Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bygones, a Freeware Genealogy Notes Program by Troy Adair

13 January 2007

Introduction to Speaker by Brian Cooper
Main Presentation: Troy Adair – Bygones, a Freeware Genealogy Notes Program
Troy worked as a professional genealogy researcher for 15 years, specializing in 20th Century Kinship Research. Along the way of his research he found the need for some specialized tools that would help him get the job done. He created those tools and now he is willing to share those with us. He has a Bachelor Degree from the University of Utah and a Masters Degree from the University of Washington. He lives in Bountiful with his wife and six children.

Troy Adair – Bygones, a Freeware Genealogy Notes Program
Bygones is a database program & set of databases to keep genealogical research notes with, and to also keep track of other information related to the genealogical research process, such as correspondence, people & offices you correspond with, information about useful sources and websites, and where they can be searched, etc.

Bygones, does not replace PAF or Legacy. I am going to refer to PAF and Legacy and similar programs as lineage linked databases in this presentation. Bygones, does not replace those it’s kind of like an electronic research log and database form. It is freeware so you can download from the website on the yellow sheet for free if you would like to try it. http://home.utah-inter.net/bygones/

Purpose and Importance of Genealogical Research Notes
I think genealogical research is similar to doing a research paper in school. When I was in school they taught me to keep my research notes mainly on index cards. Then after my research was done I could sort the cards and set aside the ones I decided were not applicable to my research paper. Then write my final research paper in a word processor where I would cite the sources but ignore some of the stuff that was in my research notes.

So I think that when you are doing genealogical research you kind of have the same two things. You have the research log, and your final family data. The research log and our research notes have some information in it that often does not make it into your family group data, that I think is useful to keep for future reference.

Contents of Research Notes
  1. Information on “positive” searches, including copies and/or extracts of documents and good citations of where found. (This information is also entered into our “lineage linked” genealogy programs.)
  2. Information on “Possible Relatives” with our surnames that we may later find are related to us, but that we don’t know if/how yet. (Often not entered into our “lineage linked” genealogy programs.)
  3. Information on “Ruled-Out People.” If our ancestors have common names, we may have had to do some searches on “wrong” families with “our” names, until we ruled them out. (Usually not entered into our “lineage linked” genealogy programs – but good to have info in case another relative asks how you determined which family was right.)
  4. Information on “Negative Searches”. Should include (a) good citation of source searched, (b) names & surname spellings/variations searched, (c) time period searched. Important so (i) we don’t waste time redoing search again, (ii) so we can later reevaluate search if we get new info or surname variations, etc. (iii) Negative searches can also be “circumstantial evidence.” (Not entered into PAF/Legacy, etc.)
Value of Research Notes After Family Group Data is Entered
  1. Our Genealogical Research Notes often contain important information the is not recorded in our “lineage linked” database; that
  2. May be valuable to us later.
  3. So, they are useful to keep for later reference.
I work for a company that does research in probate cases. Lots of time we have to go to court. They don’t just accept a census unless we add verbal testimony with it to introduce it into court. Going back to our genealogical research notes is important for our company.

Methods of Keeping Research Notes

1. Paper Research Logs and Notes
Advantages: Simple, Cheap, Doesn’t require having a computer. If you organize them well, you can find information within a minute or two.
Disadvantages: Can’t use the power and convenience of a computer to review and store them.
2. Word Processor: Use the “Table” feature to create a “Research Log”, can extract documents after the table research log.
Advantages: Most people already have, and know how to use a Word Processor. Simple to create and use. Can use the “find” feature of the program to find names, etc, in your notes.
Disadvantages: Doesn’t have all the features database programs do for handling data. Not as powerful reporting, searching, and sorting abilities.
3. Research/To-Do List Features in some Lineage-Linked Programs
Advantages: Features will vary with various programs.
Disadvantages: These programs are usually primarily designed for lineage-linked data rather than research notes.
4. A Database Program, like Bygones.
Advantages: Can be designed specifically for genealogical research notes. Can enter data once, then print out in multiple ways. Easy but powerful search and sort features.
Disadvantages: Steeper learning curve than word processor more complicated to use.

Advantages of Bygones or Word Processor
  1. Data entered into Bygones is more “dynamic” than notes recorded with a word processor. After the data is entered once, it can be viewed and printed in multiple formats; full research extracts, standard research logs, chronological research logs, locality + record type research logs, or on “document labels” for photocopies.
  2. The search and sort features of Bygones are much more powerful and useful than the search features in a standard word processing program. For example, you can easily “find” and then review together all the research extracts that include one person; or you can be more specific and easily and quickly find one specific research extract, as a marriage for a certain couple.
  3. An efficient way to record research notes. Most people can type quicker than they can write; and it is easier to read typed research notes than handwritten research notes. You can scan items into the program.
  4. Can copy and paste source citations & extracts between Bygones and your lineage linked genealogy program.
  5. Easy to take lots of research notes with you on a laptop when doing research.

Database Definition: A collection of data organized especially for rapid search and retrieval, as by a computer.

