Malachi's Promise "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers...." Malachi 4:6

Sunday, January 13, 2013

You Genealogists with More Experience than Me, ...

. . . may I please have a moment of your time?  I have a question for you.

When you find a document that may be about one of your ancestors (or may just as well not be about one of them), what do you do with it?

I have several documents (a will, a census record, etc.) about people who are probably my ancestors but I don't have enough information (yet) to make a  good case for a relationship.  I haven't been adding the names or documents to my genealogy program or to the notes section of my genealogy program, either.  But then when I find some other information that might support this person, I have to go searching for the previous information/document I found.

What do you do?  Add the person to your database or not?  If so, how do you identify the person as a possible ancestor (as opposed to a found ancestor)?

I would greatly appreciate answers from those of you who have more experience than me.

Thanks so much!

--Nancy.

Note, January 15:  In addition to the comments below, Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings wrote a post answering my question. You can read it at "What Do You Do With a Document for a Potential Ancestor?" Thanks, Randy.

Note, January 26:  Michael Hait of Planting the Seeds: Genealogy As a Profession also responded with a a helpful post, "When you find a document that may be about one of your ancestors ..."  Be sure to read the comments accompanying that post for additional information.  Thank you, Michael.
 

12 comments:

  1. If you feel like the document tends to support the person being an ancestor, then I'd add and do extensive notes about why the probability is good.

    The software I use doesn't let me use a "disputed" or "probable" checkbox of any sort, so I exploit my note field. As far as I know, the note filed doesn't have a character limit.

    I'd probably also blog about it, just in case there are other folks out there (especially collateral relatives) who may have been there, done that...

    Dee

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  2. I have several people in my tree identified as "poss Frederick Brown" or whatever the name is. That clues me in that I am working on this name but don't have enough evidence to really support the name. It's also easier for me to review my many, many brick wall ancestors, with the first name of "poss."

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  3. Nancy, Although I've been doing genealogy a long time, I'm not sure I'd consider myself experienced. Anyway, I'm replying. I do a combination of things, keep the papers in a folder and/or do a Miscellaneous and (whatever the surname is), to name the name Miscellaneous Jaquays. In my file like that, I have 36 different people with sources, and I don't know the relationships (you could sort by first name or date, mine are listed as when I entered them). Whatever you do, keep the papers, don't toss.

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  4. I don't have any more experience than you but I'll share my method. I have a surname file folder for each of my ancestors on my computer. Any documents supporting a "possible" ancestor, or documents that "possibly" support a known ancestor are saved to the file folder with "possible" in the file name. I have these "possible" ancestors in a different tree from my known ancestors. I call it my test tree. That way I don't muddy up my real tree with a bunch of possibilities. I also concur with Dee, I think blogging about it is also a great idea.

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  5. Another possible option may be to use the Clooz software program. Funnily enough, I wrote a blog post a year or two ago about how I've decided not to use Clooz anymore. However, at the time, I was trying to record every single document I had in Clooz and it was getting tedious. If you are just looking to keep track of people and documents that you're not sure about, it probably wouldn't be as tedious. Another reason I am now recommending it is because the new owners seem to be very interested in modernizing the program and are very responsive to customer concerns. Anyhow, it acts like an electronic filing cabinet of sorts where you can transcribe a document, link it to a digital image, and attach the documents to individuals in your file. You can import people and sources from a Legacy or RootsMagic database or GEDCOM. You can run reports to show exactly what documents are attached to a particular person. You can also run reports to see all the people in a particular township or county in a given census year.

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  6. If I think the document is relevant, I enter all the people in the document with their relationships as an 'island' in my database. In other words: I just enter all the information from that record like there was nobody with that name already in my database. That will allow me to gather other evidence that goes with that family, for example other relationships between the people mentioned in the document. I often research the "friends, associates and neighbors" (FAN) of these people to see if I can find any link with my relatives. If I find proof that my relative is the same as the person in the document, I merge the two persons and all the work I've done on the island will be connected to my own tree.

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  7. Thank you all so much for responding to this question. You've shared good ideas about how you record and keep track of those "uncertain/possible" ancestors. My thoughts about how to do it were not too far off from what some of you do and I think I'll implement them. Thanks again, all!

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  8. Nancy, I just wanted to let you know that your post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2013/01/follow-fridayfab-finds-for-january-18.html

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  9. Nancy, I addressed your question in a post today: http://michaelhait.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/when-you-find-a-doc/

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    Replies
    1. Michael, I left a long comment on your post. I'm grateful to you for taking the time to write a post to answer my questions. I appreciate it. Thank you.

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  10. Nancy, I cannot tell from your question whether or not this is an organizational problem or a problem created because your research isn't focused. I like your approach of keeping your genealogy software clean by only linking relations if there is no question. I do not use genealogy software, but keeping tabs on associates, neighbors, or possible kin, along with the analysis of your findings can be accomplished by creating files in your project folder. (I assume you have a computer file for the project.) I would put your analysis in a word-processing document within the project folder. I would not attempt to do a quasi-fix by adding people to your database that are not proven.

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    1. Thanks for responding, Rondina. After reading Michael Hait's post I think the problem is organizational. I think the problem has been just not knowing what to do with the uncertain people, at least until I'm certain they're ancestors. Your suggestion is like Michael's: a separate word processing file document for each search. Yes, I don't want unproven people in my database. Not good. Thanks again for reading and leaving a comment. I appreciate it.

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I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

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