Monday, May 31, 2010

“Evidence: There’s No Better Rule”

See “Evidence Management” for an overview of this series and for links to other articles.

“You [are not] responsible for my mistakes and wrong conclusions,” [said Pip.]

“Not a particle of evidence, Pip,” said Mr. Jaggers, shaking his head and gathering up his skirts. “Take nothing on its looks; take every thing on evidence. There’s no better rule.”1


I’ve discussed the immaturity of the source summaries of and Today, I will examine the embryonic nature of their evidence management and their total lack of evidence summaries (the green boxes in the diagram, below).

The Evidence Management Diagram
Evidence can be managed when
separated from sources and conclusions

Current genealogy programs lack separate treatment of evidence. Source summaries and records of individuals are left struggling to fill the gap. Some aspects are picked up by each, as shown in the diagram below. Contrast this with the evidence management diagram (above).

Diagram of genealogy programs that lack evidence management
Current genealogy programs suffer because
evidence is not managed separately

One may well ask if it matters that users follow established research processes and proven techniques for evidence analysis. Consider the following:

  • User retention goes up when success goes up. Conversely, research errors are demotivating at best and—when publicly and embarrassingly discovered—can be humiliating.
  • Genealogy practitioners have invested tens of thousands of hours distilling successes and failures into a research process that repeatably yields positive results.
  • Subscribers whose retention is most at risk are the very users least likely to follow successful research practices without guidance.
  • Software that reflects and enables successful research practices will lead to greater research success and greater subscriber retention.

Think back to the example in “Evidence Management Explained” where the month and day for the conclusion came from one source and the year came from several other sources. Compare the two diagrams above, while you think about these questions:

  • When evidence and conclusion are one and the same, what do you do when making a conclusion that is different from the evidence in any one source?
    • Do you enter a primary conclusion that is not linked to any source?
    • Do you link the primary conclusion to a source that states something different from the conclusion?
  • When evidence and sources are one and the same, what do you do when the source contains both primary and secondary information?
  • When evidence and conclusion are one and the same, what do you do with contradictory evidence?
    • Do you enter an erroneous, alternate conclusion?
    • Do you leave the contradictory evidence unconnected to the conclusion?
    • Do you enter source notes explaining the contradictory evidence?
    • What if the source also contains supportive evidence?

Further, when evidence is not managed separately from sources and conclusions:

  • Reports can not be generated about the evidences.
  • Evidence lists can’t be generated.
  • Evidence can’t be flagged as primary/secondary, direct/indirect, or supporting/contradicting.
  • Lists can’t be sorted by characteristic.
  • Lists can’t be grouped by geography or by time period.
  • Lists can’t be printed showing evidence that requires additional work or special handling.
  • Should you discover you misidentified a person, it takes a lot of manual work to move evidence from one individual to another.

Evidence. There’s no better rule.


     1.  Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1881), 366; digital images, Google Books ( : digitized 19 March 2008).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Of Sources and Citations: All Bets Are Off

See “Evidence Management” for an overview and links to other articles in this series.

I recently received this message (which I have edited slightly).

Dear Ancestry Insider,

In "Evidence Management in the Wild" you wrote “As does PAF, misuses the terms source and citation.” I would find it useful if you could put up the "correct" definition of those two alongside the PAF and Ancestry definitions, so I can understand the differences. I don't use those 2 for recording stuff but do use a GEDCOM based program, which may, or may not, have similar "issues". (I put “issues” in quotes not because I don't believe you, but rather because on my side of the Atlantic this sort of thing doesn't register anywhere in Family History. On the other hand being trained as a mathematician and having done data modeling, I do appreciate robust definitions)

Adrian Bruce

Dear Adrian,

I would be happy to.

Elizabeth Shown Mills taught me that wise genealogists would do well to recognize the centuries of scholarship that proceed them. Thus, for the definitions of source and citation, one need look no further than the dictionary. Back in November I did just that, augmenting the definitions from the writings of leading genealogists. (See "Genealogical Maturity Model Definitions.")

