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There are lots of standalone software packages as well as websites which appear to be primarily based on a pedigree view - start from me and work my way back. These systems seem to take the view that there is one unique known truth, but this is often not that case. They do not appear to handle the management of information which is not (yet) attached to an individual particularly well.

Take the example where I have a marriage witnessed by a cousin - I know there is a cousin, but have no way to relate the individual without making some assumptions/guesses.

Are there any good systems that take an evidence based view, where I can enter all the information I have and then draw my conclusions to produce a pedigree rather than producing a pedigree with source citations hanging off it?

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While there may be some, I'm not familiar programs or the notion of packages/websites are primarily "pedigree view" based. (As opposed to packages that offer both pedigree view and profile view, where the users practice significantly influences how results are displayed to others.) –  GeneJ Oct 10 '12 at 19:41
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I would love to have a program like this. You should create it. –  JustinY Oct 10 '12 at 22:48
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This question seems to be asking for a list of software with a particular features. –  TamuraJones Oct 17 '12 at 13:05

9 Answers 9

Evidentia which has recently been released claims to be Source Centric Genealogy Software :

that supports your research by guiding you through the Genealogical Proof Standard, the standard by which acceptable genealogical conclusions are judged.

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Check out Clooz -- it may be exactly what you are looking for. It was originally developed by Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens, CG, of Ancestor Detective, LLC. She transferred ownership to Ancestral Systems LLC last year. They just released a major upgrade from version 2 to 3 this summer. Version 3.1 was just released last month.

"Clooz 3.1 is the premier research assistance tool and electronic filing cabinet for systematically organizing and storing all of the clues to your ancestry that you have been collecting over the years."

Source: http://clooz.com/features.shtml

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To answer this, I would have to ask a question first, which is: How do YOU define a GOOD evidence based system? Do you need something to record data that you read in censuses and BMD records? Do you want it to support reasoning? Do you want it to generate proper citations? What is it that YOU want it to do?

I for myself can think up a system with two tables, where one refers to sources, i.e. author, title, page and record numbers, and so forth, and the other mentions all the persons that you found in that source, and their roles. You can use these tables to store all the names you found, and if I were to have a dream app, it would be a button in my browser, that would automatically clip a record from a site like Ancestry or FamilySearch, and fill all entries for me. And as far as I know, that application does not yet exist.

With a system like this, you can browse through all recorded names, and when you decide that a name belongs to your tree, you add it to a classic tree based genealogy program, and record the person ID from that program in the person table. I have no way to automate that yet, but this is how my dream system would probably work for this.

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Have you looked at gramps? I haven't used it in exactly the manner that you're suggesting, but it seems flexible enough that you could amass evidence and then build your pedigree around it.

I have some "loose connections" -- people that I think are probably connected, and some evidence related to them, but I don't have them linked to me (yet?). Gramps seems content to let those people -- and their notes, references, etc -- sit in the database alongside my confirmed ancestors without any problem. When I can figure out how they fit into the bigger picture, I can link them to a particular family. (E.g. confirm that Pierre was indeed the father of Wilfrid.) Or if I discover that a given person is really an alias for a known ancestor, I can merge them -- preserving the facts that I know about both people, their relationships, and retaining the alias as an alternative name. I've had both of these situations occur at least a couple of times.

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There are several programs that allow you to enter information[1] and create, even associate unrelated or only possibly related individuals.

  • Recording information. In most cases, entering information is a matter of entering details using pre-established or custom event tags and duplicates of same, and then entering the appropriate source/citation information. Most programs limit the highly structured event information you can enter to names, dates and places, with additional details placed in notes/sentences. Terminology varies by program, but to my knowledge, countless programs support this recording information feature.
  • Associating unrelated persons (Associates). Gramps, The Master Genealogist (TMG), GenBox, RootsMagic and others allow associates of persons who are and are not somehow precisely related. In most cases, these persons are associated or linked by means of an event/tag. Terminology and functionality about this feature may vary program to program.

In your example, you mention the marriage [of someone linked/related in your tree] being witnessed by a cousin, whose more precise relationship is unknown.[2] The "associate" feature would allow you to enter that person to your family tree and link them as a witness/cousin to the marriage event of your known relation.

I didn't quite follow the line, "rather than producing a pedigree with source citations hanging off it." It seems to me that any entry you make to your database should be sourced, whether it is information or evidence. Ditto, regardless of whether all the individuals in your tree are precisely related or not related at all.

[1] I used the term information here, because in this context, it seems important to differentiate between information and the conclusion oriented "evidence."

