In the New FamilySearch tree, records
are combined into folders from which
summary values are selected. Image
courtesy: FamilySearch International.
See “Evidence Management” for an overview of this series and for links to other articles.
Vendor Support of Evidence Summaries
Each vendor has some features that tantalizingly approach evidence summaries.
The new FamilySearch Tree is close. Evidence summaries are placed into a folder for an individual from which users choose a conclusion (they call it a summary value). FamilySearch is the current technology leader. But then they preloaded evidence summaries with oodles of worthless, source-less, secondary informational, derivative sources: Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File, and user-submissions to the International Genealogical Index. This, in turn, generated IOUSs, which in turn crashed their servers. Further, they surfaced none of an evidence summary’s usefulness to users. Consequently, they see no advantage to their technology leadership.
FamilySearch has announced their intent to separate artifacts from individuals. This moves them in the right direction. But because their technological advance has given them nothing but problems, they will be tempted to abandon it entirely. Keep your fingers crossed.
Footnote is perhaps closest. They have created evidence summaries for individuals mentioned in collections such as the Social Security Death Index and the 1930 Census. They have created person pages that allow users to store conclusions. However, they have positioned the two kinds of pages as equivalent. Consequently, users are frustrated because there is no ability to combine the two.
Footnote should slap an “Evidence Summary” moniker on their evidence summary person pages. And they need the ability to attach an evidence summary to a user contributed person page in such a way that the person page inherits evidence from the evidence summary. Inheritance also allows users to inherit from other users’ person pages. This allows users to share their contributions without worry that other users will modify their pages.
|Evidence summary stores abstracted evidence separately from conclusions||No|| |
Yes. The NFS tree documentation uses the terms record, folder, and summary to explain the evidence summary (green box), individual (blue box), and conclusion (purple box), respectively. All a person's records are placed (combined) into their folder and users choose a summary value when conflicts exist.
No for user contributions. No distinction is made between records and folders.
|Yes-ish. Duplicate person pages come close, but there is no concept of an evidence summary person page versus a conclusion person page.|
|Evidence summary stores abstracted evidence separately from sources||Yes-ish for provided sources.||Yes for preloaded.||Yes|
|Each piece of evidence in a summary is categorized by the assertion type (e.g. name, gender, age, birth date, birth place, marriage date, place, death date, place, burial date, place, and so forth)||No||Yes for preloaded.||Yes|
|User can view and work with an entire evidence summary||No||Yes when combining or separating records.||No|
|User can give descriptive name to an evidence summary||No||No||No|
|Can generate a list of evidence summaries||No||No||No|
|Can sort and filter lists by name, subject, source, evidence creation date, informant, evidentiary weight, etc.||No||No||No|
|Evidence summary is linked to source (entry)||No||Yes for preloaded.||Yes|
|User can characterize evidence as primary information or secondary information, supporting or conflicting, direct or indirect.||No||No|| |
|User can enter notes about a piece of evidence||No||No||Yes-ish|