  • source – 1. the origin that supplies information.1 2. “an artifact, book, document, film, person, recording, website, etc., from which information is obtained.”2 

  • citation – 1. “citations are statements in which we identify our source or sources for…particular [information].”3 2. “a citation states where you found [the cited] piece of information.”4

  • information – 1. “knowledge obtained from investigation.”5 2. “the content of a source—that is, its factual statements or its raw data.”6

  • evidence – 1. “something that furnishes proof.”7 2. “information that is relevant to the problem.”8 3. analyzed and correlated information assessed to be of sufficient quality.9 4. “the information that we conclude—after careful evaluation—supports or contradicts the statement we would like to make, or are about to make, about an ancestor.”10

  • conclusion – 1. “a reasoned judgment.”11 2. “a decision [that should be] based on well-reasoned and thoroughly documented evidence gleaned from sound research.”12

Citation Style

For citations, the Board for the Certification of Genealogists recommends the humanities style from the Chicago Manual of Style. The humanities citation style utilizes reference notes (either footnotes or end notes) and bibliographies. Bibliographies are sometimes called source lists because they are lists that summarize all the sources used in an article, report, or work.

Reference note citations must be highly specific, citing the page level in a book or the certificate level in a vital records collection. Befitting its role as a summary, citations in a bibliography are more general. All the pages cited in a book can be summarized by citing the book. Citing a birth certificate collection is an appropriate summary for several certificate citations.

I have my own name for the information dropped from a reference note to create a citation in a bibliography. I call it locator information because it allows a researcher to locate the specific source cited by a reference note within the general source cited in a bibliography. For a book, the locator information is the page number. For a birth certificate, the locator information depends on the clerk's filing system. Are certificates filed by certificate number? Person's name? Birth date? Are new files started each year? Locator information for birth certificates involve one or more of these pieces of information, as appropriate.

PAF Meant Well

For reasons I will explain in a minute, PAF users are surprised to learn that both a reference note and an entry in a bibliography are citations. They may be likewise surprised that both a page of a book and an entire book are sources. You'll see the origin of their confusion in a moment.

Recording citations can be tedious, so programs use several ways to make it easier. Many genealogy programs exploit the fact that citations in bibliographies lack the locator information found in reference note citations. By prompting users separately for the bibliography citation and the locator information, the information in the bibliography citation doesn't have to be retyped for each reference note. Unfortunately, when prompting users separately for the bibliography citation and the locator information, PAF called the former a source and the latter a citation.


Let me summarize. PAF calls a bibliography citation a source. And it calls locator information—a portion of a reference note citation—a citation.

Let me say it another way. PAF uses source for something that is not a source and citation for something that is not a citation.

Yes, they meant well. But this error has propagated to subsequent genealogy programs (which also faced the lack of a term for locator information).

Non-genealogists use the terms source and citation and they understand one another. Genealogists use the terms and all bets are off.

     1. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, online edition ( : accessed 23 November 2009), “source.”

     2. Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FNGS, FASG, FUGA, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 2nd ed. [hereinafter, EE2] (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009), 828.

     3. Mills, EE2, 42.

     4. Patricia Law Hatcher, CG, FASG, quoted in The Source, ed. Loretto Dennis Szucs, FUGA, and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, FUGA, 3rd ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2006) p. 24; citing “How Do You Know?” in Producing a Quality Family History (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1996), 117.

     5. Merriam-Webster, “information.”

     6. Mills, EE2, 24.

     7. Merriam-Webster, “evidence.”

     8. Mills, EE2, 822.

     9. Christine Rose,CG, CGL, FASG,, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case (San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2005), 2.

     10. The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, ed. Helen F. M. Leary, CG, CGL, FASG, (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2000), 8.

     11. Merriam-Webster, “conclusion.”

     12. Mills, EE2, 820.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

NGS Conference Not the Last SLC Snow

NGS attendee, Randy Seaver, enjoys a spring snow storm in SLCJust a quick note on yesterday’s weather in Salt Lake City.

