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Where do I start?

Msg#: 4120432 posted 3:12 am on Apr 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I work at a small library and have been given the task of digitizing part of our historical collection, 3 large scrapbooks filled with birth, death, marriage notices from 1880-1920ís, and turning it into a searchable database. Currently I have almost finished the hand written indexes of the data and am moving towards inputting this into the computer. My idea would be once the pages are digitized I would be cropping each event individually and have a separate record for each one.

However, for some things I would need to have multiple search returns for the same picture. For instance, an obituary might have the name Mrs. Sarah Brown and also list her maiden name of Miss Sarah Green and I would want the search to return the same image if both names were search for. Is this where metadata comes into play? I was thinking of something along the way that the Library of Michigan did to digitize death records on this site: [seekingmichigan.cdmhost.com...]

I have no idea on where to start and any help would be great, let me know if I need to provide any more information on this or if something wasnít clear. Or point me in the right direction if I happen to be in the wrong forum.



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Msg#: 4120432 posted 10:43 am on Apr 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you do not have experience in entity-relationship modelling (the technique that explores the structure of your meta-data to give you a first cut database design) you could spend a lot of time building a sub-optimal database.

This requirement would take a rather more complex piece of database design than you expect at first sight but there is so much geneological stuff on the web that there are probably some standard models around by now.

My first cut would be to split the meta-data into
Event Types

A person has one or many names
An event relates to one or many person-names at a location on a date (John Doe witnessed the marriage of John Smith and Jane Brown at St Micheal's Church ...)
An event is of a type (birth, marriage etc)
A document relates to one or many event-locations (census return shows all the houses in a street)

Don't even think about the web page until you have got your database right. It will take a few iterations and its always best to walk through your design with somebody else. My suggestions are nowhere near definitive, just a couple of minutes guessing based on a career in data design and an interest in family history.


Msg#: 4120432 posted 6:05 pm on Apr 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the information. In terms of starting the database where should I start? Should I start to learn how to use php and mySQL? Or is there something else out there that would be a better fit for what Iím looking to do.


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Msg#: 4120432 posted 1:10 pm on Apr 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Start by learning generic SQL then apply it to whatever DBMS you choose.

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