Ruth's Genealogy

“I don't know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.” -Abraham Lincoln

My summer (and well beyond, I’m sure) is set!

On 13 Jun, DearMYRTLE posted this on her Facebook page:

My project this summer isn’t scanning. AAACK! It’s all about starting over with my RootsMagic genealogy software. It isn’t that I didn’t like my other RM database file. It’s just so confusing because older entries had everything in notes, newer entries had source citations a la Elizabeth Shown Mills’ book Evidence Explained.

That’s something that I’ve been thinking about, too. For a couple of years, actually. Why? My sources are, simply put, a mess! I know a lot more about citing sources now than I did when I first switched over to RootsMagic several years ago. I also understand better now how RootsMagic manages sources.

A couple of years ago, I tried to rework my sources/citations to adhere to Evidence Explained guidelines. To do this, I decided to rewrite all my sources by using RootsMagic’s Free Form source template. The problem with this approach is that the each citation has to be written by hand from scratch.

I quickly got bogged down and discouraged with this massive task, and soon abandoned the idea entirely.

But DearMYRTLE, you have inspired me!

Just as I have started over with this blog, I guess it’s a good time to start over with RootsMagic.

In preparation, a couple of “opportunities” have presented themselves:

  1. Can I run 2 instances of RootsMagic at the same time, in order to view the old database entries while preparing the new entries?
  2. What are my most frequently-used source types and how can I better use them when starting over?

Opportunity #1 has a simple solution. The RootsMagic software comes with its own portable app, RootsMagic To-Go. I installed the portable app on an extra USB drive and plugged it into my desktop computer, started it up, and now I have the desktop app and the portable app side-by-side on my screen, each fully viewable and editable. (I also changed the color scheme for the display of each instance, blue for the old, green for the new, just to clarify things).

Opportunity #2 took a bit of head-scratching. I looked at all the sources (several hundred!) that I used in the old database to see which needed to be combined/modified. I’m trying to improve and simplify my Source List, you see. For example, I have cited many, many databases found at I found that I have 3 different citations that all refer to the same Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976 database! What should be one source type is written 3 different ways! Hence, my problem. So I made a short list of source template to start with. RootsMagic Source Type FavoritesMost of my sources will fit into one of these types, I hope. It’s a beginning.

Another change will be the “share this fact” feature, where a single fact can be used with multiple ancestors, such as with a census enumeration. I have never liked the way the shared fact is presented, so I won’t be using that feature with the new database.

I also want to make sure that the Place List is consistent throughout, along with several other minor fixes.

As a test, I “started over” with my own Person page. After a bit of juggling, I have completed my new file. It contains only 3 source types at this time:

  • Personal Knowledge- “been there, done that”
  • Artifact, Family, privately held (by collection)- my person stuff, such as my birth certificate, marriage announcement and college diploma
  • Basic Online Template- not listed in the image to the left, but it worked out well for USGenWeb data, such as the date and file number for my divorce decree (oops, kinda forgot the gory details…)

Now, granted my personal file doesn’t contain the usual family history source items, such as census data, Civil War service records or probate files, so it was fairly simple to do over. But I am pleased with the way that it turned. The same facts are present, each documented as thoroughly as before, but my source list in cleaner, much simpler and, by using RootsMagic’s templates that have been structured with Elizabeth Shown Mills and Richard Lackey in mind, I believe the source citations are written correctly.

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