Attendees of the National Genealogical Society Conference in Salt Lake City were treated to some snowy Utah spring weather. Randy Seaver posted a picture (right) and said, “For a San Diego boy who has seen snow fall like twice in his life, this was a really big deal.” (Click on the thumbnail to see the entire photograph.)

MaySnowBut that storm was not be be the last of the season. Yesterday Salt Lake City broke a record for the latest spring snow storm ever.

“Think Warm Thoughts.”

Photo courtesy, submitted by D Van Wagoner.
Click the photograph to see the complete photograph and others submitted by KSL viewers.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Evidence Management

A researcher acquires sources, extracts information, identifies evidence, and analyzes all in all to reach a defensible conclusion. This is a genealogist’s research process. This is the standard a genealogist uses to “prove” a conclusion.

Evidence Management consists of the methods and tools a researcher uses throughout the research process to gather, track, and apply evidence.

Just as individuals grow in genealogical maturity, so too does software. This series of articles examines the maturity of evidence management on the and websites. Software vendors are the primary audience for this series. It will be quite technical, so some of you will have to bear with me. If I simplify it too much, I run the risk of miscommunication to the vendors. Hang with me, I have some lighter fare planned for the future.

Evidence Management diagram
The Evidence Management diagram shows the distinction that should exist between source tracking, evidence summaries, conclusions, and people in a genealogy programs.

As new articles are published, I will add links to this table of contents:

To learn more about evidence, the research process, and the genealogist’s standard of proof, start with these sources.


Mills, Elizabeth Shown, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA. “Fundamentals of Evidence Analysis.” Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Second edition. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009). Pages 13-38.

———. Evidence Analysis: A Research Process Map. Laminated study guide. Washington, D.C.: Board for Certification of Genealogists, 2006. I haven’t personally used this source, but I understand it is a separate publication of the diagram inside the front cover of Evidence Explained.

———. “Working with Historical Evidence: Genealogical Principles and Standards.” National Genealogical Society Quarterly [issue titled Evidence: A Special Issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly] 87 (September 1999): 165-84.

Rose, Christine,CG, CGL, FASG. Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case. San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2005.

Tucker, Mark. “Genealogy Research Process Map.” ThinkGenealogy: Genealogy, Software, Ideas, and Innovation, 10 July 2008. : accessed 23 May 2010.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Evidence Management in the Wild

Evidence management diagram

See “Evidence Management” for an overview of this series and for links to other articles.

This week I’ll start to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of evidence management on and

I outlined my idea of evidence management in two previous articles (“Why Can’t You Get It Right?” and “Evidence Management Explained”) and got some great feedback from you. I had time to incorporate some of it into last week’s article, but if you haven’t read the feedback yet, you should (here and here).

Sorry, Randy. I’m not telegraphing FamilySearch’s plans; I can’t speak for them. I’m writing this series as a challenge to vendors, including FamilySearch. In publicly critiquing products of my employer, I walk the fine line between being helpful and being fired. You’ll notice I never criticize my employer and I never criticize its products without proposing solutions. But I digress… It’s time to walk that line.

Vendor Support for Source Tracking (the Red Boxes)

The table below shows source tracking features that are needed for good evidence management. I’m filling out parts of this table from memory. Let me know if I’ve made mistakes.

A source is a person, document, page, book, web page, or other artifact that supplies information. In the evidence management diagram, each red box represents the information stored by the genealogy website to track a source. It contains information such as a citation, a transcript, a digital image, and a link.

