Chamberlin, David C. The Conceptual Approach to Genealogy: Essential Methodology for Organizing and Compiling Genealogical Records.

Bountiful, UT: Heritage Quest, 1998. 264p.; softcover. $24.95. ISBN 1-877677-87-6.

Many novice family researchers forget that locating relevant information is only the first step: In order to interpret and link bits of information meaningfully to each other, it must all be logically organized, correlated, and then evaluated. Heaps and piles of unrelated notes and photocopies just won’t do. One needs a “system.” The author’s extremely detailed system for carrying out research and organizing the results includes most of the steps recommended by other writers:

Plan your project (so you’ll know what you’re looking for), extract information exactly as given (even if you think or know it’s wrong), and don’t mix sources (or you won’t know who said what). His description of the use of a detailed research log is especially good, as is his reasoning in regard to accuracy and consistency. When it comes to organizing, identifying, and indexing the source material extracted, however, he goes off in a somewhat different direction . . . and it may help to know that Chamberlin is a mathematician specializing in electronics and computer science. Thus, his discussion of a logical method of numbering the extended lines in a pedigree chart leads to a discursion on the meaning of the radix in positional notation and the utility of the hexidecimal system — yet, he criticizes the almost universally used Ahnentafel numbering system because it’s too complicated! Chamberlin has a penchant for capitalized pseudo-technical jargon — Genealogical Coordinate System, Family Group Records (as opposed to family group sheets), Source Extraction Numbers, Era Correlation Keys, Life Numbers, Event Modifiers, and so on — although most refer to concepts that already are part of a conventional terminology of long standing among genealogists. (Chamberlin seems also to have trademarked many of his new terms, and he apparently had a genealogical computer program in development — though I’ve heard nothing more of it since this book appeared.) Moreover, he clearly loves acronyms, so that the reader must wade unnecessarily through FGRs, LNs, and ECKs in developing the GCS. Most readers will learn a lot from the chapter and exercises on “jurisdictional tracking” and the many examples of how information extracted from original sources may be interpreted are illuminating, but the frequent side-trips into math theory certainly can be passed over.

Published in: on 13 May 2011 at 6:50 am  Leave a Comment  

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