Friday, August 3, 2007


By Gary J. Gabehart

When it comes to collecting genealogy data, there is nothing like hard data records -- raw data records, you have to write it down when you collect it.

Now that it is a written record, it can be retained for posterity. But wait, as it grows it becomes unwieldy and hard to sort. Binders grow and become thick with data. How do you solve the problem of looking up certain data? How do you find it at a moments notice and how is it related to other pieces of data.

Years ago, I was a Data Management Specialist with a major University System. We collected data -- human subject data, enumerations and personal data. These records were numbered and were placed in a file cabinet to be reviewed or edited by hand. Later, this data was placed, one by one, into a computer for electronic sorting. Although these systems, by today's standards, were archaic, without these systems we would still be sorting this data today.

The point I'm making is that we still need the family group sheets to back up our research, but without a computerised record -- a sorting program to put this data in, it is flat. Without electronic storage for sorting, it is tough to have ready access to connected material. With electronic storage, your data is no longer flat, but comes alive.

These programs have been difficult to find until the past three or four years, but can now be found most anywhere. One of the most popular programs is Family Tree Maker (FTM is only used here as an example) that can be found at every Sam's, Wal-Mart, Office Max or Office Depot for as little as $50.00 or less.

As data is entered into these genealogy programs, a family group sheet is created and connected to other family group sheets which can easily be printed, updated and added to. Now, you have a way to sort data, and -- a way to print reports.

One real and slow process of sharing data on genealogy sites is not knowing what kind of data the other folks need and who and how they are related -- to you.

Recently, with the help of Family Tree Maker, I was able to connect my self as a cousin to Ray Bridges and Terry Jackson -- Bearhead Creek Redbones. Also, I have now connected my self as a blood kin, cousin, to Stacy Webb (connecting an East Texas Redbone family with my own Goins family out of Southwest Louisiana). What is amazing is that the Stacy Webb connection was all done in a matter of :20 minutes of data provided over the phone by her and determined in a Kinship Report in less than :60 seconds.

It was a matter of connecting dots. Now she knows exactly how she is connected to everyone in my database, and I know how I am connected to the East Texas Redbones, and the folks around Starks, Pitkin and Oakdale.

This lack of being unable to connect the dots electronically is a problem that has plagued research e-sites for years. In addition, another person, who will remain unknown here, also found exact blood relationships she had only guessed at before and found Ray Bridges to be a blood relative cousin.

Moreover, I have found a blood relationship from myself to Bill Farris of the RB Board, and I expect to see a blood relationship soon to the Buxton's, Gibson's, Bass', Doyle's and Clark's. It's all a matter of entering data, connecting the dots and printing a kinship report.

The point here is being able to know the exact relationships to you of everyone in your database and who "their kinship reports" connect to others in your database. With that information, everyone's family tree grows.

Gary J. Gabehart, Mishiho (Mish-eh-ho)

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