Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Data Tracking Challenges in a One Place Study - 1 - [Homer-NY.com]

This will no doubt be a reoccurring subject of this blog. As I start to piece together the puzzle of the individuals who founded and contributed to the growth of Homer, I am using genealogy data bases in a different way than their creators originally intended. Most genealogists are tracking their own family lines, which means most of the individuals in their database have connections to someone else in their data base. A One Place Study is a collection of many families and individuals with fewer biological connections. So when I enter a new individual in my data base, I use the option of adding a new unrelated individual most often.

I have worked with databases for much of my career and really enjoy them -geek alert! When I started working on my genealogy using a computer, I knew I had to find a data base that allowed the user to creatively add their own data sets to track, flexible viewing options, great reporting options -you can see the theme -it's all about me and how I want things. I also wanted the ability to easily set up web pages since I do not have html skills (yet).  After a great deal of research and testing, I started with The Master Genealogist -a great product with a super users list. After several years some other products caught my eye and I tested them. As much as I like TMG (versions 5 and 6), with limited time, I felt I could be more productive if I could speed up my data entry and citations. Hence I switched to Legacy Family Tree a couple of years ago. This is not a product endorsement, but as I work on this project the tools I use are relevant and I will share them here.  I hope readers feel free to share information about the tools they are using as well.  I think either of these great programs would work for a One Place Study or One Name Study (another type of project I hope to be involved in one day).

In addition to traditional vital statistic information about the individuals in my study, I need to set up special data points to track to make it possible to do analysis and reporting later on. To effectively use any data base, you have to know what you want to get out of it. Without a doubt, later on I will wish I had tracked some piece of information that I didn't, or wish I had entered it differently.

Just recently I realized I needed to create some special events (Legacy speak for customizable data tables) to track things like:
  1. ethnicity;
  2. arrival year in Homer; 
  3. age upon arrival in Homer; 
  4. marital status upon arrival; 
  5. did they come with family, friends, alone; 
  6. religious associations in Homer; 
  7. where did they move from; 
  8. occupations; 
  9. original lot location...and more.   
Yes, I could track this information in text within established traditional genealogical fields of information, but I need to isolate them as individual data fields if I want to pull statistics on a large number of individuals at once. For that I need a data base that will let me create those custom fields. Not all genealogy data bases provide that flexibility. You can use spreadsheets to track some of this data, but then you lose the relationship tracking and citation features of a genealogical data base.
I will discuss these data points in more detail in later blogs - I am still mapping them out and coming up with a strategy to fill them in.  Not all One Place Studies include a database as I am describing and I am not proposing that all One Place Studies be conducted the same way I am conducting mine.  There is no "right way" - which only makes a project like this more challenging, creative and fun.


  1. I will be following your blog with great interest. I am doing kind of the same thing you are for a place called St. Mary of the Woods Village in Vigo County, Indiana. My interest is focused on the Catholic families there.

  2. Thanks for sharing! I was hoping this blog would help me connect to others interested in one place studies. I am behind on getting some posts up, but have several in the works.