Database Basics: Fields & Tables
International Genealogical Index
Given Name
Birth Date
Birth Place
Death Date
Death Place
Father’s Given Names
Father’s Surname
Mother’s Given Names
Mother’s Surname
LDS Baptism Date
Baptism Temple
LDS Endowment Date
Endowment Temple
LDS Sealed to Parent Date
Sealed to Parent Temple

You enter data in a structured way and you can search by a specific field. It will allow you to create various reports in a way that can be useful.

Related Databases
Individual Database/ Table – Family Database/Table
Match Field
ID No. (RIN)
Father: ID No.
Mother: ID No.
Child 1: ID No.
Child 2: ID No.

Database Reports/Layouts
Individual & Family Data –
  • Family Group Sheets
  • Pedigree Charts
  • Ahnentafel Reports
  • Register Reports
  • Etc.
Before you use Bygones…
You should already have a system of organization for your research notes, since some field in Bygones refer to your research note files.

For every genealogical search you do, if you’re doing a census or marriage or whatever. You fill out a research extract. He showed us how to fill out a research extract. You click on create new extract. If copies a few fields for you that you can change of course. There are two fields at the top: Source No. and Source Name. Bygones, has a separate database called the sources database that is used to enter information on sources that you use a lot. You can use a source and enter it only once into the program. You can paste a source into your research extract and then edit it.
  • Log File Name: Every search that you record in Bygones needs to be assigned to a specific research log.
  • Extract Number: Is a consecutive number for this research log.
  • Date Search: The date I did this search.
  • Record Type: Obituaries, etc.
  • Locality: Where event took place
  • Research Objective: Checking obituary index for Walter Petitt.
  • Source Information: Automatically pasted this in. Bygones, doesn’t have a separate field for Author, etc. it is one long citation.
  • Repository: where you are searching this source at.
  • Format: Microfilm, etc
  • Call No.: for the microfilm
  • Research Notes: what you actually found in the source. Recorded obituary information. Extract the document into the program and his note field into your genealogy database program.
  • Search Result Summary: Positive or Negative results
  • Event Data or Search Period: YYYY/MM/DD
Demonstrated how to view the data in different ways.
  • Research Log: has results for each search
  • Chronlogical Research Log: timeline of the family
  • Locality and Record Type Research Log
  • Can print out labels for your documents photocopies with the source citation on it.
  • You can copy the data and paste it into your lineage linked database.

Showed how to do a search
  • Went to the sources database and switched to the find mode. Had four sources on Utah deaths.
  • Copied one sources URL to do a search online
  • Found record wanted and copies the digital image found.
  • Went to Research database, clicked on Research Extract Form and clicked on new extract.
  • Referred to source used previously to help fill out the form.
  • Used button to link the stored image to the extract form. You can enter digital scans
When you are using the Research Database
  • You can create a new research extract form for a search you are planning on making. You can note it as a pending search. Then when you are at the FHL you can look up all the searches you had planned there. This will help you more efficiently use you time while there.
There is a Correspondence Database that you use to keep track of correspondence.
Showed how to record writing for a death certificate you can use the Contact Database with this.
Bygones, has a Forms Letters Database that can help you fill out the letter you sent to them. When you get a letter back from them you can record your results. You can send this information to your Research Log so it copies over.

The main database in Bygones, it the Research Database, it’s used to record your research notes. It’s important that you always enter the Research Log file name exactly the same way, or it will cause Bygones some confusion.

There is a Log File Database before you can refer to a Research Log File Name you have to enter it in there. Unless it’s entered in there Bygones won’t allow you to type in anything else in this field. It forces you to be real consistent.

The Locality Database serves two purposes. It helps you be consistent in how you enter localities. In this database if you want to note any information about a locality you can, like when it was created. What other counties it was created from; when they had a fire that destroyed records. You can see what localities you have entered in the Source Database. You can scan maps in. You can either view the maps from the Maps Database or from the Locality Database. When you enter in localities it is best to go from the largest to the smallest localities, so when you sort by that field then all the cities in a certain county will be grouped together.

The Contact Database is a place where you enter names and addresses. You can enter a genealogists name and like them to whatever locality the research in.

The Surnames Database is a simple place if you want to note surname variations. You can also note the soundex codes for the surnames. It has a Given Names Database where you can note what the spelling would be in a different language. You can also note nicknames for a given name.

There is an Index Database it is kind of like a personal IGI, so you can enter index entries for the people that you have noted in your research notes.

You can’t run the program off of a PDA, you need to have a laptop or general computer. It does run on both Windows and Macintosh computers. If you have your computer set to run Java Applets there are some tutorials on the website similar to what I tried to cover today.

If you download the program try to play with the sample research folders first before you transfer it over to your main database that will have your final data. The program is for free. I don’t provide a lot of technical support. There is a user group that can help answer your question. I try to maintain and provide the program for free.

This presentation is available on DVD #105 for UVPAFUG members to borrow or purchase.


  1. You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view

  2. I didn't understand the concluding part of your article, could you please explain it more?