The Source View - part 1: extracting information and claims

Friday, June 26, 2020 by Fouke Boss

In Centurial, each and every piece of information is entered in the Source View. This way, Centurial is able to trace any piece of evidence back to the corresponding source. Now in the next couple of Centurial releases, the Source View will receive many new features and upgrades. This blog series will introduce each of them. In this first part, we'll take a look at the core features of the Source View.

Introduction

In the Centurial cycle, research is done by adding more and more sources to the research project and then analyzing all the evidence from these sources. To add a new source, select the Add a source option from the SOURCES menu. The Source dialog will pop up, and this dialog will help you to analyse and enter all the different details from the source you will be using, culminating in a well thought out source reference. The best place to start reading more on this would be this earlier blog post.

Once work in the Source dialog is done, Centurial will open a fresh Source View, readily waiting for new information and claims to be extracted. In Centurial v1.17 we are redesigning this view, as we are planning on many new features and upgrades for this view. At the time of writing this blog, v1.16 is the current version, and so the screenshots in this blog post introduce a first glimpse of the new design. Keep in mind that all the features of v1.16 will be available in this new design, too.

The Source View consists of 6 main panels, 5 of which are currently visible:

  1. The Source panel.
  2. The File Explorer.
  3. The Information panel.
  4. The Claims panel (not visible at first).
  5. The Actions panel.
  6. The Notes panel.

In this post, we will be introducing each of these panels one by one by means of an example source. The example we are using is the marriage register entry for Theodorus van Gogh and Anna Cornelia Carbentus, who were married on 21 May 1851 in The Hague. Later on, they were to become the parents of Vincent van Gogh, the well-known painter.

The Source panel

The source panel displays all the relevant information on the current source. All the information in this panel is derived from the entries in the Source dialog. The main piece of information in this dialog is the first reference note, which is a well-crafted summary of all the relevant source details. This first reference note will be used throughout Centurial to identify this particular source.

Also in this panel, you will find the classification of the source and the source date, which is the date on which the source was created, in this case the day of the marriage. This field becomes interesting later on when we start entering claims.

In order to update or improve on the details in this panel, click the button, which will re-open the Source dialog, like so:

The File Explorer

The first thing to do in the Source View when creating a new source is adding the relevant files to this source. Maybe you've scanned a certain document, or downloaded a scan, perhaps you have a PDF of some existing research report, or a Word document containing a transcription of an interview you conducted. The File Explorer is the part of the Source View that handles these.

The File Explorer allows you to add and remove multiple files, reorder them and export them. Documents can be viewed by double-clicking. Centurial comes with several separate viewers for different file types, usually you will be using the document viewer which displays scans, images, photos and PDFs. This document viewer allows you to zoom, move, rotate and flip the document.

A detailed description of all the features of the File Explorer can be found in this earlier blog post.

The Information and Claims Panels

The next step in the process is rather unique for Centurial. Using the Information Panel, we start extracting the person- and relationship information from the source. All this information together forms a small family tree. The Information Panel offers everything you need to draw this family tree.

In this example, after having a look at the marriage register, we find that the register contains information on the newlyweds, Theodorus van Gogh and Anna Cornelia Carbentus, and on both their parents. In this case, we can use the marriage template to quickly draw this little family tree, like so:

The Information Panel allows you to add, move, and remove persons and relationships in all kinds of ways; all of them are described in detail in this earlier blog.

Selecting one of the persons or relationships in the Information Panel (by clicking it once) will activate the Claims Panel, temporarily hiding the Source and Notes panels. The Claims panel is where you actually start entering the details of the selected person or relationship. Changes in the name and gender claims will also be reflected in the Information Panel:

A practical way of going through the claims in your document would be to start reading from the top, adding every claim you encounter in the text to the appropriate person or relationship. During the extraction process, it is crucial that you only enter claims that are actually present in the source.

Please note how in Centurial v1.17, the Claims Panel will no longer contain tabs; instead, it has become one scrollable list of claims, allowing quicker access to the various facts.

Person claims

Currently, Centurial supports person facts like name parts, gender, age and status, birth and death, education, occupation and residence, and a couple of religious events. Simply select the claim you want to edit, and start typing. Some of these facts deserve some additional explanation:

Fact Description
Family Name The family name field can also be used for family name prefixes, like 'Van' in 'Van Gogh'. Centurial will be able to distinguish them and display them correctly according to the current settings.
Given names This field also supports initials, in case a source does not contain the full given names of a person. Enter them either as AC (all caps), A.C. or Anna C.
Gender The gender can be selected from a dropdown list: Male, Female and Intersex.
Age Age can be entered as years, months, weeks and days.
Dates Dates can be entered using several calendars; Centurial will convert them later in the process. Also date ranges are supported. For more info, please read this blog post.
Time Timestamps are entered in the format hh:mm, hours and minutes.
Places Places are currently entered as free text. Towards the end of 2020, support for places will be greatly improved. In the meantime, separate the various parts of a location by commas, for example Zundert, the Netherlands.
Status facts

Several facts are so-called status facts. These facts represent the status of a person at a specific point in time. Residence is a good example: a source could state that a person is living in some village or city at a specific date.

