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
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!