My Techniques

I have developed several techniques which I believe are relatively unique and of high value-add and worth sharing. They are listed below.

"Golden Rule" of Genealogy

I certainly did not invent this, but it was one of the first principles I learned. Always treat siblings equally. If you search for one, search for them all. If you include one in your documentation, include them all. If you ignore one, ignore them all. This means extra work for you, but it also makes your work a hundred times more valuable to other researchers. It works like this: If you only document one sibling, the only people who can be interested are those who descended from there. However, if you document all siblings, then every cousin from the entire family can benefit from your work.

Numbering Systems

I like to number things. It's a fault of mine, but genealogist have been developing number systems for a long time. I finally settled on one that works very well for me. It is the Dollarhide numbering system. It was proposed by William Dollarhide serially in a publication. It isn't on the web anymore so far as I know, but here is a link in the internet archive. I have produced a numbering tutorial for how to use this with a computer program. I also made a few modifications, documented here.

Source Transcription

It is so important to provide sources. And with so much ability to search on the web, it is important to provide source transcriptions. It's a lot of work but well worth it in terms of strengthening your evidence and in terms of being able to share data with others and locate cousins (or really have then locate you). I have prepared a tutorial on how I do source transcription and provided some guidelines and style suggestions. Because it is a lot of repetitive work, I have provided text template for many common US documents that you will probably be transcribing.

Lifetime Maps

I have found that making maps of peoples lives is very valuable research tool. It also make a wonderful documentation element. I suppose there may be a program that can do this automatically one day, but I tend to make them by adding annotations to a map program as I go along in my research using the map programs I already described on my tools & tips page.

Here is a sample showing the locations that I can document for one of my ancestors:

Census Time Line Snapshots

Tracking your family lines through the ages is a grate way to fill in the gaps. I have developed a little chart that shows life bars for a line of ancestors or a family group and superimpose onto the bars each census group that I find. This allows me to easily see who I still need to find. It also sometimes help you sort out evidence that is otherwise confusing. I create this with my time line program that I already described on my tools & tips page.and then annotate the output with a drawing program.

Here is an example of my direct descendant line. You can easily see where I still have holes to fill in from the census records: