Monday, May 21, 2012

RootsMagic 5 - Lumping, Splitting, or Both?

After my success in adding and transcribing an obituary to use as a death source in RootsMagic 5, I decided I wanted to add Ellis Bickerstaff's Civil War Pension File (CWPF). I thought I should do a little research before attempting it and remembered reading a post, RootsMagic 5 from a Novice, by Kay at d kay s days about RootsMagic and a CWPF. In the comments section she wrote,
I have only learned after entering data from several sources that I would probably be best served to take a set of source material, such as the pension file, and enter each separate document as its own source. THEN enter the data for the events, citing the sources. In other words, plan ahead a bit :) Slow going, indeed, but once in the timeline is so helpful in appreciating the story that I am constructing.

I watched the RootsMagic webinar, Sources, Citations, and Documentation, a few months ago and I'll watch it again. But I investigated online a little more to see if others had written how they add sources and link them to individuals (or individuals to the sources) in RootsMagic.

I found a RootsWeb thread on the RootsMagic-Users-L Archive (from the email list of the same name) that described options for citing sources using language I hadn't heard before. They were new terms to me with regard to sources, citations, and documents. Do you know about "lumping" and "splitting" sources? I didn't, but I do now.
  • Lumping: There are few master sources with many citations per source. For instance, "Ohio Death Certificate Index, 1908-1953" would be a master source. Each individual's death certificate would be it's own citation within that master source.
  • Splitting: Each document is a new source. "Death Certificate of Lee Doyle," "Obituary of Henry C. Meinzen," and "Will of Elizabeth Armitage Meinzen" have their own entries as sources.

I believe splitting was the system I used in PAF (Personal Ancestral File), yet some of those sources were used more than once. Splitting is simple and direct but I had a very long list of sources. Someone on the RootsMagic-L thread suggested that splitting can make it harder to find sources. I can't understand how that can be when the title of the source tells me what it is. It seems that citations buried under master sources would make them harder to find.

Lumping would seem to require a well-thought-out, well-organized system in advance of entering sources. A Civil War Pension File as a master source with a citation for each document in the file seems simpler than a 1900 U.S. Census from Ohio as a master source with citations for half a dozen families that live in several different counties.

What am I missing? Am I making this harder than it ought to be? Am I being too careful (because I don't want to have to redo work)?

I know I'm going to love RootsMagic when I finally feel organized and comfortable. I know I will.

I subscribed to the RootsMagic-Users-L email list. I'm laying low at the moment but I sense that I'm far behind the level of expertise of most others on the list. I suppose the list's emails will double when I start asking questions.

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