Recently I have been discussing sources, citations and documentation in GenDetective, and this column will conclude the series. The third pillar in our document/proof assembly is the documents, and in particular our vital documents. In general, our three genealogy pillars breakdown along these lines:
- Sources tell us where we found something (book, microfilm, newspaper, cemetery)
- Citations tell us where in the source we found something
- The documentation (multimedia files) is a record of the information found in the source at the cited location
What are the vital documents? Those documents that we gather from a government agency, the ones that provide us with much sought-after proof about our relatives. They include:
- birth certificates
- death certificates
- marriage certificates and licenses
- probate records
- property (assets & deeds) records
In lieu of an actual birth or death certificate we seek a register entry, a birth or death recorded in a county or town government book or a baptismal certificate from a church. Many genealogists maintain an inventory of the documents we have secured in spreadsheet, identifying the records that we still need to send money to a government agency to secure.
In GenDetectve with the press of a button you can get a listing of all of the vital documents you have acquired.
What do each of those little squares mean?
- Check – I have the document!
- Empty square – I do not have the document
- Gray filled in square – I have a reference to an index that points to the document, but not the actual document.
Which of those vital documents can you inventory with this report?
- Birth certificates/registrations
- Birth indexes (baptismal index)
- Death certificates
- Death indexes (SSDI, or cemetery markers)
- Marriage licenses
- Marriage indexes (newspaper notices)
- Probate records, including wills
- Property (land records, assets, etc)
- Cemetery Markers, for those who track located grave sites using a source instead of an event
How do you make this all work? In GenDetective we identify the sources that correspond to the different documents, and voila! This is so exciting and I am simply thrilled that I no longer have to maintain a spreadsheet to track the documents I have and which ones I still need to order!
Are there any other certificates or documents that you track in an inventory that you would like to see included in this report?