Creating for the Future

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge
Part 15: Cre­at­ing for the Future

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge is a series of arti­cles about the His­to­rian Archives Project and how you can become involved.

Establishing Genealogical Standards

Estab­lish­ing Genealog­i­cal Standards

Before we type one sin­gle name into our Offi­cial Strong Geneal­ogy data­base, we estab­lish our qual­ity and edi­to­r­ial stan­dards. There is one and only one mas­ter copy of the data­base. The SFAA His­to­rian is the only per­son who updates the mas­ter copy. He or she then dis­trib­utes copies to the other project mem­bers for their use.

It doesn’t really mat­ter if we use Fam­ily Tree Maker, Legacy, or some­thing else, so long as it can be used to record what we want to record, and gen­er­ate book sec­tions for our Future Updates pro­gram. I use Legacy, so I’ll use it as my example.

Legacy has a large set of Source Cita­tion tem­plates that com­ply with Evi­dence Explained: Cit­ing His­tory Sources from Arti­facts to Cyber­space by Eliz­a­beth Shown Mills, an unof­fi­cial but widely-used high stan­dard of cita­tion. We have not printed exten­sive and detailed source cita­tions in our bound vol­umes, but we don’t have the same lim­its in a book on CD. We can add 50 pages of bib­li­og­ra­phy for free.

Imag­ine the value to future Strong His­to­ri­ans in gen­er­a­tions to come, if we care­fully doc­u­ment every source of infor­ma­tion as it’s used. The Offi­cial Strong Geneal­ogy data­base can be the source of our Strong Update books on CD for sure, but its real value is to our His­to­ri­ans in their day-to-day inves­ti­ga­tions. We can keep any num­ber of research notes and anec­dotes attached to any spe­cific indi­vid­ual, thus pass­ing on our detailed knowl­edge to the next gen­er­a­tion of Historians.

In the same way, when the time comes, we can decide on the other edi­to­r­ial and genealog­i­cal stan­dards to be followed.

A geneal­ogy pro­gram doesn’t have the same “flow” as a man­u­script. If you’re writ­ing about the entire Thomas (son of Elder John Strong) line, it’s hard to see how that flows when you’re look­ing at the com­puter screen dis­play­ing (for exam­ple) the David Strong fam­ily unit and noth­ing else. On the other hand, we all use these sorts of geneal­ogy pro­grams, and are quite com­fort­able with them.

In short, cre­at­ing a book by first cre­at­ing an Offi­cial Strong Geneal­ogy data­base sounds like a weird way to do it. But we cre­ate some­thing of tremen­dous ongo­ing day-to-day value to our His­to­ri­ans. It’s easy and intu­itive to update infor­ma­tion as it comes in (and meets our genealog­i­cal stan­dards for inclu­sion). Infor­ma­tion doesn’t need to wait for months and years to be processed and disseminated.

Please share your ideas!

Posted in Sharing our Knowledge.

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