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!

Monday, October 6, 2014

An Estate Administration's Story

As a class, estate administrations may be one of the best sources for linking members of a family. These records aren't just limited to wills, but include all the papers created when an estate is transferred from the deceased to his or her heirs. Pick an estate administration and work on this assignment.
  • Did you choose a will recorded in the county will book?
    • What source type template would you use to cite this record?
    • Is this an original record or a derivative record?
  • Did you choose one of the loose papers from an estate file?
    • What source type template would you use to cite this record?
    • Is this an original record or a derivative record?
  • Did you transcribe the information found in the record?
    • If so, how did you enter that transcription in TMG?
    • Do you visualize a report in which this transcription would be printed?
  • Did you choose to abstract the information?
    • Provide a screen shot of the tag, or tags, in which the information appears.
    • How do you expect this information to appear in a report?
  • Did you create a custom tag for this record?
    • If so, provide a screen shot of that tag.
    • What are the custom sentences you created for this tag?
  • List all the people named in the estate.
    • Can you identify them all?
    • Did you add all of them to your TMG database? Why, or why not?
  • What law, or laws, governed the creation of your chosen record?
    • If you don't understand how and why a record was created, your interpretation of that record may be incorrect. The answer to this question is more important than you might think.
  • Finally, write a narrative deriving from this record.
    • Remember, this narrative doesn't need to be long - just a paragraph or two is fine.

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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