Become a Better Researcher

Our research problems are unique and our genealogy software, to be useful, must be flexible enough to match our respective problems and our respective methods. The Master Genealogist is that software, but power and flexibility has a down side. The more options a program has, the more decisions the user must make. This year, the Tri-Valley TMG User Group will explore those options and make some of those personal decisions. Would you like to play along with us? Do each month's assignment, and if you like, e-mail it to us at: We'll post some of the completed assignments on this blog each month. Let's hear it for choices!

Friday, March 28, 2014

April Assignment: Tombstone Tales

There are two bumper sticks that should be adorning my family cars. My husband's should say, "My wife's other car is a broom," and mine should say, "I brake for cemeteries." All genealogists love cemeteries, so this month's assignment should be easy. Among all those tombstones you've photographed or transcribed, there must be one or two that call to you, hinting at a deeper story. This is your opportunity to find and tell that story.

In addition to writing the narrative, here are some TMG points to consider when working with your census records:
  • Create a Master Source List entry for this record, if you don't already have one. What source type template did you use? Did you have any difficulties with it?
  • Do you transcribe the tombstone when entering the information in TMG?
    1. Why or why not?
    2. If you do, where do you enter it?
  • Do you attach an image of the tombstone to the tag?
  • Write a narrative paragraph about your subject that derives from the tombstone. You will probably need to do extra research to write this paragraph! Don't forget to cite all these additional sources.
Hats off to Danielle! She completed her assignment before I finished mine. Bravo!

I do have a brief article with screenshots showing my burial tag, sentence output (English) and sentence output (Notes), the Source Definition screen, and the Citation Detail screen. The narrative is a separate article, discussing the Elizabeth (Colburn) Ball grave marker. Be sure to look at the photograph on Find A Grave.

The tombstone I chose has two names inscribed on it. Several members have asked me how I handle this in TMG. I've experimented with several methods, but I don't think I'm in love with any of them. One of the earlier blog posts discusses a few ideas I've used. If you're interested in these methods, the post is titled, "Entering Information from Monuments."

While you're working on this assignment, feel free to post questions and problems to this blog, or send them to Kay and me at: Bring the finished product with you to the April meeting. I'm looking forward to hearing a lot of new ideas!

Remember this year's goals.

  • We want to develop the habit of analyzing each record we use, and not just enter each information bit without thinking about its meaning.
  • We want to make conscious decisions on what data we want to enter into TMG, how we enter that data, and how we will use that data in our research.
  • We want to develop the habit of writing research reports and real family histories, not just printing out pedigree charts and family group sheets.
  • We want to make TMG fit our research needs and goals. We don't want to make our research practices fit TMG.

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