…or why I am glad I use DropBox.

I started up Evidentia this morning and discovered all my data was gone! The program asked me for a license key as if it had never heard of me. HOW FRUSTRATING!

Now before I start a panic, this is NOT a bug in the existing version. You need to understand that as the designer/developer my situation is unique. At any given point in time I might have three different versions of Evidentia on my PC. Right now I have version 2.2.0, which I use for my research; 2.2.1, which has a few bug fixes that I am still testing; and 2.3, which has some new features that I haven’t gotten quite right. Unfortunately all 3 versions share the same database storage location, and somehow in switching back and forth my data got lost in the shuffle.

Well that’s why we keep backups. But wait – I also use DropBox! So I just entered my license key (if you had ANY idea how often I have to re-enter my license key!), told Evidentia I wanted to use DropBox – Evidentia automatically synced with the data in the App/EvidentiSoftware directory!

I love it when things work the way they are supposed to!

Mind Maps

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program…

Evidentia is one of many tools I use in researching my family tree.  Today I want to talk about a different tool – Mind Maps.

Ron Arons, who some of you may know from his Black Sheep Blog and from genealogy conferences, has published a new book, Mind Maps for GenealogistsI picked up a copy at NGS 2014, and offer this review.


Google “mind maps” and you will find tons of articles on the topics.  Search for “mind maps genealogy” and you will see the potential synergy between the two topics.  Mind mapping offers a creative way for the researcher to visualize questions and possible paths to finding the answers.


Mind Map Image courtesy wikipedia.com

What Ron does in Mind Maps for Genealogists is bring the two topics together in a clear and easy to understand format, then applies mind mapping techniques to real research problems.

The book leads the reader to a basic understanding of mind mapping principles.  It then introduces the reader to  a few free mind mapping tools, and teaches the reader how to use those tools.  Along the way Ron points out a few mind mapping pitfalls (DON’T try to build a family tree with a mind map – you CAN, but there is little value)
That’s right, I said FREE mind mapping tools.

The book includes several case studies, showing how a researcher can break down brick walls using mind mapping techniques.  This was the part of the book that made mind mapping real for me.  I had a basic understand on mind mapping techniques having seen them used in business.

I have long felt that mind mapping would be particularly helpful in doing FAN (Friends, Associates, Neighbors) research.  Mind Maps allow me to harness a creative thought process; Ron Aron’s Mind Maps for Genealogists gives me the information I need to make this happen.

(Now I just need the time!)

Call for BETA testers

Call for BETA testers! Evidentia 2.2 introduces integrated FamilySearch functionality. I am looking for a few brave individuals to help me run it through its paces before general release.

  • Do you have a (free) account with FamilySearch?
  • Are you familiar with the Family Tree on FamilySearch?
  • Do you have a few Evidentia proofs in your catalogue?
  • Do you have time to use Evidentia over the next couple of weeks?

We could sure use you!

Use the contact page at http://evidentiasoftware.com/contact-us/ to find out more!

Analyzing Claims

“I love Evidentia, but I am just not sure how to write an analysis.”

I have heard this more than once, from users on Google+, in Google Hangouts, and at conferences. Many users feel intimidated by the analysis process, even with the help of books such as Thomas Jones “Mastering Genealogical Proofs”

What I want to try to lay out below is one strategy for analyzing your claims.  It is certainly not the only way, and I don’t claim its comprehensive, but it will get you started to thinking about your claims in the right way.

Step 1 – Write a statement summarizing what you could conclude from this fact as if it were the only source and you were convinced it was accurate.

This is not just a duplication of the claim itself.  This is where you can capture what is implied by indirect evidence, or calculate a birth date based on an age. It’s also where you can clarify what a lack of evidence (Negative evidence) says about the fact.  For example:

Concluding a birth date from indirect evidence, and including a calculated value (I used the Age calculator):


The 1830 US Census – Gilford, NH – David Thompson claims that as of 1 June 1830 the household of David Thompson included one male between 70 and 79.

Analysis Step 1:

“Since David is documented as the head of household in this census, the implication is that David was born between Jun 2 1750 and June 1 1760.”