There are two definitions you’ll need to know for this and subsequent articles:

  • assertion – information about a person, relationship, or event. Birth date and birthplace are two examples of assertions. An assertion can exist as evidence or as a conclusion.
  • field – a square area on the computer screen where the user types in information.
Source Tracking Features
Provides digitized sources online 4 billion genealogy records Record Search, IGI, PRF, AF Indexed images of original documents
Can upload digital images Yes No Yes
Links are “hot,” that is, can be clicked to reach destination Yes Yes Yes
Citation templates for referencing offline sources One Two None?
Handles sources uniformly, whether provided, uploaded, linked, or referenced No. Four different ways: 1. provided, 2. uploaded, 3.linked, 4.  referenced Not supported: 1. provided, 2. uploaded, 3. linked No. Three different ways: 1. provided and uploaded, 2. linked, 3. referenced
Manages sources independently of assertions No No No
Supports variety of citation formats/templates for uploaded images None; put in note field Not supported None; put in description field
Transcription field Yes, but inconsistently labeled Not supported No
Annotate images Yes Not supported Yes
Corrections to provided sources Yes No Annotations?
Annotations are searchable No? Not supported No?
Corrections are searchable Yes Nut supported Ditto?



Below is an example of’s one and only citation template.

  • Because there is only one citation template, it is not possible to follow industry standards for citations.
  • Because there is only one citation template, it favors published sources even though non-published sources are more important to genealogists.
  • As does PAF, misuses the terms source and citation.
  • While links to records provided by are easily available from the assertion on the person page, links to sources are nearly inaccessible. One must open the details about an assertion, then open the source, and only then can you click the link. To’s credit, it used to be worse. Once unburied, the link used to be dead, requiring a copy and paste into a browser. (Click for a larger view.) citation format handles uploaded sources in a completely different way. Because there is no citation field, one must place it in the description field. citation for uploaded source

The New FamilySearch Tree (NFS) has a simple citation template for living memory sources and another for all other sources. As with, having only one template forces the vendor to favor published sources. The template looks like this:

New FamilySearch Tree source templateNote that there is no field for a link. Also notice that the transcription field, labeled “Actual Text,” is appallingly small. While has the annoying practice of ignoring line breaks when displaying transcriptions, FamilySearch takes the annoyance to the extreme. NFS runs together the entire citation template. As a result, the citation above is displayed in this incomprehensible format:

NFS Source Display I’m out of time. I’m back to genealogy the rest of the week. Next week I’ll move on to the heart of evidence management, the green “Evidence Box.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Take the Virtual Vault Tour

Did you miss the Verkler virtual vault tour at the recent National Genealogical Society conference? FamilySearch has placed the tour online. Click each of the images below to see the tour video for yourself (in a teeny-tiny window).

Part 1 – Touring the Granite Mountain Records Vault

Part 1, the Granite Mountain Records Vault Tour

Part 2 – Digitizing the Granite Mountain Records Vault

Part 2, Digitizing the Vault

Part 3 – The Niue Island Disaster

Part 3, Niue Island Disaster

The Granite Mountain Record Vault, by the numbers:

  • 3.5 billion images
  • 2.4 million rolls of microfilm
  • an equivalent amount of digital media
  • billions of people covered by the records
  • 100 countries
  • 170 languages

For more videos from the conference, check out the links in my review, “A Celebration of Family History.”

Monday, May 17, 2010

FamilySearch Consolidating Utah Family History Centers

The Riverton FamilySearch Library (Photo courtesy Al Hartmann/The Salt Lake Tribute)
The Riverton FamilySearch Library 
Photo courtesy Al Hartmann/The Salt Lake Tribune

FamilySearch announced last week that it is consolidating 24 family history centers in the Salt Lake Valley into a single facility in the south end of the valley. Situated between the Salt Lake Family History Library and the BYU Family History Library, the new Riverton FamilySearch Library will provide similar services more conveniently to nearby patrons. The library will be near the intersection of 13400 South and Bangerter Highway.

The library will have 127 computers, training rooms, and an auditorium. Having a larger patronage means the microfilm collection can grow larger and the library can afford subscriptions to premium websites like

Combining the pools of available volunteers makes it possible for the library to be open to the public longer and more consistently than the small centers that it replaces. More than 1,000 volunteers worked in the 24 small centers which separately suffered from sparse resources and sparse patronage. FamilySearch is interested in staffing the library with volunteers who can commit a minimum of 16 hours per week.

