Tutorial - Correlate the Information

In this tutorial, we'll be taking a look at the correlation capabilities of Centurial. Correlation is the process of combining information about persons and relationships from different sources. For this tutorial I have created a special Centurial project. As you can see, it already contains some sources, but it does not contain any persons.

Let's switch to this first source, an 1889 census. I have already extracted all information about the Coenen-Cordewener family. Let's go ahead and correlate this information. To do this, I select one of the persons on the canvas, press the right mouse key, and from the context menu that pops up, I select 'Auto Correlate'.

Now a couple of things have happened at the same time. First off all, 10 new persons have been created in the project. These 10 persons are based on the information in the source and they are represented by the larger, currently empty rectangles in the Network Diagram. Secondly, smaller rectangles have been added to the bottom right corners of the larger rectangles. These represent the information from the source that is currently displayed. At the bottom of the screen, you can see the citation of this source. Thirdly, the 10 persons that are just created are also added alphabetically to the Person List. From here, you can center them in the Network Diagram using the context menu from the right mouse button. You can also double click in both the Person List and the Network Diagram.

When I press the close button for this source, the information from this source is merged into the larger rectangles. They now contain all available evidence for each person. By placing the mouse pointer over a person, the tool tip appears to show even more details.

Now let's make things a little more interesting. I open a second source: the birth certificate of Hendrik Coenen. Again, I auto correlate the information in this source. The Network Diagram still shows the evidence for the ten persons from the first source in the larger rectangles. But now in the smaller rectangles the information from the second source is displayed.

Let's take a closer look at the mother of the family first. Centurial has automatically correlated the information about Anna Catharina Cordewener in the second source to the information about Anna Catharina Cordewener in the first source. Let's think about this. How can Centurial be sure the Anna Catharina Cordewener's from the 2 sources are the same person? Well, it simply doesn't. Even worse, no-one will ever be absolutely sure that these 2 persons are actually the same. No-one currently alive was present when the 2 sources were created, so there's no way to be absolutely sure they are about the same person.

On the other hand, what are the odds that in a single small village, in a single period of time, there were 2 distinct women both named Anna Catharina Cordewener, both married to a fellow named Coenen? Based in this observation, we can quite safely assume that we are in fact dealing with one single person. So that's exactly what Centurial has done automatically. Since there are no contradicting claims in the two sources for Anna Catharina Cordewener, Centurial has assumed it's safe to go ahead and correlate the information from these two sources.

But not so much for her husband. The first source claims his name is Jan Jozef Coenen while the second states the name as Jozef Coenen. That's not a 100% match, so Centurial does not correlate the two. But a closer study of the text in the birth certificate shows that the father was not capable of showing up at the civil registration due to illness. Instead two other men from the same village turned up and declared that Jozef Coenen was the father. They probably did not know his full given names. So for now I think it is safe to assume Jozef Coenen and Jan Jozef Coenen are in fact the same person.

I can update my project with this assumption by using drag&drop. I first click on the information rectangle for Jozef Coenen, and I keep the mouse button down. Then when I start moving, the information rectangle simply drags along. When I move my pointer to the larger rectangle for Jan Jozef Coenen and let go of the mouse button, Centurial understands that I want to correlate the information of the two persons. It immediately updates the Network Diagram to display this new configuration.

For the purpose of this tutorial, I pretend to overlook that these two Hendrik Coenens are probably the same person as well. So as far as I'm concerned, Centurial now displays the best possible family tree based on the currently available information.

Now let's go back to the first source. As you can see, a lock icon in the top right corner reminds me that the information in this source is already correlated. I can now select one of the persons in the source, and from there, view the information from that person in the network. Again we see the information from the first source in the smaller rectangles, but this time the larger rectangles for the persons that are in the second source are no longer empty. Instead they show us the evidence from the second source. So an empty rectangle simply indicates that only the selected source contains information about that person.

Next I open a third source, the death certificate for Jan Jozef Coenen. Again I auto correlate. And again Centurial assumes (correctly as far as I know) that the information for Anna Catharina Cordewener and Jan Jozef Coenen can be correlated. However Centurial also adds a new child to the family whose nickname is Leonard. A quick inspection of the tool tips tells me that this is probably Jan Leonard Coenen, stating only his nickname to the civil registry clerk instead of his full given names. Using drag&drop, I correlate the two. Then I close the source.

Some time later, I am going through the list of persons and I notice there are 3 Hendrik Coenens in my research project. I decide to investigate this. To do so, I select the first Hendrik by clicking his name. While pressing the Control button on the keyboard, I select the second and third Hendriks. Then, with the mouse pointer on one of the three Hendriks, I press the right mouse button, and from the context menu I select 'Correlate'.

In the Correlation dialog that pops up, I can see the 3 Hendrik Coenens, including their known birth and death dates. For each person, I can also see the available evidence in the smaller rectangles. The tool tips for these rectangles show all information for that particular source. Based on these tool tips I deduce that the two Hendriks from 11 july 1884 are probably the same person. I can update Centurial to reflect this by dragging the infomation for one of them and dropping it on the other person. Centurial again correlates the two persons and even updates the Network Diagram in the background accordingly.

I could even try to combine the third Hendrik Coenen into the first two as well. But then Centurial shows us a warning stating that the information from the two Hendriks cannot be correlated because they both originate from the same source. Indeed, our first source states that this family had 2 children named Hendrik. Centurial automatically reverts my proposed correlation.

Let's end this tutorial with some final remarks. Firstly, please note that we can select a person and review the correlation of all its evidence at any time by opting 'Uncorrelate' from the context menu. This works in both the Network Diagram and the Person List.

Secondly, please note that Centurial also checks for loopbacks. As an example, I have added a source containing the parents of Anna Catharina Cordewener. When I try to correlate the information on Hendrik Coenen to his grandfather, Centurial detects a loopback. This correlation would cause Hendrik Coenen to become both a child and a parent of Anna Catharina Cordewener, and so Centurial correctly prevents this from happening.

Thirdly, we have already seen the lock icon that indicates a source has been correlated. Once a source has been correlated, I am no longer allowed to add or remove persons from the source. I am however allowed to change the information for persons and relationships, perhaps correcting a typing error, and these changes will be processed correctly. If it turns out I forget one or more persons and actually need to add them to the source, I can always unlock the source by selecting 'Uncorrelate' from the context menu of the lock icon. This unlocks the source but also removes all evidence from this source. Then later on you can always auto correlate the information once again.

Lastly, please note how Centurial allows changes in correlation at any time in the research process. Even after many years of research, new sources might lead to changes in the way the information is correlated. Even then, Centurial will manage all information from the different sources, and will correctly update the persons in your research project to reflect these changes.

We hope this tutorial has demonstrated the many ways a user can correlate information from all different sources. This unique feature makes Centurial true evidence-based genealogy software.