Thursday, March 8, 2012

Using An Index For Genealogical Analysis

One of the most time consuming activities for the genealogist is library work. At least that's the way it use to be. [Still an important aspect for those of us who like to smell a good book every now and then!]

In many cases, large volumes of texts exist with pages and pages of information. However, most texts contain an index which directs the researcher to a specific page number with information about that individual and/or subject title. For the surname JONES [my surname], the list is extensive with all those Johns, Williams, Richards, Thomases, Marys, Elizabeths, and the like. Likewise, the researcher may only have "clues" as to which John or Mary is important. Taking the time to "look up" each Jones listed [or any other surname], is sometimes necessary. Often, it will be more helpful to analyze the index before looking at each individual reference.

The figure to the right gives such an example. It uses a reference text entitled, Jefferson Co., VA-KY Early Marriages. Book I: 1781 - July 1826. This reference lists early marriages recorded in Jefferson Co., now KY in chronological sequence.

The first step is find a bland page such as notebook paper, copy paper, or graph paper. [By now you should have tons of graph paper!] The next step is to to find the length of the book or reference that contains the information. [This book is 200 pages.] Next, you select a scale between 1 and 200 that would represent the page numbers in the text. You place this scale along the top of the page and leave room for the alphabetical listing of the first names on the left hand side of the paper. You then turn to the index and begin listing the first names of all the JONES [or what ever surname you have chosen]. You place the page number of each along the scale at the point of each name. Thus you end up with a chart or table which list all names along a grid which fills up the paper. [Shown above] At one glance, each individual can be crossed reference for the same page number and approximate time period. Thus each person can be examined for relationship to all others listed.

This method allows the researcher to locate names which appear together (on the same page) without having to look up each name individually.

Table taken from an article written Jerry E. Jones, MD, MS, The Jones Genealogist, Vol. X , No. 6, March/April 1999 , pp. 5-7.

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