The 24 centers closed 30 April 2010, decreasing the number in the valley from 54 to 30. The new library is expected to open sometime in June. It occupies space in an office building belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located at 3740 West 13400 S. The Church purchased the four-story, 330,000-square foot facility from Intel Corporation back in December 2008. It also houses the Church’s computer and communications department.


Aaron Shill, “Family History Centers in Salt Lake Area Will be Consolidated,” (accessed 16 May 2010); citing Mormon Times [Deseret News], 13 May 2010, page not given.

Tom Harvey, “LDS Church Moves Computer Operations,” The Salt Lake Tribune ( : accessed 16 May 2010); print edition not cited.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Evidence Management Explained

See “Evidence Management” for an overview and links to other articles in this series.

Evidence management is hard to understand from just the diagram (below). Let me give a concrete example of how evidence management should work.

Evidence management diagramAt the NGS conference David Rencher and a team from FamilySearch did a demonstration on real-time collaboration. (It was that session that got me thinking about how close genealogy software is getting to good evidence management. But I digress…) I’m going to borrow sources from their scenario for my example of evidence management.

Example source document with annotation iconsRed Box: A Source

Sources are the red boxes in the diagram above. A red box contains a citation, a transcript and/or digital image, and sometimes a link to an online source. Of course, a red box only represents a real-world source: a document, a page in a book, an artifact, or a person.

PAF users beware: These are not the definitions of source and citation used by PAF. Instead, go back to your high school and college definitions. A source—or its original—is something or someone you can touch. A citation is something you read that tells where to find the source.

For our example, let’s consider a source document from Rencher’s presentation. The document is the administrators’ final statement in the probate file of Peyton C Clements (shown to the right).

The citation given is

Peyton C. Clements probate file no. 1952, final statement, Greene County Clerk’s Office, Eutaw, Alabama.

Rencher's team provided online links to the document on (accessible to anyone) and on (accessible to subscribers, libraries, and Family History Library patrons).

Green Box: Evidence

Evidence summaries are the green boxes in the diagram above. From the information in a document, pick out evidence about the subject and key it into the summary.

Summary name: Peyton Clements probate  
Subject: Angeline née Clements Goldsmith (Link)  
Source: Peyton C. Clements probate file …   Link Image of original
Created date: November 25th AD 1873 Primary information
Created by: W N Clements
W S Goss
Adm’rs, P. C. Clements
Primary information
Attribute Evidence Notes
Name: Angelina Angelina née Clements Goldsmith?
Gender: Female Primary information
Age: Over 21 years Primary information
Residence: Lowndes County, Ala. Primary information
Residence date: November 25th AD 1873 Primary information
Husband: W. H. Goldsmith Primary information
Principal: Peyton C Clements Father?


Enter the evidence exactly as it appears in the document. Enter only evidence that addresses the subject.

(Whether keyed that way or not, conceptually we are dealing with evidence applicable to the subject. You’ll see why later. For proficient genealogists, the subject may be a research objective rather than an individual.)

Enter notes about the evidences to aid your analyses, as shown in the final column, above.

Give each summary a name to identify it in lists and reports.

Notice in the diagram that each green box has a link going to the left and a link going to the right. These correspond with the two links in the example above.

Purple Box: A Conclusion

Evidence management aids reaching conclusions. A purple box links to evidences pertinent to that conclusion. The purple box prompts the user to analyze each piece of evidences. It captures the conclusion and invites the user to provide sound, coherently written reasoning.

