The chronicle of this woman's perpetual game of hide-and-seek with her ancestors
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Evidentia 2.0 in exchange for my inate ability to break things and tattle. I am also an affiliate for Evidentia – link at the end.
I’ve spent the last month or so in Beta testing for the new version of Evidentia (meaning that I tried to see how many different ways I could break it). Fortunately, none of my shenanigans were beyond repair, so I am happy to announce that the software is now ready for prime time!
Ed Thompson will be officially releasing Evidentia 2.0 (or “E2,” if you will) on January 31, 2014. Evidentia will also have a presence at RootsTech, so if you’re around, make sure you stop by his booth and check it out.
Here are my thoughts on the new stuff:
1. Digital File Manager.
This is – without a doubt – my favorite new feature. Instead of having to flip back and forth between my database program and my Evidentia screens, I can simply attach the document (or part of a document) to a source or specific citation. You have the option to have E2 manage your files for you – the files are copied to the folder you designate for your database (all my stuff goes to Dropbox) – or you can simply link to the documents and they will stay where they are.
Drawbacks: If you have E2 installed on more than one computer and all of your files are in Dropbox (like mine are for RootsMagic), and if you choose NOT to allow E2 to manage your files, you will encounter some difficulties with linked files. It’s an issue with the path to the Dropbox folders; even RootsMagic hasn’t figured out how to overcome this. I recommend just letting E2 manage your files and you won’t have any issues.
2. Dropbox connectivity.
I’m all about cloud storage these days (who isn’t?). So the fact that I can TELL the software to automatically store everything in Dropbox is something that will make a lot of people happy. All the backups, documents saved to E2, and databases are in the cloud. I think I heard a rumor that compatibility with GoogleDrive was also in the works …
Drawbacks: Any potential problems are the same as anything else you store in the cloud – if you don’t have internet access, you don’t have access to your stuff. Just make sure you have backups of everything.
3. Spell check. This is a feature that a lot of folks wanted, so I’m glad it has been implemented. Personally, I never make mistakes, so I could take it or leave it.
4. Themes. If you’re one of those people who gets bored looking at the same color all the time, then your prayers have been answered. You have several choices (I’ve tried to demonstrate them all in the screenshots throughout this post), but I prefer the default gold/tan theme. It’s easy on the eyes.
Drawbacks: Unless you’re one of those people who likes to assault your senses on a daily basis, the limited number of theme options may be a disappointment for you. Otherwise, none.
5. Naming for Reports. Have you chosen some convoluted naming scheme for your sources and citations? When they show up in the reports, does anyone (other than you) who looks at them say, “Huh??” Don’t worry, you can still have your cryptic source names – but now you can tell E2 to call them something else when it uses them in reports so other researchers can actually identify the sources you’ve used.
Did you import all of your ancestors from a GEDCOM file, and now all of their names are followed by (ca [year])? You can fix those too! You can assign a name for your ancestors that will be used in your reports.
Drawbacks: Yes, each source/citation/ancestor name has to be assigned one by one. Unfortunately, there’s just no quick fix for this, folks.
6. Collapsing and Expanding.
This feature is available on multiple screens in E2. First, on all the screens, you can collapse the right-side source and citation lists as well as the left-side menu, which gives you a LOT more space to work with your sources. On the Analyze Evidence screen (shown here), not only can you collapse right and left, but you can also collapse/expand the list of claims so you can focus on your conclusion OR you can collapse/expand your claim ROWS, so you ONLY see your claim (and not all the classification info, etc.) and you can focus on your analysis. This is also a helpful feature when you want to reorder your claims, since we still don’t have drag/drop capability.
Drawbacks: None. Still waiting on the drag/drop, Ed.
7. Enhanced List Manager.
Lots of new lists available in E2. Before, we were limited to a Subject (name) List and a Claim Type (fact) List. Now, we have the addition of a Template List, Sentence List, Reference List (more about this in a minute), Source Type List*, and Photo Classification List*.
The Sentence List is nice. Don’t you ever get tired of reading the same parenthetical information over and over (and over and over) for each classification in your proof reports? E2 now only prints the parenthetical info the first time, and uses a shorter sentence (editable to your preferences) each subsequent time.
*These are pertinent to the Digital File Manager, and I’ll have to expand on that feature in a separate post.
Drawbacks: I don’t foresee any.