Therefore, entering a status is a 2 step process: first, you enter the value of the status (the village or city), and next, you enter the date on which this status was true in the adjacent date field.

The button to the right of the date field allows the user to sync the status date with the source date. In this example, the marriage entry is dated 21 May 1851 (the source date), and most status facts in the document, like age, residence and occupation, represent the status on that particular day.

Status facts in Centurial include age, vital status, nationality, residence, education, occupation and religious denomination.

Relationship claims

The two most important claims for relationships are partnership and parent/child. These claims express if the relationship between the two persons is a partnership and/or a parent/child relationship. For a parent/child relationship, you can also change the direction (who is the parent, who the child) and the parent/child type (biological, adoptive, foster). In special cases, a relationship could be both a parent/child relationship and a parnership; that is why Centurial allows both options at the same time.

During day-to-day use, however, both these claims will be set automatically by Centurial when using the Information Panel. For example, when adding a child to a person in the Information Panel, the corresponding Parent/Child claim is set accordingly.

Whenever a relationship is marked as a partnership, claims form several additional events can also be entered, like marriage banns, marriage and divorce.

Multiple claims

Another special Centurial feature is the possibility to add multiple claims for a single fact. Every now and then, you will encounter a single source that actually states multiple, sometimes conflicting claims for a single fact. Examples include family name spelling variations between clerk and the appearer (sometimes visible from the signature) and mismatches between the stated age and birth dates. Also, sometimes a source contains a list of residences or occupations through time.

To add a second (or third, etc.) claim to a fact, use the button directly to the right of the claim; a new line will be added for the corresponding fact. The example in the next section demonstrates this. Use the button to remove a claim.

Copying and pasting claims

Claims can be copied from one fact and then pasted into another fact. This will usually only work if the facts contain the same kind of information. To copy the claims of a fact, select Copy from the context menu; then move to the target fact, and select Paste from the context menu.

Please note how, in case of multiple claims, all claims will be copied.

Closing the Claims Panel

The Claims Panel will be visible as long as a single person or relationship is selected. To close the panel and return to the Source and Notes panels, either unselect the selected item in the Information Panel or use the close button in the top right corner of the Claims Panel.

Auto Correlation

After all information and claims in a source are extracted, the time has come to merge the small family tree in your source into the larger family tree of your research. In Centurial, this process is called Auto Correlation, with the 'auto' prefix indicating that this process is initially performed automatically by a nifty algorithm. Afterwards, correlations can be improved manually.

As correlation is the core process of Centurial, several blog posts have already been dedicated to this particular subject, both from a practical and more theoretical point of view. For this blog post, the main thing to take away is that after extracting all information and claims, hit the Auto Correlate button to continue to the next step in your research process.

If the information has already been correlated, this will be indicated by a icon in the top right corner of the Information Panel. It will no longer be possible to add persons or relationships. You will, however, be able to add, remove or edit claims for persons and relationships, and Centurial will update all other views accordingly.

If you really need to add persons or relationships to an already correlated source, use the Uncorrelate button, make your changes, and auto correlate once more.

The Actions panel

The Action panel contains several useful actions that can be performed on a source. The first two icons allow you to change the layout of the Source View. The first icon represents the layout that you've gotten familiar with in this blog post. The second icon allows you to switch to a layout in which the Information and Claims Panels claim all the available screen real estate. This layout is useful for sources that contain large numbers of persons.

The View Online action is only available in case the source was found on the internet, and the URL was copied into the Source dialog. With a single click, your prefered browser will open the original website where the source was found.

The Export and Copy actions allow you to copy the complete source, including all source details, files, information and claims, to either a file on disk (export) or to the clipboard (copy). The source can later be imported into a (possibly different) research project by using the Import a File or Import from Clipboard options from the SOURCES menu, respectively.

Finally, the Delete action allows you to completely remove the source from the research project, including all files, information and claims. If the source was already correlated, this will also remove all evidence from this source.

The Notes panel

The Notes panel allows you to enter any notes for your source. Currently, this field is a bit of a free-for-all text field, that is used differently by different users. Some use it to enter transcriptions of the source, others use it as a to-do list, and yet others add some actual annotations. In future versions, starting with v1.17, dedicated fields will be added for each of these purposes, perhaps making the notes field itself redundant one day.

Summary

In this blog post, we went through the basics of the Source View step by step. In the upcoming releases, new features and improvements will be introduced; and we will make sure to accompany them with new blog posts in this series. But that's for another day.