Genealogy Data Entry Techniques

I have been a subscriber of Dick Eastman’s Genealogy Newsletter for many years now. One of his articles in today’s edition really struck a cord with me, Genealogy Data Entry Techniques. The article reads:

In the course of a week, I get to see a lot of genealogy data. Some of what I see is abysmal. Many otherwise highly-skilled genealogists do not seem to know that their keyboards have a SHIFT key! Instead, they simply turn on CAPS LOCK and then ignore upper and lower case after that.

Of course, the use of UPPER CASE text has a long history in the computer business. The mainframes of the 1960s and 70s only used upper case text. Data typically was entered on 80-column punch cards. The IBM 026 keypunch machine, the most popular keypunch machine ever built, indeed did not have a shift key and was incapable of entering lower case text.

By the late 1970s, all of this had changed, and data was being entered from computer terminals in normal upper and lower case. However, not everyone got the word. It seems that a number of people do not realize that the keyboards of the twenty-first century have improved since those “stone age” computers of 40 or 50 years ago.

Here are two short examples produced by a popular genealogy program. Which one do you find easier to read?

Example 1:

4. JOSEPH PATRICK KENNEDY, SON OF PATRICK JOSEPH KENNEDY AND MARY AUGUSTA HICKEY, WAS BORN ON 6 SEP 1888 IN BOSTON, MA,2 DIED ON 18 NOV 1969 IN HYANNIS PORT, MA, AT AGE 81, AND WAS BURIED IN HOLYHOOD CEMETERY, BROOKLINE, MA.

GENERAL NOTES: FROM THE TIME HE WAS A SCHOOL BOY HE WAS INTERESTED IN MAKING MONEY. HE HAD AN INTERESTING HOBBY OF TINKERING WITH CLOCKS. JOE WAS A POOR STUDENT, BUT GOOD AT ATHLETICS AND HAD AN ATTRACTIVE PERSONALITY. HE WAS ABLE TO OVERCOME MANY ETHNIC BARRIERS DURING HIS SCHOOL YEARS AT BOSTON LATIN, A PROTESTANT AND PRIMARILY YANKEE SCHOOL. WAS ONE OF THE YOUNGEST BANK PRESIDENTS IN US HISTORY. HE WAS FIERCELY PROUD OF HIS FAMILY. HE WAS QUOTED AS HAVING SAID HIS FAMILY WAS THE FINEST THING IN HIS LIFE. JOE KENNEDY WAS A VERY HARD WORKER, WHICH OFTEN DETERIORATED HIS HEALTH. AT TIMES HE WAS HOSPITALIZED FOR HIS RUN DOWN CONDITION.

Example 2:

4. Joseph Patrick Kennedy, son of Patrick Joseph Kennedy and Mary Augusta Hickey, was born on 6 Sep 1888 in Boston, MA,2 died on 18 Nov 1969 in Hyannis Port, MA, at age 81, and was buried in Holyhood Cemetery, Brookline, MA.

General Notes: From the time he was a school boy he was interested in making money. He had an interesting hobby of tinkering with clocks. Joe was a poor student, but good at athletics and had an attractive personality. He was able to overcome many ethnic barriers during his school years at Boston Latin, a protestant and primarily Yankee school. Was one of the youngest Bank Presidents in US history. He was fiercely proud of his family. He was quoted as having said his family was the finest thing in his life. Joe Kennedy was a very hard worker, which often deteriorated his health. At times he was hospitalized for his run down condition.

I certainly prefer to read the second example. The first one is much more difficult to read – so difficult that I may miss important information.

If you are entering genealogy data, please take pity on the future readers of your text. Please use upper and lower case characters, the same as you learned in grade school. Your fourth-grade teacher probably would have flunked you if you used all upper case in her class. Guess what? I’ll also give you a grade of “F” if I see your genealogy data in all upper case!

Yes, there is a shift key on your computer. In fact, you can probably find two of them. Please use them only when appropriate.

You can read this article and many others on his site Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.  Thank You Dick Eastman.