Concluding supporting information about a death based on negative evidence:


The 1850 US Census – Gilford, NH – Levi B Thompson claims that David Thompson is not found in the 1850 census for Gilford, NH.

Analysis Step 1:

“This supports the belief that David died before June 1, 1850.”

This is the statement further analysis will try to support or disprove.  It also provides a statement to compare with the other sources.

Step 2 – Write a statement summarizing why you or others might consider this a weak source.

Perhaps this is an authored work with no citations and unknown informant.  Or maybe it is an image of an original source, but the image is difficult to read.


The Vital Records, NH – Death – Levi B Thompson claims that David Thompson was born in Saulsbury, Mass.

Analysis Step 1:

“The evidence is direct, however the information is secondary, being provided in the death record of his youngest son, Levi. It reasonable to assume David shared that information with his son, but it is not known who provided that information on Levi’s death record. By itself this data is inconclusive.”

You want to communicate with a future reader that you are aware of any possible weaknesses this claim has.

Because the next steps involve comparing this claim with claims from other sources, it is a good idea to perform Steps 1 & 2 on each claim for this proof BEFORE proceeding to Step 3. Yes we are bouncing around a bit, but remember our goal is to analyze this evidence in the context of ALL the evidence.

Step 3 – Write a statement that indicates how the information in this claim compares to information in other claims.

Is the conclusion that can be drawn from this claim consistent with the evidence in other claims?  Does it say something totally different?

Here is a statement about a claim that is NOT in line with other claims:


The Revolutionary War Pension applications for the surname Thompson claims that David Thompson was born ca 1757 Guilford, Stafford Co., NH

Analysis Step 1:

“The estimated year of 1757 is later than that supported by the other evidence.”

Here is a statement about a claim that IS in line with other claims:


The 1790 US Census – Gilmanton, NH – David Thompson claims that in 1790 the household of David Thompson included one male over 16.

Analysis Step 1:

“This is consistent with other records that imply that David was about 33 in 1790.”

Step 4 – Summarize YOUR position on this evidence

This is where you will address any concerns raised in Step 2, as well as address any inconsistencies noted in Step 3.  For example,


The Revolutionary War Pension applications for the surname Thompson claims that David Thompson was born ca 1757 Guilford, Stafford Co., NH

Analysis Step 1:

“It is unclear who provided the information for the approximate birth year. The evidence is useful as a clue for further research, but it is not reliable for drawing a conclusion. For the reasons noted this evidence is being discounted in coming to the current working hypothesis.”

Repeat Steps 3 & 4 for every claim and now you are ready to write your conclusion!
Maybe. More complex research problems may require more thorough analysis.

Also, feel free to customize this approach. For example, I don’t use Steps 2-4 every time, like in the case of a simple claim based on an obviously solid source. Sometimes I reserve Steps 3 & 4 for the conclusion (more on this later).

This is just one strategy for approaching an anaylsis, but for those who feel stuck it just might get you moving.

Welcome New Users!

There is an unfortunate bug that hits new users more frequently than existing users: “TypeError: Cannot read property ‘onXhr’ of null”.  Click here to read more and learn how to fix it.

With NGS Family History Conference 2014 behind us, many of you are coming to this page as first time users, or checking us out for the first time. You have come to the right place! logo_sub You can find documentation, as well as lots of you tube videos on our Product Support Page. You can also check out our User Forum I invite you to join our very active Evidentia Google+ Community – lots of advice, and a great way to get your questions answered fast. Not on Google+? We also have a Facebook Page. Want to get news, updates, and special deals? Join our Evidentia Users mailing list on Mail Chimp. We promise not to flood you with spam. We want you to be successful with Evidentia, and try to provide lots of ways to help you reach your goals. Ed

Did you know – Help is on the way!

At Evidentia Software we realize that Evidentia presents a new way of thinking about your genealogy software. That why we provide lots of ways to get help on using the program!

You can find documentation, as well as lots of you tube videos on our Product Support Page. You can also check out our User Forum
2014-04-22 09_23_21-Evidentia - Community - Google+
I invite you to join our very active Evidentia Google+ Community – lots of advice, and a great way to get your questions answered fast.

