Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Feeding and Pruning my Genealogy Database

Every genealogy database needs to be fed new information from time to time, and every database needs to be pruned from time to time.  Both stimulate new growth.

I was curious as to how much I had added in the past six months, since I've been working on adding content and sources, especially from Find-a-Grave and the Social Security Death Index.  I've been keeping track of my progress month-by-month, and thought my readers might be interested in my progress.

At the end of August 2011, RootsMagic told me that I had:

*  41,280 persons
*  16,294 families
*  107,784 events
*  4,827 places
*  681 sources
*  22,652 citations

At the end of February 2012 (six months later), RootsMagic told me that I had:

* 41,478 persons 
* 16,479 families 
* 109,453 events 
* 5,086 places 
* 744 sources 
* 26,649 citations 

As you can see, I've added 198 persons, 185 families, 2,669 events, 259 places, 63 sources, and 3,997 citations.  You can see where my emphasis has been.  I still have many more events that source citations, but the ratio has improved noticeably over the past six months.  The bad news is that at the rate I'm going, it will take about 15 years to get to a ratio of 1.0.  

During these six months, I have been:

*  Adding content (names dates, places, notes, sources and citations) from my new research (online or in repositories - I had a trip to Wisconsin, and researched at Allen County Public Library and the Family History Library during this period).  In addition, I created a "to-be-entered" pile of paper (from earlier research endeavors) about six months ago, and have been working my way down that pile.  The "to be filed" pile has been growing!   Lastly, I've been adding the blog content from Amanuensis Monday and Treasure Chest Thursday posts to the database.

*  Adding content by "mining" the Social Security Death Index, Find-a-Grave, and a number of newly added databases on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch, especially for the Seaver, Carringer, Auble and Vaux surnames.

*  Finding information for persons in my database, for whom I have no birth, marriage or death dates, by using online resources (especially the Massachusetts Vital Records on American Ancestors, U.S. census records on Ancestry.com, and online Ancestry Member Trees or Rootsweb WorldConnect trees).  Many of these persons with no data are spouses of siblings, or parents of the spouses of siblings, of my ancestors or of Seaver persons, which I obtained from records.  I have the attitude that derivative source information is better than no information at all.  I would like to have some information about every person in my database.

*  Eliminating isolated couples from the database if they are unrelated to my interests.  I have many Wiltshire couples (one of them a Richman), without parents or children, in my database because I put them there based on Wiltshire marriage records found in parish registers for 1600 to 1850.  These marriages are the only record I've found for these people and I decided that they aren't doing me, or anyone else, any good hanging around in the database. So I pruned them.

*  Eliminating living persons from the database for families that I am not actively researching.  I combined a number of trees into one larger database about two years ago, and there are quite a few living persons for whom I do not have birth, marriage or death dates or places, so I'm deleting the most recent generations; generally, this is persons born after 1930 or so.  This has limited the number of persons added to the database - since I'm both adding and pruning.

This is "fun" work because I am doing detective work and improving my database as I progress.  I spent about three hours on Monday afternoon doing this, and I usually spend one or two hours a night (since it's not baseball season yet) doing the data mining.  Of course, I could be organizing more surname notebooks, or filing papers, or weeding out the 40 linear feet of dead trees on my bookcases, but that's not near as much fun!

I don't have any great master plan for doing many of these activities - I kind of jump around in the database index and pick a family or a specific person to see what I can find out about them, or if I can delete them.

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2012/03/feeding-and-pruning-my-genealogy.html

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver


Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

Congratulations on having a worthy goal and making progress toward it... Those are the most important things. One opinion. Keep up the good work - and, sharing so we can each be inspired to do our own 'things' as well. ;-)

Lauri said...

Love the article. I have been trying to better track my progress and your benchmarks are good. My database isn't nearly as large, but for now it is large enough to try to clean up. Love your blog.