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The Evidentia Experiment

Last week I started a new project.  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.

Why document 5 generations?  Because I have always wanted one of those nice 5 generation fan charts I see at conventions.  Because I refuse to pay for a chart that may include unsupported.  Because I seldom get to use Evidentia, what with spending so much time enhancing it.

The Experimental Procedure

Beaker_and_Wacky_WallWalkersEvery experiment needs a well-defined set of parameters.

1.) For each direct ancestor,  I will collect and record

  • at least one record documenting the birth
  • at least one record documenting the marriage
  • at least one record documenting the death (if applicable)
  • at least one record documenting the burial location (if applicable)
  • each census record that the person appears in

2.) I will fully catalogue and tag each record collected, including family members and persons of interest not in my direct line.

3.) 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.

4.) After each generation is complete, I will export the GEDCOM for each person, import it into RootsMagic, and handle any source merges. The RootsMagic database will only include persons I have processed as defined above.

5.) I will share the proof results on FamilySearch Family Tree.

6.) I will post a copy of the proof reports for non-living persons on this website for review.

The Data

So 5 generations – that’s

1 – self

2 – parents

4 – grandparents

8 – great grandparents

16 – great great grandparents

PDVD_121The total will be 31 people, including 3 living people (myself and my parents).

That means 3×4 proofs for the living, and hopefully 28×6 proofs for the deceased, for ~180 proofs. ¬†I expect most of the proofs to be short one or two sentence summaries.

The Effort

When I mentioned this experiment last week in the Google+ group, there was an interest in how long it would take. ¬†I will try to offer weekly status reports that include approximate times to record and analyze the data. ¬†I won’t focus so much on how long it takes to find the records in the first place, as that will vary based on what resources people have access to, as well as their budgeted “genealogy time”.

My Expectations

I expect at the end of the exercise there will be some holes. I have collected most of the records I outline above over time, and I know some are missing. ¬†I will try to document where I think my search hasn’t been “reasonably exhaustive” in the conclusions of the proof arguments.

I expect things to go slow at first. ¬†Once I have my 4 grandparents fully documented, I hope to pick up speed as I go, or at least not lose speed, since many of the succeeding generations will have census records that overlap with previous generations, and I won’t have to re-enter¬†that data.

I expect that when I am done, I will have claims recorded for HUNDREDS of ancestors since the records for my 30 direct ancestors will include information on siblings and FAN club members.

I expect to learn a lot about Evidentia, and what changes need to be made in future versions to make this process easier.

I expect this experiment to take some time, not just because of the work involved, but also because I want to offer additional “Evidentia Meets” blog posts, and because I need to put time into developing Evidentia 3. ¬†(You ARE interested in Evidentia 3, aren’t you?)

My Hope

I would LOVE to have at least one other person participate in this experiment with me, and share their results.  I would love to have your blog on your own site or guest blog here about your experiences.

It’s a big effort. ¬†That’s why this is the Evidentia Experiment¬†and not the Evidentia Challenge. ¬†I know many of you are participating in the Genealogy Redo, and I applaud you for that. This is my version of the redo, but I don’t want to derail you from your journey.


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  1. I love this! I have tried the redo, but keep getting sidetracked and lost. I am going to start a new Evidentia database for my fresh start. I hope to have my four grandparents entered by the end of March. One a week seems achievable.

  2. A Great Experiment. I hope to follow you & attempt to do something similar. A new Evidentia database for my fresh start building a direct line tree.

  3. I will give this a go…new to evidentia. Perhaps this is a good way to get things going and understand this shift in thinking. I have [nearly flawless…anal retentive sources in Legacy Family Tree] Too bad they have to be entered again?

    I am a long-time Legacy Family Tree User (since it first came onto the market).

    1. Just copy and past the citations – don’t let them get in the way. The rest will probably be stuff you don’t have entered in Legacy (though some have made generous use of notes)

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