RootsWeb Online Editor Discontinued

We will be discontinuing this RootsWeb Online Editor on July 31st, 2017. RootsWeb FreePages users will need to use an FTP client to upload and modify files starting August 1st, 2017.

Many of our users have been happy with FileZilla which is a free FTP client. Useful tips and tricks for FileZilla and Rootsweb are available.

Other free FTP clients are also available.

If you are currently using the online editor and do NOT have a copy of all of your pages on YOUR computer, you should make sure you download them before the online editor is discontinued. You will also need to find another program to edit your pages. You can use something as simple as Notepad or try one of the free HTML Editors.

If you need help in getting YOUR SITE from the RootsWeb servers to YOUR COMPUTER, please see Transferring your FreePages site to YOUR Computer Using Filezilla.

The RootsWeb Online Editor is being discontinued for ALL SITES not just those on FreePages.

Virginia Vital Records

Virginia birth and death records from 1912 to the present, divorce records since 1918 and marriage records since 1936 are now available in an index form. Click here to access indexed information on open records.  In Virginia, death, marriage and divorce data become “public” information 25 years after the event; birth data are “public” after 100 years.

Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced the completion of a two-year, public-private collaboration between the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Ancestry.com that fully digitizes the state’s vital records. To date, more than 16 million records have been digitized and indexed. Scanned images of the original, public* documents are available online through Ancestry.com. Access to the indexed information on the records is available free of charge through VDH’s Division of Vital Records’ and the Library of Virginia’s websites.

To view the actual record, you will need a membership to Ancestry.com.

Example of Index entry

birth-records-index

Virginia records available through FamilySearch.org include:

Virginia, Births and Christenings, 1853-1917 – Name index to birth, baptism and christening records from the state of Virginia. Microfilm copies of these records are available at the Family History Library and FamilySearch Centers. Due to privacy laws, recent records may not be displayed. The year range represents most of the records. A few records may be earlier or later. No images are available.

Virginia, Deaths and Burials, 1853-1912 – Name index to death and burial records from the state of Virginia Deaths. Microfilm copies of these records are available at the Family History Library and Family History Centers. This set contains 785,241 records. Due to privacy laws, recent records may not be displayed. The year range represents most of the records. A few records may be earlier or later. No images are available.

Virginia, Marriages, 1785-1940 – Name index to marriage records from the state of Virginia. Microfilm copies of these records are available at the Family History Library and Family History Centers. Due to privacy laws, recent records may not be displayed. The year range represents most of the records. A few records may be earlier or later. No images are available.

The FamilySearch indexes do give you more information.

Research at DAR Library Now Free to the Public

The DAR Library, one of the country’s premier genealogical research facilities, is now FREE to all researchers. In October, the entrance fee for use of the Washington, D.C. family history library was eliminated as part of ongoing efforts to make the extensive DAR genealogical resources more accessible to the public.

“We are so pleased to be able to now offer the DAR Library resources free of charge,” says Eric Grundset, Director of the DAR Library. “We invite and encourage anyone who may have been deterred in the past by the usage fee to come visit and explore our vast holdings. You never know what you may be able to discover about your family at the DAR Library.”

You can read the full article on the NSDAR website Research at DAR Library Now Free to the Public

Tennessee Family Bible Records

According to the Genealogy in Time newsletter,

the Tennessee State Public Library has put online a collection of some 1,500 family bibles that the library has been collecting since the 1920s. The collection consists of scans of all the pages in the bibles that contain notations such as dates of birth, baptism and marriage of various family members. In Tennessee, birth certificates were not required until 1908, making this collection particularly valuable for anyone with Tennessee ancestors (interesting fact: the US government still accepts a list of births in a family bible as one proof of citizenship).

When using Bible records, a number of things you should take into consideration include:

  • The information has NOT been checked to ascertain whether it is valid or not.
  • Families MAY have altered the date of a marriage in the Bible to make it look like the children were NOT conceived out of wedlock.
  • If the cause of death is included in the Bible, it may be different than the official record.
  • Some wealthy families may have also recorded the names and dates of birth of their slaves.