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How detailed are your facts


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#1 draydev1

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Posted 02 April 2017 - 02:40 PM

I was wondering just how detailed any one gets with their facts.  Not with ancestors but with yourself, children, or immediate family.  Let me explain.

 

For most of us, we know the most information about ourselves and immediate family.  I'm retired military so multiple residences and multiple schools for my kids creates multiple facts.  I also grew up moving around with my parents, so again multiple residences/multiple schools. 

 

Most of my ancestors, the information I have is birth, marriage, death, census', and a few residences.  But for myself, I have anywhere from 20-30 facts alone if I enter every residence, school, military assignment, birth, marriage, etc.  For my boys, I decided to create custom school facts - !K-8, !High School, and !College.  The residences are listed individually but I combined the schools attended into the custom school facts.

 

What I'm looking for, I guess, is how much information is too much or too detailed? Do you enter everything you possibly can? Of course, I know the answer is "enter everything and leave no stone unturned" but is it better to be detailed or maybe group some things together, like I did with the boys school information.  And, yes, I know it's whatever works for me, but I'd like to know what others are doing.

 

Thanks,  Kim

 

 



#2 Ken Funk

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Posted 02 April 2017 - 04:02 PM

You are likely to get a different answer from everyone who responds.  But what I do on cases similar to what you describe is to put the details into the notes.  Something like "Ken's father was in the military so he moved frequently as his father was assigned to new posts."  Then I go ahead and detail where the father was stationed and in some cases I added school info.  "Ken attended kindergarten and first grade in Norfolk, VA while his father while his father was stationed at ..... (whatever base name)".

 

There is no way I want to enter an event for every move.  Not when I can write it more as a bio.



#3 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 07:48 AM

I'm less detailed than you describe. I would suspect that there are very few individuals in my database about whom I would have such details anyway - just my immediate family. But I would certainly agree that you are likely to get a wide variety of answers. For the most part, such details as I do include end up being entered into RM's various note fields.

 

My guiding principle is that I don't have a fact unless I have a source and that I don't have a source unless I have a media file of some kind. So even if I were to include the kind of details you describe, I would be sure to have a supporting media file - perhaps even a document that is a self interview if the details were personal knowledge.

 

A possible exception where I do have a lot of details is that I record a great many city directory entries. City directories are typically published annually, and I usually get city directory entries for each year that is available. Using RM in this fashion can create a lot of facts. Such facts often don't change much if any from year to year, and they can have the effect of cluttering up narrative reports without creating much of a narrative. Nevertheless, such facts have the implicit effect of creating sort of a "narrative", giving a picture of where someone worked and where they lived over time. Also, you can see children coming of age, often being listed at the same address as their parents when they first start taking jobs. So I tend to think that the value of the information outweighs the messiness of the clutter.

 

Jerry

 



#4 KFN

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 01:43 PM

To better answer this question for yourself I would ask:  Who will your primary viewer of the information be? 

1) Immediate to Extended family for a reunion? 

2) General public (website) where you are looking to colaborate with others, but dont want to leave too much out there for strangers. 

3) Historians interested in Historical rather than recent events.

 

Each of these in my mind have different viewpoints and needs:

 

Immediate and extended family at a reunion would probably love to share all of their accomplishments and facts with each other as a way of catching up.  Kind of like the annual Christmas/New Year email or letter we all seam to get.

General Public on the web should keep stuff to a minimum (even with good security) Birth, Death, Residence Location, Maybe Schooling or occupation.

Historians may want a little more than noted for the general public above. Remember here that any books/reports you publish may be read by someone 50 or 100 years from now so they would be interest in the same facts you are interest in about 100 year old relatives.

I generally take the Historian's approach. I'm not into recording for anyone birth weight or grade school stuff.  I may include important health things like diseases, and definitely occupation, schooling, property, war/military.



#5 dmossfritch

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 03:03 PM

Kim,

 

I retired from the US Army in 1983. During my career I retained one copy of each order (transfer, temporary duty, award, commendation, letter, school, MOS change, etc). Add to that residences, jobs, education, etc before and since retiring. Yes, all that information is included in the facts/events listing of my life, along with notes associated with those events. All this information defines my 'personal history'.

 

Having copies of my military records proved beneficial while I was still on active duty too. Every hear of the Federal records center fire in Kansas City during the 1970s? That was well before the practice of electronic records, or even microfiche that was begun in 1979 by the military. Seems my entire official personnel file - maintained by the Army for advanced schooling and promotions - was destroyed in that fire. It took a bit of persuasion, however my copies were accepted (400+ records) to rebuild that official file and directly resulted in my final promotion before retirement.



#6 Mike Morrell

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Posted 05 April 2017 - 05:16 PM

Hi Kim,

 

I'm still very much a beginner so I'm still on a steep learning curve about 'best practices' in research, workflow, the Genealogical Proof Standard, organizing data, citing sources, etc.  

 

Of all the things I've learned recently, two key points have really stuck:

 

1. Most of us do research to discover our possible ancestors and other people related to them. Initially, possible ancestors we discover are (alternative) 'hypotheses', each of which may or may not be 'proven' based on the conclusions we draw from our research. During our research, we collect 'facts' that support or conflict with our hypotheses. Each 'fact' is based on 'evidence' (records, interviews, personal knowledge, etc.). c24m48's response makes sense to me. Without evidence, there is no fact. How many facts do we need? That probably depends on what we need to know to 'prove' or 'disprove' our hypotheses with a high degree of confidence. The Genealogical Proof Standard gives guidelines. For the first couple of generations 'personal knowledge' (as evidence of a fact) is often sufficient. Any 'fact' (or evidence) that doesn't contribute to our conclusion is irrelevant for this point.

