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!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My June Assignment - with a Few TMG Screenshots

As most of you know, military records are my absolute favorite documents. The Civil War is probably my favorite period, but the War of 1812 is now running a close second. I adopted a privateer from that war a couple of years ago, thinking I might want to do some more in-depth research on it, and this month's assignment is my start on that project: "The First Voyage of the Schooner Growler: Salem Privateer in the War of 1812." Here are my answers to this month's questions.
  • Choose a military record that intrigues you. Here are a few examples: a draft registration or its associated documents; an affidavit from a pension application; an enlistment or discharge paper; a final payment; a medical record; a military tombstone application. This is just a tiny fraction of the possibilities in the world of military records.
  • Enter the information derived from the record in your TMG database.
    • Did you abstract or transcribe the document? Both. I transcribed the information in the two Document tags; I extracted or abstracted information in the two types of Event tags; and the Comment tag is used for my own narrative.
      Individual Detail Screen
    • Did you add a scanned image of the document as an exhibit? Yes, I attached scanned images of the focus document to the tag that includes its transcription in the Memo.
      Tag Screen with Exhibit Screen
    • Did you need to create a custom tag? No, although some of the ones I used are custom tags I created some time ago.
  • Don't forget your source citation!
    • What source type template did you use? I used a custom template called "National Archives Film/Fiche (Online)." We don't have anything exactly like it in our template book, but one could modify our NARA microfilm template by adding the online website information.
    • Did you have any problems citing the source? No.
Source Definition Screen
  • Write a narrative at least two paragraphs in length.
    • In what type of article would your narrative be appropriate: family history, research report, or proof argument? This project, when I finish it, would be more appropriate for a journal article.
I learned something new (to me) while I was working on this. I'll add a separate post on that - and, since some of the members have asked for a review of the add-an-exhibit process, I'll add something on that process, too. Any questions? Comments?

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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