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The Evidentia Experiment – Progress Report #1

Last week I posted about the Evidentia Experiment I am currently doing. The goal is to document 5 generations, starting with myself, using Evidentia. The results will then be exported into a GEDCOM file and imported into a clean RootsMagic database.

This week I wanted to describe my process as well as report on my progress.

The Process

Step Zero- Gather the Records

fsI hate citing sources as much as the next person. The only way to minimize this part of the process right now is to import citations directly from FamilySearch, so if I can find a record there first, I jump on it.

Why did I call this Step Zero? Two reasons. First, this is a step one has to perform for any type of research, so it’s not particular to the Evidentia Experiment. I will not be including this step in my timings. Second, it also allows me to synchronize the titles of the next few steps with the four tasks identified in The Evidentia Companion ūüėČ

I am working one generation at a time, so starting with my grandparents, I look on FamilySearch, make sure my grandparents are entered into my Family Tree, and start searching and attaching records. I look for all census records I expect them to be in and attach them. I look for birth information for each, then repeat for marriage, death and burial.

I then repeat the process on Ancestry.com. I will focus mostly on filling the gaps, records I can’t find on FamilySearch.

I finish off with a search on genealogybank.com, looking for any reference to my grandparents in newspaper records (esp obituaries).

Once I have the records for all 4 grandparents, I move on to Step One.

Step One- Identify the Sources

shiny_stopwatch_vector_535279This is where I start the timer.

Evidentia allows me to match persons in my Evidentia database with people in FamilySearch, so I match each of my 4 grandparents. I can then import all the attached sources, bringing over the citations as well. This process does not include creation of a source listing, just a citation listing, but since Evidentia doesn’t currently use Source listings, that’s OK by me.

Citations for Ancestry records have to be entered ‘old school’, so I will use Evidentia’s template system.

Step Two- Catalogue the Sources

2016-02-22_16-44-28The focus now shifts to one source record. Before cataloging the source, I make sure I have attached an image of the record – it just makes it easier to find later.

As mentioned last week, I plan to fully catalogue and tag each record collected, including family members and persons of interest not in my direct line.

Step Three/Four – Analyze the Evidence

Once I have all the records for all four grandparents cataloged, I will create a proof of birth, marriage or spousal relationship, death, burial, and relationship with father, and relationship with mother. That is up to 6 proofs per person.

Step Five- Transfer the Conclusions

Finally, after each generation is complete, I will export a GEDCOM file for each person (one at a time) and import them into RootsMagic. There will be some merging involved, since there will be a large number of overlapping records.

Progress To-Date

So its been two weeks since I started – how is it going?

Myself ‚úĒ

I completed entering my Birth and Marriage records, and was relieved to find no death or burial records.

I also don’t appear in any census records prior to 1960, no matter what some of you may think.

I created proofs for birth, marriage, relationship with father, and relationship with mother.

All of this information was imported into an empty RootsMagic database. The pump has been primed.

My Parents

I actually don’t have any source records for my parents. Why? I never asked…

I have asked now, but while I wait for those records to arrive, I move on to my grandparents.

My Grandparents

To date I have completed thru Step 1 for all 4 grandparents, and thru Step 2 for my father’s parents.

My father’s father appears in 4 census records, while my father’s mother appears in 3, two of them overlapping my father’s father.

I am averaging 20-30 minutes per census record for Steps 1 & 2. Older records take me longer because they include overlapping generations.

Overall I spent about 2.5 hours cataloging and tagging claims for my fathers parents, but keep in mind that the claims include information on THEIR parents, as well as information on my father.


I felt a real sense of accomplishment when I finished the records for my fathers parent’s. I had the good fortune to grow up with both sets of grandparents into my 20s and 30s. As a genealogist, it still feels good to have ‘proof’.

The process also takes me on a journey through their life. I never knew that my grandparents spent so much time in RI, or that for the first 10-15 years of their marriage they rented, rather than buying a home.

I look forward to taking the same journey with¬†my mother’s parents this week.

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  1. “Evidentia allows me to match persons in my Evidentia database with people in FamilySearch”
    I have not been paying enough attention! Did not know this….
    I am loving the experiment, Ed. Thanks!

  2. Waiting anxiously for the continued journey. This is exactly what I want to do. I have a long lineage, but I am starting to question the accuracy. Keep on the path, please!

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