
                        http://solutions.filemaker.com/datab...ial=2551723658

                        Author of the template system, Kathleen Tesluk, has a blog with very helpful information on using the templates:
                        http://voicesfromadistantpast.blogspot.com

                        Like you I'm trying to get my feet wet, and sometimes I'm fearful of where to jump into deeper water. However I do want to try this system as well as Ben Sayer's Practical Citation course.
                        Good luck to both of us!
                        Marscha

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Re: Genealogy best practices?

                          Originally posted by Bernie Doran View Post
                          Well that opens a whole new kettle of fish, now I'm confused. I'm new to 'Reunion' (using 10.0.2) but I was expecting the software to do all the filling that Ben's videos show being set up in 'Finder'. Did I miss something? Or did you just point me there so I could see his standards for data entry?

                          Thanks,

                          Bernie
                          I think the main thing to take away from this whole discussion is that the most important best practice in genealogy (and one that's not obvious to the newbie) is to document where you get the information you're entering for people. From there, you can decide how detailed you want to be. I tend to be a minimalist, and believe if the information in my citation is just enough for a stranger to find the reference again, I've done my job. But there's a whole lot more that can be done if it's an area of interest.

                          My experience with Reunion started with entering my first 25 people, and I knew their information backwards and forwards, inside and out. The next 25, I knew the data pretty well. After the next 50, I wasn't sure who all the first 25 were and really started losing track of where I was data wise. So that's the point where it hit home how important citations were. I'm not doing this just for myself... I hope one of my children or one of theirs will want to take it on at some point, and giving them the citations will give them the tools to really trust and build on the data.

                          So, again, my citations allow me to refind the original references from their source, plus I have a paper copy and/or digital image whenever possible. I think a lot of this discussion has been about how to catalog and store those copies. If it seems a little overwhelming, I'd suggest just having fun with the software for now, but make sure you can track down your references if you want to. It won't be long before you start figuring out how you want to integrate reference maintenance into your research, as long as you're at least aware of the issue from the start.
                          Last edited by ttl; 22 July 2012, 01:02 PM.
                          Tim Lundin
                          Heartland Family Graphics
                          http://www.familygraphics.com

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Re: Genealogy best practices?

                            Originally posted by Bernie Doran View Post
                            Well that opens a whole new kettle of fish, now I'm confused. I'm new to 'Reunion' (using 10.0.2) but I was expecting the software to do all the filling that Ben's videos show being set up in 'Finder'. Did I miss something? Or did you just point me there so I could see his standards for data entry?

                            Thanks,

                            Bernie
                            Ben Sayer's videos on File structure have very little to do with Reunion v10. His method of file structure has everything to do with [your] ability to find source material after six months (or more). Once your raw data has been organized (using Ben's method or something else), you can use Reunion to create a 'source" record for each piece of information you wish to record. Then and only then, can you record an event, fact or note for an individual (or couple) and tie it to that source with a citation.

                            Think of the relationship as a series of lists --- people, places, sources. Each individual can have any number of events, fact and notes - each must be properly sourced! Reunion v10 is the tool that ties all these disparate lists into a functional entity.

                            Any given source may reference one, or more individuals and possibly more than one event or fact or note per person! The point being that you can tie any given person, event, fact or note to any given source. The link between the two is the 'citation!'

                            Since you have reviewed Ben's Ideas. I suggest that your next step is to check out a copy of Elizabeth Shown Mill's book "Evidence Explained!" from your local library. It offers excellent advice about sources and how to reference them.

                            It has been some time since I offered my list of 'Genealogical Rules,
                            Arnold
                            -----
                            RESEARCHING: FRIESLAND (Holland); NEW BRUNSWICK (Canada); Maine, NYS & NJ (USA)

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