New updates to the Genealogical Research System are available!

The new templates for my Genealogical Research System are now posted on the FileMaker template exchange.  I will give you point by point details soon on what's included in the updates, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, here's the short answer:

  • the U.S. Census templates are now included as an integral part of the GRS so there's no need to download them as a separate template; 
  • I've added a Library for Proofs; and 
  • I've included more related tables.
The whole idea behind the GRS is to support every stage of the research process, from data gathering to analysis, using the Genealogical Proof Standard as a constant guide.  As you might have seen from the first version, the emphasis in the Source library is on data gathering.  Then, in the Evidence library, you move to extracting and recording meaningful information from your sources, linking this data to relevant people or tasks.  In this version, I've added an Assertions & Proof Arguments library, in which you identify a research question and gather together all the relevant pieces of evidence both pro and con.  Once this is assembled, you have all the tools together in one place to write a proof argument.

I make extensive use of Bento's Related Data feature, which allows you to easily add data and move between related records in different libraries.  By moving through your data in a non-linear fashion and examining it through different lenses, you understand it more thoroughly, and often make logical connections that are missed in a straightforward linear record-keeping structure.  The research process itself is iterative, so your research tool should accommodate a flexible, back-and-forth model of recording data.

In fact, that is the key element of a useful research tool: you should be able to record data or perform tasks as they become relevant, from multiple places in your database.  This obviously makes your work more intuitive and seamless, since you don't have to stop what you are doing, close down a page, and start something new.  The related table feature in Bento allows you to do this; here are some quick examples:

  • You are at a courthouse, examining several wills, each of which offers several different pieces of evidence.  Add the source and do a "quick add" to the Evidence library right from the source page.  Later you go back to fill in the details.
  • While entering information in the Evidence library, you are struck by a common theme in your data; you can enter it as a formal assertion directly from the evidence screen, and analyze it later in the Assertions library.
  • You can add items to your To Do List library from almost everywhere in the system; if you are anything like me, you are always thinking of the next step while you are still in the middle of doing the first thing!
The point is that the process is organic, and not linear.

One caution -- if you've been using the earlier version of my templates, make sure to save your data before importing to the new templates.  I tried not to change field names, but there were a few unavoidable changes -- best practice is to always save your data before trying anything new!