Saturday, October 26, 2013

Data

There is a great pleasure in having data under control. It sounds geeky, but it is so. The Gorse Fox has spent a lot of time, over the years, gathering genealogical data about the family. Recent events and the availability of new information online (the 1911 Census) mean that it is time for a bit of an update.

Now, the problem that many genealogists will face is their dependence on a particular database, file format, or authoring tool. Over time the digitised information may not decay, but the tools used to save such information may be replaced as they age and are forgotten. So it is that the Gorse Fox finds himself refreshing old data - and reviewing whether it is stored in a manner with appropriate longevity.

Much of yesterday was spent extracting ancillary data from a series of old Lotus Approach databases and converting them into a flatform Excel workbook. This, in turn, may well be re-cast as a flat file in the future. For now, the Gorse Fox assumes Excel will provide sufficient longevity and so it was that once generated, he got the chance to bring it up to date with various recent events.

Most satisfying.

But since you ask, the main family database is still stored in Family Tree for Windows on the old PC (and backed up in numerous places).

So what is the ancillary data? Well, the Gorse Fox has stored many hundreds of physical documents, certificates, letters, and so forth. This ancillary data lists:

  • what documents I have
  • who is mentioned in each
  • which addresses are mentioned in each

This allows him to quickly summarise

  • what documents he has that mention great aunt Sophia
  • who lived at a particular address at a particular time
  • what birth certificates, marriage certificates, or so forth are filed
  • all of the people featured and the role they performed as shown in a specific document.

The importance of this is that this all substantiated information with documented proof.

As retirement beckons, the Gorse Fox can see this escalating further as he begins to process all the digital images of documents that he has in addition to the physical images processed above. The current count os 273 images to process - each of which may generate up to about 10 entries.

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