For an example, consider the purple box for the birth date of our example subject, Angeline née Clements Goldsmith:

Summary Name Asser-tion Evidence Notes Created Date Link Analysis
Automatically Selected Evidence
1850 Census Peyton C Clements Age 2 Image copy of federal copy 1850 Source The earliest record; at just two years of age, it is highly likely that the 1850 census correctly implies 1848.
1860 Census P C Clements Age 12 Image copy of federal copy 1860 Source Next earliest records agrees with 1848
1870 Census P C Clements Jr. Age 18 Image copy of federal copy 1870 Source New orphans with all birth dates wrong suggests a 3rd party supplied the data
Peyton Clements probate finalized Age Over 21 years Image of original. Primary information 25 Nov 1873 Source 1848 and 1850 are consistent with father’s probate record
1880 Census W H Goldsmith Age 25 Image copy of federal copy 1880 Source Census ages ending with 0 or 5 are suspect
Death certificate A J Goldsmith Birth date 5 Feb 1850 Image copy of original. Secondary information 1939 Source There is no reason to doubt 5 February even though the 1850 is not possible according to the 1850 census
Gravestone A J Goldsmith Birth date 1850 Secondary 1939 Source Likely same informant as death certificate
Manually Selected Evidence
Marriage W H Goldsmith Marr-iage Date 15 Jan 1873 Explicit 1873 Source Birth from 1843-1858 is likely.
1850 Census Peyton C Clements Sibling Eleanor Age 1 1850 Source To have a 1 yr old younger sibling in 1850, Angeline must have been born in 1848.
Conclusion for Birth date: 5 February 1848
Reasoning: It is clear that the earliest records have the correct birth year. While there is no collaborating evidence for the day and month, there is currently no reason to doubt it.


Let me make note of several particulars:

  • A major purpose of a purple box is to gather in one place all the evidence upon which a conclusion is based. The software could be intelligent enough to automatically select all the evidence about the subject’s birth date or other assertion. (I prefer the word assertion over other terms such as event or fact.) The software should allow manual selection of other relevant evidence.
  • Now do you see why evidence must be keyed in exactly as it appears in the source? Wait until the purple box before you start making assumptions or drawing conclusions.
  • Notice the format leads the user to explain conflicting evidence.
  • Notice in this example that the conclusion is different from any of the individual evidences. It is not sufficient just to pick one as the preferred value.
  • The diagram indicates that purple boxes are supposed to link to green boxes, not red boxes. But since real world software doesn’t provide evidence summaries, I linked to sources in the above example.

Blue Box: Individuals

Conclusions roll into the assertions shown about individuals. Entering or changing a birth date or other assertion would bring up the conclusion box, leading users to enter sources and evidence summaries. Complete evidence management would take hardly more effort than is currently required without it.

Come on, genealogy companies! You guys can do this.

I’ve provided the briefest sketch of what evidence management could look like and accomplish. What do you think? What would you change or add to better implement the Genealogical Proof Standard? Assume the big genealogy companies are watching. This is your big chance to shape the future. Leave a comment by clicking the link below.

Next week I’ll talk about how astonishingly close, FamilySearch, and are to getting evidence management. And I’ll talk about what they lack. But I’m talking the remainder of this week to work on some awesome stuff from my Grandmother that digitized for me (for free!) at the NGS Conference. Love you, Grandma!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Why Can’t You Get It Right?

See “Evidence Management” for an overview and links to other articles in this series. and FamilySearch, why can’t you get it right? (That goes for pretty much everybody else, too. But per my editorial focus, I pick particularly on them. But I digress…)

Playing around with different genealogy management programs has driven home to me how very close the genealogy database vendors are getting to where they should be, but without evidence that they know where that is.

They would know where they should be headed if they…

  • attended most any of the NGS methodology classes, or
  • read chapters 1 and 2 of Evidence Explained (or even just the inside cover), or
  • read the National Genealogical Society Quarterly special Evidence issue (Sep 1999), or
  • bought an evidence analysis research process map from the Board for the Certification of Genealogists, or
  • studied the Genealogical Maturity Model.

(Notice how I worked in that shameless plug.)

To put it succinctly, genealogy programs lack Evidence Management.

Evidence Management

Genealogy programs have always managed individuals quite well. We can assign assertions (events and information) to them. We can list them. We can sort them. We can search them. We can filter them. All well and good and absolutely necessary.

