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Researching a pastoralist family in Kenya

tribe clan age group age set africa

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#1 westis

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 03:24 AM

Hi,

I'm doing research about my wife's family in Kenya. She's from northern Kenya with a largely pastoralist family history. That means almost no written family data.

I am considering using RootsMagic for my research, but I'm wondering if it's the right software for my purpose, and if I'll use it, how to enter data such as the following:
  • Tribe, clan & sub-clan. These mean a lot for family affiliation. Someone from the same clan is often referred to in a similar way as uncle/aunt.
  • Age group/age set. People don't count years in the way people to in the Western world. But very important is the age group that a person belongs to. In my context there is a new age group every 14 years, as they go through the initiation. By knowing the age group it's also possible to estimate year of birth etc.
  • Men with several wives. It's common with men to have several wives simultaneously. In reports I'd like all children to show up together, as they consider themselves brothers and sisters even if mothers are different.
  • Historical events. I'd like to connect individuals' life stories to historical events, and to add multiple stories from individuals in the family tree to a historical event. That way I can both add info about the event from external sources and see how family members experienced this event.
  • Sorting facts without knowing the year. I know I can sort by "sort date". But if I have no clue as to the years, but only the order of the facts? For example a person (or family) who has resided in different places, but I don't know when. Maybe I will get those details later, but for now I only want to sort them in order.

I've been looking at MyHeritage Family Tree Builder as well, but you might be able to convince me to use RootsMagic instead :)

Thanks,
Daniel (from Sweden, but married to a Kenyan)

#2 kbens0n

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 03:28 AM

Your best bet is to download the feature-limited trial and give it a whirl. Then come back and ask questions:

http://www.rootsmagi...Try/RootsMagic/

---
--- "GENEALOGY, n. An account of one's descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own." - Ambrose Bierce
--- "The trouble ain't what people don't know, it's what they know that ain't so." - Josh Billings
---Ô¿Ô---
K e V i N


#3 westis

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 05:17 AM

Thanks for reply. Yeah, I have looked a little bit at the limited version, although wanted to confirm with more experienced users how to go about the specific needs.

I suppose tribe, clan & age group can be added as custom fact types. A good thing is also that date & place can be left out of certain fact types where this information is not eligible.

Several wives can be entered quite easily, although only siblings from the same mother show in the family tab to the left, which makes it a bit more difficult to find half-siblings.

Historical events seems to not be editable, but I've written about this as a reply to another thread.

Sorting facts: as far as I can see, custom sorting by drag and drop or arrows is not possible?

But so far RootsMagic feels more appealing than other options that I have looked at.

#4 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 06:56 AM

Several wives can be entered quite easily, although only siblings from the same mother show in the family tab to the left, which makes it a bit more difficult to find half-siblings.


In Descendant View, all the wives and respective children will show up just fine as long as it's thae father that's in the top position of the view. If the mother is in the top position in the view, you will only see her children.

Similarly, narrative reports will be just fine as long as they start with the father. But if they start with the mother, you will only get the mother's children.

Jerry

#5 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 07:39 AM

Similarly, narrative reports will be just fine as long as they start with the father. But if they start with the mother, you will only get the mother's children.


While these situations might be more common in a pastoralist society, they also happen frequently no matter which families are being researched. For that reason, I've long wanted some sort of narrative report that would follow the "other children of the spouses" for lack of a better term. Those children are the half brothers and sisters of the people that are in a narrative report. So they are blood relatives and often are raised together. Nevertheless, they do not appear in RM's standard narrative reports. Of all the new features that I wish RM would add, this would be my personal #1 priority.

Jerry

#6 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 07:44 AM

Sorting facts: as far as I can see, custom sorting by drag and drop or arrows is not possible?


Correct.

You have to specifiy sort dates to coerce events into the correct order. The sort dates do not appear in reports. I always try to use real dates as sort dates, but you could even make up any dates you wanted as long as they sort in the correct order.

Jerry

#7 Laura

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 09:54 AM

These are some of my ideas of how you might set up the database in the purchased version. You would want to experiment to see what works best for you.
Tribe, clan & subclan. You could create a person(s), [Tribe name, using the tribes name]. If there are different tribe names, link them to a person, All tribes, as children. Then create clans as children of Tribe and Sub clans as the children of the different clans.
All tribes (if needed)
Tribe
Clan
Sub Clan
Parents
Children

Age group/age set. You could perhaps create a user defined fact, Age group, with the description enabled. Enter a generation number in the description. Maybe also enable the date and enter a range of dates in the date. You would have to decide if tribe, sub tribes, orlan would be generation 1 and figure 14 years for each generation fom that person to the person you are entering. Counting the generations down from !st generation on the Pedogree view would give you the generations.

Men with several wives. You can link multiple parents to a child. Link the multiple spouses to the father. Link all his children to all his spouses and himself. However, the children will be printed multiple times in a Descendent's or Narritave report under each spouse if the father is the focus person for the report. Another solution could be to share the birth of the child with all the wives. Role for the shared fact could be Stepchild. This would show the child's birth on rt dates. That is what the sort dates are for.Tthe Timeline view and Narrative report in the wives' individual facts.

