Thursday, October 14, 2010

Family History Month - NUMBERS

~ Today's prompt is brought to you by the letter N~

Genealogy consists of names, dates, places, events, stories and photographs.  A big part of the data entry associated with genealogy involves numbers ~ birth, baptism, marriage, death & burial dates to name just a few.  The generally accepted method of entry for dates is day-month-year (the European method) with the first three letters of the month spelled out (i.e., 01-Oct-2010).  Is this the number system you are using?  Why or why not?  Have you ever received a family tree or chart and not been able to determine the date of an event because it was put in all number order (01-10-2010) - is that January 10th or October 1st?  Perhaps the year was listed with only two numbers (07) - is that 1807, 1907 or 2007?  Granted you can spend some time with the information and usually figure it out but why not enter it clearly in the first place? 

Most genealogy programs (both computer database and paper-based) assign a number to each person and each marriage in your family tree.  GEDCOMs number individuals based on the family group to which they belong.  Articles and books go into great detail on the numbering systems in genealogy (the ahnentafel or Sosa-Stradonitz numbering system, the register system or the modified register/ngs system).  One excellent article discussing the various numbering systems is Genealogy Numbering Systems

Whether you use one of the systems mentioned or make up your own, have you made an index of your numbering system that shows the individual and the number(s) assigned to him/her?  I use Legacy Family Tree and have assigned RINs (record identification numbers) and MRINs (marriage record identification numbers) for every individual in my database.  These numbers are part of my computer and paper-based filing system.  I make sure that the I do not reassign abandoned RINs and MRINs and that I do not renumber my RINs and MRINs.  In addition to backing up my genealogy database on a regular basis, I also save an index of my numbering system so that if anything goes wonky I can recreate my numbering system.  For those of you who use a software program, on the off chance that some gremlin wreaks havoc with your database, have you backed up your database and your numbering system?  For those of you who use a paper-based system, how do you keep track of your numbering system?

Today, spend a little time reviewing your numbering system and making sure it works for you.

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