Monday, 27 May 2013

 How can Evidentia work for me?                   

Genealogists come in all shapes and sizes but there is one thing that most of us strife to do but very few of us really do well.

What is it that we are so bad at but is really so important and should be the one thing that we would hope to do right?

We are endlessly told how important it is to cite our sources.
Why is this so important?

Well as any experienced researcher will tell you, I wish I had documented my sources so much better when I first started (remembering to date and document what you can remember of a conversation with an older family member, or noting all those negative searches which you repeat a year later even though there is no change in the information).
Most of us have been there and it is so difficult years down the line to be sure what you have or have not done in the past.

Secondly how many of us have entered a source thought we had got as much from it as we could find only to go back years later and realise it held clues which now fit into the bigger picture.
I have 2 marriage certificates with witnesses whose names I did not recognise who later turned out to be members of the family by marriage or illegitimacy.

When I first saw Evidentia being used by other genealogists on a Google+ Hangout I was not sure whether I was ready to embrace using it to enhance my research process.

To see how Evidentia works have a look at the videos on the developers YouTube Channel
You can also get a 30 day trial to see whether you think the program will work for you. 
Like most programs the first version will not be perfect but the developer is working with users to improve the program so that it can be a great resource for the genealogy community.

The timing in relation to the release of a new book by Thomas Jones could not be better.
Evidentia will make you think about how you record your source and about what that source is telling you. It will also help you to decide whether what you have is sufficient to support the facts you have documented.
Analysing the evidence is not new and is something we should all be doing but how many of us are doing it well.

When I document a source I need enough information so that anyone including me can go back and find that information at a future date. Quoting just a url and a date accessed is not enough as tomorrow that url could change the internet is an ever changing source of information and even archives can move so don’t forget to record as much as you can about your source.
In Evidentia you can use templates provided or create your own which can be a great way to remind you what you need to record from those commonly used sources. 

Could these templates help when we are recording our research? 
I know I have got back from a research trip only to find I have forgotten to record something.

Could Evidentia help by producing a template for further research when we have analysed what we already know?

I have not got a copy of Mastering Genealogical Proof as shipping to the UK is likely to be expensive, but if this book deals with the topic of extensive research then it may be that Evidentia will be able to guide users as to how extensive their research needs to be in the future.

I have on my computer a program called Gensmarts which I had hoped would help in this respect but like most programs if what you have recorded is poorly inputted then you do not get meaningful results.

I have high hopes for Evidentia and would 
encourage all serious genealogists to give the program a try. In the absence of anything to replace or update Gedcom this program could be a significant tool.

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