[2] Although you didn't comment accordingly, the claim that the witness was a cousin left me in want of the reference to support your claim of that relationship.

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Custodian 3 is a program that was developed to support a British based One Name Study. It differs from Evidentia and GenQuiry which are based on the American Genealogical Proof Standard.

A wide variety of programs that are not genealogy specific are used in the course of research, so I wonder if any single program can perform all aspects of research.

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GenQuiry, which I am in the process of developing, may address some of your requirements.

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To me the question of source centric-software is much larger than the example presented: "a marriage witnessed by a cousin - I know there is a cousin, but have no way to relate the individual without making some assumptions/guesses." Cases like that, or my favorite, the unidentified survivors (nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great-grandchildren) mentioned in obituaries but not by name, can be handled with "Associated Persons" feature in Family Historian and other pedigree-based programs, or by research notes.

What I want is a program that is focused on the sources, and the evidence in the sources, that does not tempt the user into making a conclusion about the people in the sources in advance of any analysis of the evidence. For instance: in one of my focus places, I have at least three individuals with the same name (the person who married into my husband's family, his father, and his son). I would like to be able to tag strings of data within the transcription of a source, and identify them as names, addresses, occupations, financial information, and so on. Then I could run a query asking the program to show me all the pieces of evidence I have that are associated with this name at this street address, or with this name at this occupation, or so on -- so I can look at the body of evidence as a whole, without assuming that any one piece of it belongs to a particular individual. I want to be able to date-stamp each source so that I can put the data on a timeline. For example: If my family lives at 125 Main Street in Anytown, USA, I want a way to keep track of the fact that I have downloaded the tax map from the Anytown, USA website's GIS system and the property records associated with 125 Main Street, showing that the house which currently exists on the property was built in 1920, so the construction of the current house can be taken into account on that timeline. In cases where cities have re-numbered the streets, I want to be able to assign a place ID that would associate two different street addresses as the same physical place, depending on their time-stamps, so I can bridge the data across the street name changes, or separate street addresses which look the same but are actually not, because they belong to two separate eras.

In a paper-based system, one can make index cards for each source with the desired "talking points" on each one, and then sort them out into groups by hand, so you can see the patterns in the evidence. It is time-consuming to make and maintain such an index, but once you have it, it is easy to pull out the references for all the people who have lived at a particular street address. I haven't found a program yet that will simulate this process on the computer. One thing I'm looking at is the writer's tool Scrivener from Literature and Latte http://www.literatureandlatte.com/ -- since it has features to aid scriptwriters, it already understands locations, characters, and so on. Literature and Latte also has a non-linear note-taking tool in beta called Scapple which may be useful. Before this, I had considered using TiddlyWiki http://tiddlywiki.com/ but I had difficulty getting it to work.

Much of the information I am talking about could be extracted by using queries from existing pedigree-based software -- after the fact, when the researcher has already been forced to make a conclusion and link them to a particular individual. In a source-based system, there might be mini-pedigrees in a source (e.g. a census record), but not all sources explicitly state that information, and pedigree-based programs often force us to assign those relationships when they are not in evidence.

The advantage of template-based software such as Clooz might make it easier to extract equivalent information (e.g. finding all the records which say yes for the question whether or not the person is a veteran of previous wars, on some US Federal Census returns). But a useful source-based system would help the researcher use those results to drive other research.

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I just bought Scrivener for other reasons and realised I could use it for source management as well. I'll let you know how I get on. And happy new year! –  Verbeia Dec 31 '13 at 22:22
    
Happy New Year to you, too! Scrivener is great for digital management -- one of my projects has residence background information with property tax information, maps, city directory listings, etc. for street addresses I'm studying. –  Jan Murphy Dec 31 '13 at 22:33
    
This answer is probably more relevant to How Do You Transition from Person Based Genealogy to Record Based Genealogy? genealogy.stackexchange.com/questions/1471/… –  Jan Murphy Jan 7 at 17:22

I believe that what you are looking for is software that will allow you to 'catalog' evidence claims made in sources and allow you to 'accumulate' evidence for a claim type and subject for analysis and help you formulate a proof argument to support your conclusions. If this is close to being on target, you must take a further look at Evidentia, which has just released version 2.0 with some very nice enhancements. It can be found at www.evidentiasoftware.com.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with the company other than I am a satisfied user and have done beta testing for the product.

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Hi Paul, welcome to Genealogy.SE. –  lejonet Feb 15 at 23:14

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