At first glance, you’d think, “isn’t that what this software is all about?” Yes … and no. Let me explain. Let’s say you’re analyzing some evidence and you have a claim made by a census record. In your analysis, you take into account that the official census date was June 1. How do you know that? It’s not on that census page, is it? You probably had to refer to the rules for enumerators for that census year. But that’s not your SOURCE. What to do? Well, now you can click a button and add that REFERENCE to your analysis (so when you go back later, you don’t have to say, “how’d I come up with THAT?” I’ve heard of people who do that … I can neither confirm nor deny). These references are kept in a list so you can reuse them.
Drawbacks: Just more inputting citations – but if you’re into that, then none.
I think I’ve pretty much touched on everything I noticed that is new this go-round. I will probably be doing some more in-depth posts on specific features in the future, and may even be able to get Ed to participate in some G+ Hangouts on Air.
How can you get yours?
New users can download the software for free to try it out, and purchase (affiliate link) it with a discount of $5 off the regular price of $29.99 (if you want a copy on CD, regular price is $34.99 plus shipping).
Plan to upgrade? Don’t worry – there are discounts for you too! Upgrade for $14.99 (download) and $17.49 plus shipping (CD).
PREVIEW: G+ HANGOUT SCHEDULED TODAY AT 1 P.M. EST
Ed will be hosting a Google+ Hangout at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern) for anyone who wants to see version 2.0 in action, or has questions about the new version (or about all things Evidentia). Pop on over and say hi!
Do we share any ancestors?
As many of you know, the National Genealogical Society recently released the new book Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones, CG, CGL, FASG. Since then, I think nearly every person in the known universe has ordered a copy (or picked it up at the NGS conference last week), and most of those have been delivered.
True to form, Ed Thompson (developer of Evidentia) has been studying his copy of the book and has made a few changes to the software to reflect the new information provided by Tom Jones. So what, exactly, are these changes, and how will they affect your research?
1. New Source Classification category.
In Chapter 2 of Mastering Genealogical Proof, Tom Jones adds a new classification for sources: Authored Works. This category includes published or unpublished genealogies, city/county/state histories, etc. What it doesn’t include is any work that does not reflect analysis and/or conclusions reached by the author. For example, a booklet containing transcripts of marriage records would NOT be considered an authored work. It would be a derivative of original records.
2. New Information Classification category.
Also in Chapter 2, information is given a new classification: Indeterminable. This category is used when the provider of information in a particular source is not known. For example, in census enumerations prior to 1940, the informant is not identified (and sometimes not even in the 1940 census). Because we have no idea who provided the information to the census enumerator, it would be listed as indeterminable.
These are some other fancy updates that weren’t made because of the book, but because the people asked for them …
3. Update to the Mini-Editor
The awesome mini-editor that allows you to continuously enter claims made by a source without switching back and forth between Evidentia and your document has been made even MORE awesome! Now, instead of having to click the little “+” button to go to the next item, you can use “Ctrl+Enter.” My wrists thank you, Ed.
4. GEDCOM Import of Subjects
Folks have been clamoring for a way to get their GEDCOM into Evidentia for a while, and they have been heard! Developer Ed Thompson has provided this video tutorial showing how easy it is. You should refer to your specific genealogy program’s instructions for how to export to a GEDCOM from the database.
5. GEDCOM Export
6. New Options for Source Citations
Apparently not everyone cites their genealogy sources according to Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained. Some people like other citation styles (though I can’t imagine why). So the citation options now include the Chicago Manual of Style.
7. Auto-Population of Residence Claim Type
It seldom occurs to me to add a “residence” claim type when I’m inputting another claim type. For example … if you are inputting information from a marriage record, do you automatically think “oh, I better include a claim that this person lived in this area”? Yeah, me either. Evidentia now has options that allow you to automatically add a residence claim when you add certain other claim types – such as births, deaths, and marriages. While each of these claim types will not always warrant a residence claim (think gretna green marriages, etc.), more often than not a person was married in or near the area where they lived.
8. New 5 Most Recent Claim Types
This is not a feature that I utilize very much because I find it easier to start typing the claim type and let it narrow down the list for me instead — but that’s just me. If you use the drop-down list to enter your claims, this will make life a little easier for you. For example, if you are entering information from a census record for a family you will likely be entering the same claim types over and over. Now you can just click on the drop-down menu and your 5 most recent claim types will be at the top of the list.
These are just some of the features in Evidentia. I encourage you to take a look at Evidentia’s website and YouTube channel … or better yet, take it for a spin (it’s free to try!) You can check it out here (affiliate link).
Do we share any ancestors?
(and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!)
I would like to extend a big thank-you to all who entered the Evidentia giveaway! I enjoyed reading your comments about those serendipitous genealogical moments. Unfortunately, there can only be one winner. So … without further ado, the winner is …
Congratulations, Brenda! I will contact you shortly via email to let you know how to claim your prize!