 

2. A number of genealogy websites (my sources were 2012 articles from http://www.tamurajones.net) point out the danger of propagating 'insufficiently substantiated' (and possible erroneous) data through family tree-sharing websites. These days, it's so easy to include data from other family trees or 'hints' that at first sight seems to fit. Many of us don't bother to check how well-researched the data is that we're including in our family tree. We just assume that Ancesty, Familysearch, MyHeritage, etc. are providing the best  'hints'. Tamura Jones's key point in her 2012 blogs is that we we all have the responsibility to verify the 'facts', supporting evidence and our conclusions before sharing our data with others via internet.

 

I understand the need for dry facts, supporting/conflicting evidence and research 'conclusions'. But personally, I welcome any stories (in notes, media, links) that gives me a sense of who a person was (or family were) and when, where and how they lived. These stories are often not immediately obvious from the the dry facts. From personal knowledge or research, it's sometimes possible to build up a picture of how the different facts relate to the person's or family's life. 

A personal example: 

I have residence facts for my mother, father and grandmothers over many years. The background story is that my father moved in with my mother (who still lived with my grandmother) because they couldn't buy their own house. They never  moved out.

I have 3 separate residence facts for my mother. The background story is that she lived most of her life in her childhood home (my father moved in). She later moved house when my father (and grandmother) died in the same year. Some years later, she moved again to a nursing home after suffering a stroke.

 

The facts are just the facts. They are necessary to support (or conflict with) research hypotheses and justify a conclusion. But they don't tell the whole story. The story is often based on personal knowledge (of people who knew the person/family) or on 'synthesizing' numerous  facts. The story gives the background and context to the facts and brings the person/family to life.

 

So one question is how detailed the 'story' needs to be? Other members have rightly pointed out that it depends on who the audience is. One audience I'd like to add is 'future researchers'. In this digital age, everything we write down now will be available hundreds and thousands of years into the future. So the detail of the 'story' depends IMHO on how you, your family and your ancestors would like to be remembered in the distant future. In addition to the ' dry facts' about my ancestors, I intend to try and summarize their life story as far as possible. I still need to figure out where to put this in M7 ;)

 

Mike



#7 JimDavis79

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Posted 06 April 2017 - 07:32 AM

Kim, I'm retired Navy, and come from a long line of citizen-Sailors.  A few soldiers, but we always forgive them.  I've gotten copies of service records from the military records center and gone through them thoroughly.  I generally put together a spreadsheet for every piece of paper and its date, then sort by date to form a chronology.  I then selectively put facts into genealogy databases.

 

I've found several needs for detailed factual history for genealogy purposes, such as figuring out how a cousin was able to host an aunt at a surprising location.  One grandfather was at Pearl Harbor, but never spoke about his time island-hopping in the South Pacific.  My step-grandfather was supposedly also at Pearl Harbor, and only the military records prove the simultaneity with the first grandfather.  First grandfather met and married grandmother in the Canal Zone in the 1930s when he was stationed there, and the marriage info in the service record (change in dependents) gave a clue to the history of the grandmother (US address after her return from the CZ).  The other birth grandfather's service record is what proved how he got from NY to DC in the 1920s.  Military records of the Civil, 1812 and Revolutionary wars provide essential detail.  More recently, that detailed history of my own residences was needed for security clearances and my children have needed the history for various reasons..

 

So, be as detailed as you like in your genealogy software, but you should keep the entire record somewhere.


Best regards, Jim

"When you shake my family tree, nuts fall out."


#8 draydev1

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Posted 06 April 2017 - 04:57 PM

You have all given me some things to think about.  As far as proof of all of the military moves and moving as a child every 3-4 years, I am the proof, but I do have copies of military orders and residence, school documents, etc.  I think I'm going to just continue being as detailed as I have been.  Things can be combined when I write up the narratives.  Thank you all so much for your help. 



#9 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 07 April 2017 - 09:33 AM

I am the proof, ...

 

I have wondered a great deal about this very issue. For example, 100 years from now what is going to be the evidence for my parents, my spouse, my children, and dates and places for various of my events? Right now, I am the evidence. But I try to get actual documents - birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc. - even for myself.

 

Jerry



#10 draydev1

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 03:45 PM

You're absolutely right Jerry, and we hear all the time how family "stories and information" gets proven wrong, especially when no documents can back it up.  I do have the documents to back it up and I'm steadily adding those in.

 

I think my original question came about in looking at my database with a long list of facts, not only for my husband and I individually, but also each of my kids.  Did I really want that long list of facts, or would it be better to group things together.  In the end, it's how I present the information, really.  The narrative that I type out will be more of a summary instead of boring sentences such as:  He was born...., He went to this school..., He went to that school..., and that school, and that one, and so on.

 

Kim



#11 John_of_Ross_County

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 05:05 PM

I was lucky to have a distant relative provide a CD-R with hundreds of pages of transcribed letters in Word format.  These letters dated from the Civil War to about 1890.  I created a new Letter Fact and individually extracted the Word text for many of the letters, pasted it into Wordpad, copied it again, and pasted the resulting text into the dated RM note for the person who wrote the letter.  Since you can turn the particulars of the Letter Fact on or off, you can adjust how much detail would be printed in a report.

 



#12 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 08:43 PM

I don't actually have a Letter Fact, but I have many user-defined fact types that function in a similar fashion. The  primary reason is the same as John_of_Ross_County's reason. Namely, each of my user-defined fact types can be turned on or off in narrative reports depending on the needs for the particular report. But come to think about it, a Letter Fact seems like a really good idea.

 

Jerry



#13 KFN

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 09:10 PM

Since I have a significant number of artist people in my family tree, I have a custom fact of "art", with sub tags "types" ranging from, painting to buildings to music to poetry to books. Each subtype then allows me to have pictures of the works or text from the works.