Genealogy programs handle relationships adequately. Most use the concept of families as a shorthand method of dealing with an entire set of important relationships. And most allow limited assertions about child-parent relationships, such as blood, step, and adoption. (Not important for today’s discussion on evidence management, but we are also interested in non-familial relationships such as neighbor, friend, clergy, care-taker, and more. And we are interested in searching, sorting, and filtering by relationship assertions. But I digress…)

Genealogy programs have come a long way when it comes to sources, but without Evidence Management, sources remain an ugly step-sister. When it comes to evidence management, genealogy programs is exceedingly wanting.

User Scenario

Refer to this diagram as I talk through a scenario.

Evidence management diagram

Here’s how a user would use the Evidence Manager.

  • I find a source with information that I can use. That’s what evidence is: usable information. Applicable information. The answer to a question. Although as Tom Jones pointed out in one of his lectures, “it is an answer, it is not the answer.”
  • I create a source record (shown in red) to track the source.
    • I upload a digital image of the source.
    • Or I link to it online.
    • And I enter a citation.
  • I create an evidence summary (shown in green) and type in evidence from the source.
    • I link the evidence summary to the source record.
    • And I link the evidence summary to a target conclusion (shown in purple) about an individual (shown in blue)
  • I examine the accumulated evidence and adjust the value of the conclusion accordingly.
  • I update the explanation of my conclusion as necessary.

Next week I will make this more clear with an actual example. (See “Evidence Management Explained.”) In subsequent articles I will compare the diagram with member trees, the New FamilySearch Tree, and Footnote person pages.

For the time being, suffice it to say that sources and evidence and conclusions are three separate concepts and today’s software typically shoehorns the three into two. (See “Evidence: There’s No Better Rule.”)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Family Tree Maker Support For New FamilySearch

FTM2FamilyInsight On the final day of the NGS Conference, Ohana Software’s newsletter announced they are beta testing a version of FamilyInsight that supports Family Tree Maker 2010. This will give Family Tree Maker users the ability to synchronize with the New FamilySearch Tree (NFS). However, this capability would not extend NFS access beyond those who already have NFS access. According to officials from FamilySearch, a controlled rollout of NFS to the general public will begin this fall and complete in 2011.

Presumably, FamilyInsight’s Family Tree Maker support also makes it possible for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to automatically search Church temple records for individuals in Family Tree Maker files. Many major desktop genealogy programs already offer this feature, pioneered by Ohana Software’s PAF Insight program years prior to NFS. While relations between and FamilySearch remain publicly amicable, one cannot but notice that Family Tree Maker support comes from a third party.

Ohana Software also announced the beta version includes support for Ancestral Quest files and development is underway to support RootsMagic and Legacy Family Tree files.

The text of the Ohana Software announcement, in full, reads:

FamilyInsight: Adding New File Formats

We are also currently beta testing a version that will work with Family Tree Maker 2010 file and Ancestral Quest file formats. We are in development of versions that will work directly with RootsMagic and Legacy files. You will be able to use FamilyInsights Compare and Sync to compare your PAF file to your cousins RootsMagic file. You will be able to trim and save a file for your aunt that works with her program even if you use a different program.

What does this mean? Do I need to stop using PAF? This means that you can use the program that works best for your needs and still have access to FamilyInsight. If PAF is your favorite program then by all means keep using PAF 5. If you like one of the other programs then you can choose the program that is best for you. We are often asked which program is best. There is no one database manager that is the best for everyone. We do not recommend one program over another. In the future we will be offering other programs on our website, but it will still be up to you to make the choice of which program you want for your personal use. They all have their own strengths and the easiest to use for one person may not be the easiest for someone else.

We are actively searching for Mac programs to work directly with their files. Family Tree Maker has announced that they will be releasing a Mac Version and we will work with that program when it is released. We are also pursuing other Mac options to work with.

Now that Get My Ancestors is in the Tools menu of FamilyInsight, you will be able to save your Get My Ancestors file in any of the formats that FamilyInsight saves to. This is only applicable to the version that is in the tools menu of FamilyInsight. The Get My Ancestors stand alone program will only save to a PAF file.

