Tuesday, May 9, 2017

More on spreadsheets (some mistakes)

Someone on the Excel-ling Genealogists Facebook group page wanted an example of how I use a spreadsheet to analyze data.

This is actually an old spreadsheet I did and now I want to go back and clean it up to make it better. In a nutshell, there were THREE Mathew Pattons in Augusta County, Virginia at the same time. I am trying to separate the three men.

DISCLAIMER: You will see that I am using Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, a three volume set of document abstracts that is available online. I normally harp on the importance of obtaining copies of the documents themselves but right now I am compiling data for a process of elimination. Abstracts are exactly what I need for this.

I inputted every entry for every Patton (not just Mathew). I also had a couple of newspaper clippings that helped differentiate the three. My mistake with the spreadsheet was that I needed columns for other people mentioned in the document so that I could pick up patterns of who each person was associated with. This was a big mistake because I have 354 documents entered! I will look through the old spreadsheet and see the max number of witnesses for an event and then create that many extra columns. 

Another thing I need to do is reverse the names so that they sort better. I need James Patton and Col. James Patton to sort next to each other so I need to do Patton, James and Patton, James Col. Titles are very important when trying to separate men with the same name. Another clue is when a man always used his middle initial.

I also want to add a column indicating the type of document. This won't help with the analysis but it will make it tidier. Since I will have associates listed I might get rid of the Event column completely and maybe add a comments column in case there is something really important I need to mention.

Anyway, I wanted to show an early attempt at a spreadsheet along with some ideas of how to make it better.




I will be able to sort by the person, the associates or the date. I can also sort using multiple parameters. The more ways you can sort your data, the easier it will be to see the patterns you need to see.

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