Not on Google+? We also have a Facebook Page.

Want to get news, updates, and special deals? Join our Evidentia Users mailing list on Mail Chimp. We promise not to flood you with spam.

2014-04-22 09_25_38-Did you know – Help is on the way! _ Evidentia

And of course there are various menu options just a click away! we would especially like to draw your attention to the User Support Forum, a new Google Group where you can report any issues you may be having with the program.

We want you to be successful with Evidentia, and try to provide lots of ways to help you reach your goals.

Did you know – What’s in a Name

The best tips answer questions people actually ask.  This question came from an Evidentia user yesterday:

“I have many subjects with the same way – is there a way to help me tell them apart in the Subject list?”

In Evidentia v1, Evidentia would add the XREF number at the end of the Subject name when it appeared on a list. Additonally, during a GEDCOM import of Subjects, a birth year would be appended to the end of a name.

This created a different problem – those same appendices (appendages?) would appear in reports, where they made a lot less sense.

In Evidentia v2 we allow more flexibility, but we also do less for you automatically.

2014-04-22 09_12_59-Evidentia 2.1.0 - evidentia

In the List Manager, users can now create a Report Name in addition to the List name. As its name implies, the Report name is the name as it will appear in Evidentia reports. The Name filed defines how the name will appear in a list. Note the last name first and birth year in the List name.

2014-04-22 09_13_56-Evidentia 2.1.0 - evidentia

Here we have changed the Report name to be a little more ‘report friendly’.

I like the birth year strategy for the list name, but feel free to use whatever works for you!

Did you know – Temporary Memories

Another trick from our friend Linda Schreiber on the Evidentia Google+ Group

Essentially, I use this technique for all those things I knew, or thought I knew, about family from all those half-overheard conversations and memory fragments before I was 10 or 12. Some may be true, or partially true, and some might be completely wrong, as I made kid-assumptions from half-understood things. But some of the littlest bits can hold clues worth following up.

I start a new database and enter “My Own Memories That Relate To The Timeline Of Joseph Smith and Jane (Jones) Smith” as a TEMPORARY source and citation. Then I brainstorm, and create claims for any details that might relate to changing occupations, or residences, events, any little details that might help focus down on a time frame or place. I even note some old ‘things’…. A chair with the name and seal of a college on it, etc. Then I reorder the claims in what I think might be time-order. And more details come up as I work with it all.

This then acts as a rough outline for further research, living in Evidentia. It helps to know, beyond the basics, what I need to be looking for…. It may be the history of a particular company, which helped shed light on both probable occupation at the time and the reason for a move to a new area. It may be that I remember my mother being pregnant at a particular event, which narrows the event timing from half a decade to about a year, and helps me focus down in the hunt for documentation.

In one case, it was a property on a long country road that I had no address for and couldn’t find. I remembered that we were about a mile away from Lohiser’s Market [Had a serious crush on the son of the owners in first grade ;), so the name stuck.] Found a newspaper ad for the market, with the cross streets. This narrowed down my search for the property from many miles to the equivalent of a few blocks.

The chair with the college name on it…. It hadn’t been “Fenn College” for a long time. I knew I had attended the graduation as a young kid, but had no idea when it was. Researching the history of the college, and its name changes, let me focus down from “sometime in the 1950s” to a period of about 3 years. Then it was worthwhile requesting a search of yearbooks. Found him.

As those things are found, they are the real sources and citations. As they accumulate, and things tighten up, those are the proofs. I can then just delete the “My Own Memories” source, which also deletes all the equivocal and rambling claims.

Poof, clean. But a really helpful working process.

If there are individual cases where I was actually present, and was old enough to truly remember, and it is worthwhile to re-add a “Personal Knowledge” source and citation, I can do that properly. There aren’t many of those ;)

Thanks Linda!

Did you know – Research Notes

Did you know you can add research notes to a subject/claim type?

Simply select the “ToDo” button on the Analyze Evidence screen



This will open the Research Notes dialog



If a proof has one or more research notes already, the “ToDo” button will appear green.



And any research notes appear in the Proof Report under the ‘Recommendations for Continuing’ header!