We look forward to adding more formats in the future to FamilyInsight.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Celebration of Family History

A Celebration of Family History I mentioned yesterday that the highlight of the NGS conference for me came in the middle of

A Celebration of
Family History
Woven Generations

Welcome: Jay Verkler
Chief Executive Officer of FamilySearch

Invocation: Reverend France A. Davis
Calvary Baptist Church

Woven Generations
Film (Watch)

“Wayfarin’ Stranger”
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and The Orchestra at Temple Square
Mack Wilberg, conductor
Richard Elliott, organist
(Listen to a clip)

Henry B. Eyring
First Counselor in the First Presidency,
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

President Henry B. Eyring based much of his remarks on a circular printed in 1846 by the New England Historical and Genealogical Society stating that “the minds of men are naturally moved to know something of their progenitors.”

He went on to praise the genealogical community. “You have built and preserved a community where the mentor that helps those less skilled is revered,” Eyring said. “It is rare in history for such a community to emerge. It is rarer still for such a community to sustain itself.”

Letters from Estonia
Film (Watch)

“Morning Has Broken”
Choir and Orchestra
(Listen to a clip)

Searching for Emma
Film (Watch)

Clan McCloud
Film (Watch)

“Amazing Grace”
Choir and Orchestra
(I want to comment before giving you a link.)

David McCullough
Author and Historian

McCullough told us of his wonderful childhood where his family would gather around the dinner table and talk—talk about substantive matters.

“We should never say ‘gone, but not forgotten.’ If they are not forgotten, they are not gone. They created the society, the values, the experiences we all live by. We must not lose sight of them.”

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory
Film (Watch)

“Battle Hymn of the Republic”
Choir and Orchestra (Listen to a clip)

Conference Highlight

So what was the high point of the conference for me? “Amazing Grace.”

In the video that proceeded it, “Clan McCloud,” a father of Scottish descent related the story of his son, Jared. At age seven Jared announced his desire to learn to play the bagpipes.

“If you’ve ever heard bagpipes in a confined space, you’ll know why we’ve created basements,” quipped Jared’s father. As a result of Jared’s interest in his Scottish roots, and despite the cacophony, the entire family reconnected with their Scottish heritage.

And Jared did, eventually, learn to play the bagpipes, as we can attest. For as the lights came up, there was Jared and three additional pipers, standing amidst the choir. The sad, soulful strains of the pipes filtered through the large hall like the mournful cries of the lost.

In its turn, as if falling into the march behind the pipers, the orchestra joined in, soothing the cries of the pipes with hope that dangers, toils, and fears could be relieved.

As the men of the choir joined the march, we heard in words our hopes secured: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…”

Then the women added a descant, lifting us heavenward. “The Lord has promised good to me…”

Now all in unison. “…I shall possess within the veil, a life of joy and peace.”

Finally in full voice with majestic orchestration: “…Bright shining as the sun. We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise…”

Surely God was in the moment. It is never to be forgotten.

(Watch on YouTube)

Monday, May 3, 2010

NGS Conference Highlights: Part 1 of a Hundred or So

For me, the zenith of the conference came in the middle of "A Celebration of Family History" Gosh, I have so much to tell you. Oh, by the way: hello, I’m back. After two weeks of nose to the grindstone preparing for the conference, I’m going to have time to write again.

The 2010 NGS Conference was everything I hoped it would be and more! There were differences from my expectations, to be sure. I attended fewer classes and spent more time in the exhibits. And the banquets and luncheons proved to be very nearly, for me, the highlight of the conference.

But the zenith of the four day conference for me coincided with its midpoint. Between days 2 and 3, Thursday evening, my wife and I attended A Celebration of Family History. To understand why a musical number by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in the middle of the program was the highlight, rather than the finale, I have to give you some background.

Sorry; my wife says it’s time for bed. I’ll continue tomorrow. Can’t wait? Watch this video:

Or click this link to watch it online.