Research Logs

Do you have one task that ‘genealogy experts’ recommend that you just don’t seem to be able to tackle? For me, that tends to be a research log.

Even though I have a ‘research log’ from my early days of research, I haven’t been consistent with keeping that log — especially with Internet searching. And, I really could use a comprehensive research log now!

I have the opportunity to apply for a ‘brick wall’ consultation at the upcoming Topeka Genealogical Society conference in April. As part of that application, I need to submit a list of sources already checked. With forty years of research and a lot of same name issues, I could really use a complete research log!

For this application, I am going to submit James Crawford (1772-1854) of Preble County, Ohio as my brick wall ancestor. James married Sally Duggins in 1799 in Garrard County, Kentucky before migrating to Ohio by the early 1800s. The research question I would like assistance with is “Who is James Crawford’s father?

Seems simple enough, right. Unfortunately, there are a lot of same name issues with researching this ancestor.

  1. Next door neighbor in Preble County, Ohio was James Crawford (1770-1833) who married Martha Knight in 1793 in Lincoln County, KY. This James Crawford migrated from Preble County, OH to Warren County, IN where he died. Also migrating to Warren County, IN from Preble County, OH at about the same time was Nelson G. Crawford, the son of James and Sally (Smith Duggins) Crawford.
  2. There is a third James Crawford (1758-1836) living in Madison and Garrard counties in Kentucky prior to 1800. This James Crawford was married to Rebecca Anderson and migrated to Jennings County, IN and then to Jefferson County, IN.
  3. Garrard County KY histories refer to a Rev. James Crawford. There was a Rev. James Crawford (1752/3 – 1803) at Walnut Hill Presbyterian Church in Fayette County, KY. Rev. James Crawford was married to Rebecca McPheeters.
  4. DAR applications by descendants of James Crawford and Rebecca Anderson appear to have records mixed up with a James Crawford (1757-1836) who resided in Fleming County, KY. This James Crawford was married to Sarah Vansant.

So, I not only need to identify sources I’ve checked for James and Sally (Duggins) Crawford, but also sources I’ve checked for all of these other James Crawfords.

To start re-creating such a research log, I used RootsMagic to print an individual summary report, complete with bibliography for each of these James Crawfords. I then copied the bibliography entries into Notepad where I could remove the leading punctuation and clean up any other errors.

bibliography

From Notepad, I copied the entries into Excel. Since there were blank lines between each bibliography entry, those blank lines copied over to Excel. To eliminate the blank lines, I sorted by the bibliography column. This pushed all of the blank lines to the bottom of the list.

excelbibentries

Unfortunately, that only gets sources that I’ve cited in RootsMagic. I had drawers full of research that would need to be added to this list of sources used. Fortunately, I have scanned most of that research. Unfortunately, I named the scanned files with the Dollarhide code I used to file the paperwork.

scannedimages

Since the code was part of my citations in Master Genealogist, I can find the paperwork when working from a source in my program. However, these file names don’t tell me where I got the information in each of those files. When I open the file, it is usually a handwritten document (remember my research is up to 40 years old).

oldnotes

Unfortunately, I don’t have a full citation on these old notes. However, I usually have a fairly accurate title. When I started working my way thru my Ohio notes, I was just Googling the title. Part way thru, I realized that I could probably find the information faster using WorldCat.

worldcat

In some cases, I didn’t have enough of the title to find it via WorldCat. In those situations, I used the FamilySearch catalog and searched for the place associated with the resource. Then I drilled down to the type of information (history, tax, deeds, probate, etc.).

familysearchbibSo far, I’ve been able to find the bibliographic information thru either WorldCat or FamilySearch. This bibliography information was added to my Excel spreadsheet along with the filing code.

excelbibohio

In the process, I also took the opportunity to change the file name so that it included an abbreviated version of the title of the resource.

filenameschanged

In some cases, these files were actual copies of records. In those cases, I changed the file name to indicate the type and source of the record.

filenamerecords

Yesterday, I managed to make it thru the process of identifying and renaming my Ohio files for Crawford. However, I still need to do my Kentucky files and my Virginia files. Since I have done some FAN club research, I should also add the files for Duggins and Sellers along with the bibliographies for the females appearing on the early Kentucky tax lists: Rebecca Crawford and Mary Crawford.

Lesson learned:

Use better file names

Keep a research log!

 

 

 

Analyzing Sources

I recently have been working on a ‘go over’ for my 2nd great grandfather, George Mentzer. In the process, I utilized Scrivener. I had probably heard about Scrivener, but when I saw it mentioned in the recent Twitter #genchat, I decided to try it. In the process of learning more about Scrivener and genealogy, I discovered Lisa Alzo’s Ancestor Profile Template along with her 25 Genealogist Hacks Every Genealogist Should Know.

I haven’t used my George Mentzer Scrivener project to write his biography (yet). However, I have used it to transcribe the various documents I’ve collected over the years.  My research folder contains the actual document files.

SResearchCork480

I then used the dual screen option to transcribe the documents. I placed the transcriptions in my ‘draft’ folder.

SDraftCork480

I discovered that I could copy/paste the footnote for the document from RootsMagic into the +fn box on Scrivener.

TranscriptionFN480

As I proceeded thru transcribing various records, I also worked on the corresponding events in RM. I copied/pasted the transcription from my Scrivener project into the details. In the process, I also verified other details for the event such as the date.

MentzerDetails480

Now, I have the various events in RM with the corresponding documentation. Since various documents cited differing dates for an event, I unfortunately have multiple dates for the same event.

Mentzerdates480

Since this makes for a very messy report, I turned to the RootsMagic Facebook group to see how others handled this issue. One proposed solution involved selecting one date as the ‘official’ date and marking that ‘primary’ while marking the other dates ‘private’. This solution will ‘clean up’ a narrative report if hidden facts are not included. However, said report would not include the sources for those hidden facts. Thus, others would not be aware of the conflicting data.

Another solution was in a post by Dan Mohn where he discussed his solution for dealing with multiple birth dates. In his blog post, “Grandpa Joe Smith Was Born on __.” Are You Sure?, he discusses the issue and the ‘solution’ he is adopting. Dan is using the Note field for the event to discuss the discrepancy between records.

In a comment by Gina Gaulco to a post by Patrice Houck Schadt regarding the use of Alternate Dates, Gina explains her use of her custom ‘Analysis’ source. In the Analysis Source, Gina writes out her analysis of the various sources and places it in the ‘details’ for that source.

I checked the report options in RM to see if it would be possible to include either the notes or the source detail text in a narrative report and/or an individual summary report. On the main screen to generate a report, there is an option to print the notes.

rmNotes480

On the Source settings for the report, there are options to ‘print research notes’ and ‘print detail comments’.

Rmsource480

Thus, it is possible to include a research analysis in a printed report. Since I place the transcription of a source in the details for that source, I checked Ancestry to see whether that detail text was transmitted to Ancestry via TreeShare. By clicking on one of my sources from outside of Ancestry, I found that the detail text does transfer — but the line breaks are removed affecting the formatting of the text on the Ancestry side.

AncestryDetail480

I will have to experiment with putting an analysis in the event Notes to see how TreeShare handles the transfer of formatted text in a Note.

In the meantime, I need to write an analysis of the data for several events. This, too, will be a learning curve. Wish me luck!