Historical facts. Create a user defined fact, Historical. Enable the date and place and description. Enter the date and place with the name of the historical event in the description. Put any notes on what happened to that person n the fact note. Or, you could use the program defined Miscellanous fact.

Sort dates. The sort dates are for arranging the fact in the order you want them. That is their only purpose. You can enter any sort date regardless of the date or no date in the Date field. You could even sort each fact as 1 or 2 or 3, etc. if desired.

#8 westis

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 01:17 PM

These are some of my ideas of how you might set up the database in the purchased version. You would want to experiment to see what works best for you.
Tribe, clan & subclan. You could create a person(s), [Tribe name, using the tribes name]. If there are different tribe names, link them to a person, All tribes, as children. Then create clans as children of Tribe and Sub clans as the children of the different clans.
All tribes (if needed)
Tribe
Clan
Sub Clan
Parents
Children


Thanks a lot for a well thought-out answer. I'm trying to grasp what you are saying, but have some questions to help me better understand.

You mean [all tribes] as the "roots person"? And then going back in "generations" with tribes being children of [all tribes], clans being children of a tribe etc? Or perhaps rather the other way around, that [all tribes] is a "person" from a long time ago, with tribes, clans and sub-clans as the generations following. But then I must know how far back in time I would like to go? Or any parent that I don't know becomes sub-clan/clan, and when/if I get to know their name I move sub-clan/clan up one generation? But how can a tribe and clan then be "parent" to "children" in different parts of the tree?

Age group/age set. You could perhaps create a user defined fact, Age group, with the description enabled. Enter a generation number in the description. Maybe also enable the date and enter a range of dates in the date. You would have to decide if tribe, sub tribes, orlan would be generation 1 and figure 14 years for each generation fom that person to the person you are entering. Counting the generations down from !st generation on the Pedogree view would give you the generations.


"Generation number" would be the name of the generation? In Samburu age groups are called Lmetili (initiated from 2004, Lmeoli (from 1990), Lkiroro (from 1976) etc. The year that is known to each age group is the starting year of the initiation of boys in that age group (+ 14 years until the start of the initiation of the next age group).

And each generation in the RootsMagic sense is not necessarily corresponding with the age groups. A father could have sons in several different age groups, and those sons in turn children in different age groups. So one generation as in parent-child could be anything from around 25 to 60+ years, depending on the age of the father when he got the child. But a child always belongs to the age group that is current when he's born (normally a boy is around 14-20 years old when going through the initiation together with his peers).

Perhaps I'm confusing things, but I like this idea, but only need to understand it a bit more.


Historical facts. Create a user defined fact, Historical. Enable the date and place and description. Enter the date and place with the name of the historical event in the description. Put any notes on what happened to that person n the fact note. Or, you could use the program defined Miscellanous fact.


Ok. But then several persons cannot be related to the same historical fact? In case I would like to search all who have shared experiences of a particular drought for example.


Sort dates. The sort dates are for arranging the fact in the order you want them. That is their only purpose. You can enter any sort date regardless of the date or no date in the Date field. You could even sort each fact as 1 or 2 or 3, etc. if desired.


Yeah, I will use them as "weight" (behind drag-and-drop sorting there's a number anyway), and then update the sort date in case another fact needs to be sorted in between, or if I get to know the real date.

Thanks a lot for insightful answers!

/Daniel

#9 Don Newcomb

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 06:56 AM

RM is strongly modeled on traditional western family structure and naming patterns. I think any way you try to make this fit, it will be a kludge. Tribe and clan can be added as facts but that does not form a hierarchy, nor does it link the individuals to their chiefs. While polygamy, polyandry and even same-sex marriage are supported, communal marriages are not. It is assumed that all children have two biological parents. More parents can be added but at any given time the program only follows one couple. For instance, I can think of no good way to add a "milk mother". The list of parental relationships seems to be hard-wired. You can always create a shared fact type for that but my experience with doing this to solve other problems has not worked out quite the way I intended.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any program that really does what you need.

#10 westis

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 01:55 PM

Yeah, I don't know which is the ideal way to reflect tribe, clan, age group etc. in genealogy software. But I think simply using custom facts is good enough for now. Can I create groups based on custom facts and have every person sharing the same clan as a custom fact be automatically added to that group? Then I would have what I need for now.

#11 kbens0n

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 02:06 PM

Can I create groups based on custom facts and have every person sharing the same clan as a custom fact be automatically added to that group? Then I would have what I need for now.

Unfortunately, Groups are not "dynamic" (ie. "automatically" updating). You have to re-run the selection criteria for a group afresh to allow RootsMagic to rescan the updated list of database individuals.

---
--- "GENEALOGY, n. An account of one's descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own." - Ambrose Bierce
--- "The trouble ain't what people don't know, it's what they know that ain't so." - Josh Billings
---Ô¿Ô---
K e V i N