Part 1: How do you keep track of information that does not yet rise to a level of “proof”?

I thought it might be interesting to you to hear how i work with my data and the sequence of thought.

When I do the data gathering, I am continuously entering information into my database; I do not hold information for later entry.  In my personal research I trace all children, their spouses and their children.  If we have a gene in common, I will work the line.  That theory means I do not trace ancestors of people who marry into the family, but I do trace descendants.  Since I have 11K people in my database using the above theory, I am going to stick with it.  I am not interested in “people collecting” as some are.

I use my software program to handle “work in progress”, particularly if I am faced with indirect evidence that is just not conclusive.  I will gather snippets of information and enter it into the database.   Some examples are:  people I think might be related but I need more evidence; people who I think are mine that show up in the US and I didn’t think they immigrated etc. etc.

To keep these types of investigations clear and in front of me when I want them to be, I use a tag system based on scientific inquiry.  I have tags for “Research Hypothesis”, “Research Notes”, “Research Conclusion” and “Research Records Not Found”.  I use the Hypothesis tag if I can imagine a scenario but I just do not have time to do any investigation.  I change the Hypothesis tag to Research Notes and enter what I have done, if I do any work on it and I have not come to a conclusion.  As soon as I have a conclusion….either yes, I hypothesized correctly or no, I didn’t, I change the tag to Research Conclusion and enter my proof.  I keep this tag.  Research Record not Found will continue be used when, for example, I cannot find them in the census after going through the pages the old fashioned way.  That way I do not go looking for it again.

This system has really worked for me.  What system to you use to keep track of work in progress but suspended, or conclusions reached?

Happy Hunting!


what I have done since the last post:  Progress!  I have written 2500 words on the Jens T. Dahle lineage.  I decided the footnote process was getting in the way of a smooth narrative.  So I am writing, based on the information I have.  I will then go back and add footnotes or change what I have written to align with the information I have.  I also got a great book “Civil War Nurse: The Diary and Letters of Hannah Ropes”.  this woman was a true ground breaker in the hospitals of the Civil War and died for her endeavors in 1863.  This might form a backbone of my class project.  I’ll keep you informed.


2 comments on “Part 1: How do you keep track of information that does not yet rise to a level of “proof”?

  1. Kim von Aspern-Parker says:

    Hi Jill, I have been reading your blog with interest. I am in the process of getting my ducks in line to begin the work on my CG. I confess, I have been very unorganized up to this point. But, your blog has inspired me. What data base program are you using? RootsMagic, Legacy, Master Genealogist? Keep up the good work. You rock.

    • jkmorelli says:

      Glad you are getting inspired! And thanks for the encouragement. I use The Master Genealogist, but I am not sure it matters as long as you can cite your sources within the program. I love it but it has a steep learning curve.

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