Chapter 4 of A Primer for The Master Genealogist deals with Personal Data Entry Standards. This week, I have chosen to focus on the section within that chapter on source conventions, so I also skipped ahead in the book to read Chapter 6 Working with Sources.
Terry discusses the need to decide on the level of detail included in each source, he gives an example:
For example, one might create a single Source definition for all birth certificates. Or one might create a single source for all birth certificates issued in a single county or state. Or one might create a individual Source for each certificate.
Where fewer, more general sources are defined this means more information is included within the citation. He introduces the terms “lumpers” and “splitters” to describe the two approaches to sources. Different approaches can be taken for different source types according to what best suits your needs.
The Master Source List under the Tools menu enables you to view the complete list of Sources in your project
Work I have carried out on sources
My first task was to delete sources which were duplicates and had no citations.
Secondly, all the sources that I had imported from Personal Ancestral File seemed to have a source type of poll book/electoral register! I went through all the sources and selected the appropriate source type. This was easy for BMD certificates, and fairly easy for parish registers, but census sources need more thought, and I will return to these at a later date.
Fortunately for me, the UK Edition comes with its own set of source types designed by Caroline Gurney. I understand users of the standard edition, carrying out research using UK sources, can download these source types as described on TMG Tips. So far I have only created two new source types myself, for cemetery record transcripts and for online parish register images, these need more work.
Work still to be done on sources
This exercise has demonstrated that the source information I imported is fairly worthless, I will be needing to revisit all my sources and citations to enter the information correctly, as required by the TMG.
I currently have each BMD certificate set up as a separate source, this seems logical to me, as they are each separate documents. I don’t think it is more work than recording the same information in citations. I need to come up with a naming convention for these sources. In the Primer, Terry describes how sources are sorted by abbreviation in the master source list, and that he has devised a coding system for the abbreviation in order to cope with a large number of sources, the result being that similar sources are grouped together in the Master Source List.
I plan to reorganise my certificate filing system in tandem with correcting the source entries and citations for BMD certificates.
I need to do some research on the best way to handle census information, as this is such an important source and will be time consuming to enter. My preference is to have one source for each census year, with other information recorded in the citation. Terry recommends creating a test project to try out changes – sounds like a good plan when it comes to the census.
I have a parish register source for each parish, but I think it makes sense to have separate sources for each volume. I am slightly unsure whether I should have separate sources for the same document depending on whether I viewed a microfilmed copy or an online image, I probably should.
Other sources will have to wait until these first three have been sorted out.
Lumper or Splitter?
It seems that at the moment I’m a splitter when it comes to BMD certificates and parish registers, but a lumper whe it comes to the census, provided I can make that work.
Are you a lumper or a splitter? I would be interested to hear how many additional source definitions you have created if you are a UK researcher. Also, how have you dealt with the proliferation of online sources in your project?
This post follows on from Getting to Grips with The Master Genealogist – Introduction and Part 1: Tag Types and TMG Utility