… and now back to our regularly scheduled programming.Do we share any ancestors?
Okay, so technically we ARE giving it away. You’ve heard me go on and on (and on and on) singing the praises of Evidentia. Well, here’s a chance to see for yourself!
From today until March 16, 2013, you can enter to win a free license for the new Evidentia software! Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day! Are YOU feeling a little luck o’ the Irish?
Here’s how it’s going to work:
1. Tell me about a time when luck (or serendipity) played a part in your genealogical research. You can reply in a comment to this post, or write your own blog post and share the link in a comment here.
2. At midnight (Eastern) on March 16, 2013, I will close the comments on this post. I will put the names of every person who followed the rules into the hat (okay, in this case it will be a jar), and have my unbiased, objective daughter (who – unfortunately – couldn’t care less about genealogy or anything related to it) pick a winner.
3. On Sunday, March 17, 2013, I will announce the winner here on my blog and that person will receive an email from me with instructions on how to claim their prize!
Here’s the small print: Only one entry per person will be accepted. If you don’t leave a comment, you will not be entered. You don’t have to be Irish to win.
Disclaimer: free license provided by Evidentia developer Ed Thompson specifically for this contest.Do we share any ancestors?
As I was working through entering my sources into Evidentia, I came across something that I thought might be interesting to those folks using Evidentia – and maybe even folks that aren’t.
First – what is “negative evidence”? Well, in Evidence Explained (2nd ed.) Elizabeth Shown Mills defines it as
For example, if Joe Smith was supposedly born in 1908, but he is not found with his family on the 1910 census, this would be considered “negative evidence.”
Negative evidence is just as important as all the other information you’ve gathered when it comes time to analyze your evidence. In the example above, Joe Smith SHOULD be with his family on the 1910 census, but he isn’t. Does this mean he died before 1910? Do we have the wrong birth date? Is he living with other family members? Are we looking at the wrong family? Negative evidence leaves many questions to be answered. This is why we can’t just ignore it and move on.
So when it comes to putting your information into Evidentia, how do you handle this negative evidence? Fortunately, it’s relatively easy. You handle it just like any other piece of information.
Let’s consider the 1910 U.S. census record for my great grandfather, Thomas P. Slowey:
Here, we see Thomas’ father John Slowey with his wife and 8 children. We can also see that Theresa has 12 children, 9 of whom are still living. With that information, we can infer that (1) at least one of her children is still alive, but not listed with the family; and (2) three of her children are no longer living.
When I enter this information into Evidentia, I have to change the direction of my thinking. Instead of approaching it from a standpoint of “What question does this information answer?” I approach it as “What question does the absence of this information create?”
Because I was already aware of the names of John and Theresa’s 12 children (all born before 1907), I entered the claim “Theresa Slowey is the mother of 12 children, 9 of whom are still living as of 15 Apr 1910.” Then all I had to do was add subjects and claim types:
The first subject I entered was Theresa (Burns) Slowey and assigned claim type “child.” Now, when I print a proof report to show the children of Theresa, this information will be included in the analysis.
Next, I added birth, death, residence, and parent claim types for each of the children who died. I did not include the living child as a subject for this particular claim, because I know she is listed with her husband on another page. However, I did add a separate entry stating that “Catherine Slowey is not enumerated with her family on the 1910 census” … with a census claim type and a residence claim type. Now if I need a proof report on Catherine’s residence, this evidence will serve to strengthen my analysis of her enumeration with John Nooney 2 pages before her parents.
I added a separate entry for each of the three deceased children stating that they were not enumerated with the family and added death and residence claim types, as well as a child claim type for John Slowey.
When we look at the Analyze Evidence screen in Evidentia, we will see that we have a few options under “Evidence Quality”: Direct, Indirect, and Negative.
I’ve used the residence of Anna Slowey as an example. Here, we see the claims I entered from the 1910 census. The first entry, about Theresa’s 12 children, does not directly answer the question “Where did Anna Slowey reside in 1910?” Therefore, this is indirect evidence. If we look at the second entry showing that Anna wasn’t enumerated with her family, this would be considered negative evidence. It answers the question negatively. Simplistically, “Anna did NOT live here in 1910.”
I’m not going to do any actual analysis of this evidence here today, because I don’t have everything entered yet.
Once you start looking, you’ll be surprised how much negative evidence you can find in the documents you already have. You never know, it may just help you break down a brick wall!
If you still haven’t tried Evidentia, check it out here (affiliate link).
Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com
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