Monday, August 27, 2012

More on Sourcing Names and Relationships

In my post Do You Source Your Person's Name? Spouses? Parents? (posted 23 August 2012) I received quite a few helpful comments, and wanted to have a separate follow-up post about it.  Since I wrote my post, I've done quite a bit of sourcing names, spousal relationships and parent-child relationship. 

Some of the helpful comments:

1)  Jenny Lanctot said:

"I never really thought about it until I read your post, but I do source the names of individuals IF I discover them BECAUSE of a source (like if I don't know all the names of the children until I look at the census record, or church record, etc.), but now that I think about it, there are probably a LOT of names in my tree that aren't sourced. I'm starting to wish you had thought about this 20 years ago too! :)"

2)  Elyse Doerflinger said:

"I don't source a name UNLESS it is in the case where a name changed (like with immigrants that Americanize their names) or for women that marry a ton of times and therefore, their names change regularly. This is really for my own sanity - because I need it to be clear when a person's name changes.

"In the notes section for an individual, I often add where I got the names of the parents or my reasoning for it.  My goal is just to be able to figure out where I got the information from so I don't have to go searching for it a thousand times. If I have a birth record for an individual, I can bet that the parental information is on it and therefore, rather than going through the trouble of entering into the notes and such."

3)  GenealogyDoug said:

"I enter and attach the source information to every name variation in Legacy's Alternate Names. That way I can tell which record provided that information. Otherwise how would I know where I found: Elizabeth BROECKER; Elesabit MELTHINE; Mrs. Edward BROECKER; Elisabeth WILLIAM; Mrs. Henry BROECKER; or Elizabeth H. MELLENTHINE - all refering to the same woman? For my own purposes I try to identify the full baptismal name of each person and that is what I put in the given name field of my Legacy software. Ultimately when writing about an ancestor I'll use the name by which they were most commonly known, often the name that appears with their death records."

4)  Tonia said:

"I source both names and the sources that I used to connect the individual to their parents. I use the "Note" for the person's Name in RootsMagic and divide it into two sections:

"Name: here I put all the name variations I've found and a brief name for the source (the full source citation is in the source field)

"Connection to parents: here I put each source that I'm using to identify this person as a child of these parents, again with a brief name for the source."

5)  Russ Worthington said:

"I Cite the Name as it was recorded in the source where I found the person. I have many people with many Name FACTS. It reminds be what that source said.

"As to relationships: as you know, not every genealogy database management programs have the ability to put a citation on a relationship, or, there isn't a relationship "fact". But since this IS clearly an issue, I use Fact NOTES to record what that source said the relationship was in that document / record.

"I guess I was lucky, I started citing all facts with citations, so that hasn't been an issue for me. I think it also helps, because I have always gone by my middle name, as did my grandfather. I have found my grandfather listed 6 different ways. So, if I look at the citation for one of those specific listings, I know what I will find in the source document.

"Both of these items, citing names and relationships, were very helpful for me in a case study I did last summer, using Inferential Genealogy."

6)  Debbie Parker Wayne said:

"Randy, I do source names and relationships, but not using the mechanism provided by my software program. I don't source common nicknames like Ben or Benny for Benjamin other than recording the name used on the document in the source citation. 

"Before using a name or relationship source mechanism in a software program, I would print several reports with different options to determine how the data prints and how hard it is to modify or delete. I want an option to enable or disable the inclusion of these sources in output. Depending on the purpose of the output report, I may or may not want to include these sources. 

"I try to think about how I will use the database as a research tool for evidence analysis, how I will use the output from the database, and how the data might transfer to a new database as I determine how best to input the data. For my model, I look at how things are handled in articles in scholarly journals and try to get similar output from my software to reduce the manual modifications needed before sharing or publishing. I don't give GEDCOM files or copies of my database to others."

7)  Denise Spurlock said:

"Randy, I do source names; I record the source where I first find mention of the person. I don't always record and source alternates, depends on how unique the alternate is. I don't always remember to source the parental relationship. 

"The basic premise that every fact should be sourced is one that I try to follow. That being said, name and parental relationship are the ones I am most likely to miss!"

8)  Beth Benko said:

"Randy, I always source names and parental relationships. Geoff has taught me well! I recently applied for a lineage society (Settlers and Builders of Hamilton County (Ohio)) and having the sources for parents was absolutely essential."

9)  Barbara Renick said:

"I have been doing this in PAF notes as a tag since before PAF had source templates. Names get spelled so many different ways in different types of records, I need to know where a particular spelling came from to answer other researchers' questions or perhaps help them determine name usage for an ancestor.

"I have also been teaching people to source relationships (parent & spouse) for a long number of years and bemoaning the lack of source templates in personal genealogy databases for those relationships."

10)  GeneJ said:

"My citations do commonly reference the name as it was found in the source. It sounds like I might have more nicknames in my file than Debbie does. 

"As Debbie said, 'For my model, I look at how things are handled in articles in scholarly journals and try to get similar output from my software to reduce the manual modifications needed before sharing or publishing.'"

My comments:  Thank you all for helpful and interesting observations and discussion.  I note that at least four computer programs are in play here - RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Family Tree Maker, and Personal Ancestral File.

And we have persons who add the Name and Relationship information to Notes, and persons who add them to the Name and Relationship entries in an Edit Person window.

I have had good success attaching Source Citations in RootsMagic 5 to Names, Alternate Names, Spousal Relationships, and Parent-Child Relationships.  

One issue that I see is that the Spousal Relationship source is the same source and citation as the Marriage Fact.  So the Spousal Relationship Source seems, to me, to be redundant.  

When I attach sources to the Parent-Child Relationship, I am using any Source (Original or Derivative) that provides evidence - a Birth record, a Baptism record, a Marriage record, a Death record, a Social Security Application record, etc.  All of those are Evidence.  Of course, some of the information is primary (e.g. Birth and Baptism record) and secondary (Marriage record, Death record, etc.).  

Here is a snippet from my Parent-Child Relationship Sources for my father:

As you can see, the first two sources listed are for the Marriage itself (from the Marriage Fact for his parents), while the last three sources listed are for his Birth and for his Death (since all three records included his parents full names).  I did not include any records that listed only his mother's maiden name (like the California Birth Index).  

However, those sources show up as Sources in RootsMagic 5 for the Parent-Child relationship of Siblings for my Father, where I don't have an explicit Parent-Child Source for the Sibling.  In other words, my sources for my Father show up in the Parent-Child Relationship for his brothers and sisters.  

The same things happens for a Parents Note in RootsMagic 5 - a Note that provides information for a Person's relationship to Parents shows up in the Siblings' Parents Note as well.

I also found that I could attach a Media item in RootsMagic 5 for the Person to the Spouse and the Parents by using the "Family" Tag.

I'm going to think about this some more, since I don't like how the Parent-Child Relationship Sources and Notes work.  I will also see how these Sources transfer via GEDCOM to other programs and to an Ancestry Member Tree.  

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver


Aylarja said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aylarja said...

Since I was slow to read your original post about sourcing names and relationships, I'll comment here instead. Names - yes, definitely source those. Regarding sourcing parent-child relationships, as a Family Tree Maker user I can say that this is one of my single biggest bugaboos with the program. Even FTM 2012 provides no straightforward means of sourcing a parent-child relationship. If "fixes" anything in the recently announced extended product lifecycle of FTM 2012, adding the ability to source parent-child relationships would be the most important one in my book. And having the ability to create non-familial relationships (neighbors, shipmates, etc.) would be the next biggest to me. But I suspect the underlying database structure is probably not designed for either of these changes to be made easily.