Yesterday I received notice of the release of RootsMagic version 5. I immediately upgraded my software. I was particularly interested in some of the new features – Research Manager, Timeline View, and County Check. Today I had my first foray into using the Research Manager.
As I was entering Census records into my RM5 database, I discovered that for the 1870 census my g-grandmother (Mary Adeline Messerall, who was 3 years old at the time) was living with her grandparents and her uncle’s family. No indication of her parents. This had slipped by me when I had originally downloaded the file. Both her father and her grandfather are named John. Because I was focused on Mary A’s presence in that census page, I had only glanced at the head of the household. I had seen “Messerall, John” and skipped right over the name of his wife, Ann. Mary A’s grandmother Messerall was Ann; her mother, Susanna.
I began to wonder — had my g-grandmother been orphaned? The dates I have for her parents deaths (1895 and 1905) would suggest that either a) I have the wrong dates for their deaths or b) I have the wrong 1870 census file or c) the parents were elsewhere in 1870. I do have a copy of the 1900 census listing her father and her brother’s family; so, I think option “a” is no longer available.
Fortunately, I have collaborated with another genealogist (an amateur like me) on my g-grandmother’s family. I immediately sent her an email to see if she could shed any light on the quandary.
Interestingly, I discovered that my census records for this family were all screwed up. 1840 – no Messerall listed on the file I had saved; 1850 – another Messerall, but not one that I have been researching; 1860 – the grandparents (and the father) of my g-grandmother; 1870 – grandparents and Uncle’s family, plus my g-grandmother and her sister; 1900 – my g-grandmother’s father and her brother’s family. The short-comings of former “shoddy” research practices are catching up with me. And, of course, the lesson is: it’s always easier to straighten things out the first time through, rather until months or years have passed.
Back to my RM5 database. I used the Research Manager to do a log entry for this quandary. Here is the Research Log initial entry screen:
The Research Manager can be accessed from the “List” tab on the main screen or for within the database. The initial entry form for the Research log asks for a name for the Research Log being created. Whatever is typed in this box will appear in the listing of Research Logs in the main screen of the Research Manager. I had originally entered: “Email to Deb ???? (1870 Census and Mary A. Messerall).” I then changed it to: “Messerall, Mary A – 1870 Census (Email to Deb ????).” Since my file system is based primarily on persons, this seems the most effective way for me to quickly scan the Research Manager for any research logs on which I need to work. You may choose to name your logs differently. It is important to note that multiple log entries can be attached to one named research log.
A drop down menu provides you with options for who/what is the focus of this log: General / Person / Family / Event / Place. After choosing the type of log being created, another drop-down menu gives the option to scroll through the people, families, or places in the database in order to choose the specific focus of the Log. When Event is chosen as the type you have the choice of an open search for event type, or to select a person / family / place and be given a listing of all the events associated with that person / family / place. Because I had opened the Research Manager while looking at the file of Mary Adeline Messerall, the drop-down already listed “Person” and her name was entered in the appropriate space. One last step before entering the actual data of your research – namely, determining “the objective of this research log.” That field is a open text field that you can fill in as you choose.
Once that information is all collected, you have the choice of clicking on “Add research item,” “Edit research item,” or “Delete research item.” Of course, since this is my first log, I chose “Add…” which opened a new screen.
At the top of the “Research Log Entry” screen you are asked for: “Date of your search” (with a drop-down calendar) and a “Reference Number.” I chose today’s date on the calendar and the space was immediately filled in with the date. I had originally left the “Reference Number” field empty, but have since entered 19.0, which is Mary Adeline Messerall’s Ahnentafel number (based upon my son as #1.0).
In the text box titled: “What were you trying to find?” I included the text of my email to the other genealogist which included what I found as I carefully checked the census records that had previously been stored in the digital folder for John Messerall (REF=38.0) and John Messerall (REF=76.0) – Mary A. Messerall’s father and grandfather.
The remaining portions of the Research Log Entry are: “What source did you check?” “Where did you check (repository and call#)” and “What were the results of your search?” These fields seemed rather straight forward in what they were asking for… and, because they are open text fields, I was able to tailor my entries to the specific case of an extended email and follow-up research.
I found the Research Manager and Logs to be fairly straight-forward to use. As mentioned above, in review of what I had done, I found it advantageous to change the name of the particular Research Log so that I would be able to find it quickly once the list of Logs grows. I will pay attention to naming as I go along and may choose to change the way I name logs in order to find them more easily. Hopefully, I will continue to use the Research Manager feature extensively in the future.
Disclaimer: I am not employed by, nor have I received any good or remuneration from RootMagic. RootsMagic is sijply my desktop genealogy database of choice.