Mrs. Fran Smith, a professional genealogist, spends a great deal of time gathering bits of information often from ancient archives in order to put together family histories. This information can often be elusive and hard to find. While researching one individual, she sometimes encounters bits of information on another. But the time to investigate this second individual will come at a later time; first, she must complete the information on the targeted individual. Because of the nature of her research, she is often left with an immense amount of paperwork and very little in the way of easily tracking it or associating it to other information. Maintaining control of all this information, often in the form of notes on various scraps of paper, consumes an enormous amount of Mrs. Smith's time. This is time that Mrs. Smith says she would rather spend doing research. After reviewing several pre-packaged genealogy programs, she has yet to find one that does little more than map family trees. These trees can only be mapped after the information has been found and verified. She expressed a strong need to put her notes together in such a way that would make the information more convenient to locate and tie together. She expressed a formidable frustration at having spent time looking up information on an individual only to discover she already had it but couldn't find it easily. For my senior project, I proposed to create a database that would allow Mrs. Smith to catalog and cross-reference her data.
I choose to do this project since databases, a necessary part of business, are also an area of interest to me. This will be valuable experience for my future as a UNCA Computer Science graduate. She sees this application as being a valuable tool not only for her, but also for her colleagues in the genealogical field. Her main objective with this database is to use it as a note-keeper. The information contained in this database is to include the surname of a family under research, the given name and other pertinent information of the particular individual under focus. This database is meant to help in keeping information already located in an organized fashion and thus save time. From these notes, she can then build a family history.
I used Access to create the database. It is a package that seems to be gaining a degree of popularity among businesses because of its ease of integration with Windows. The experience of working with Access may be transferred to other database applications as there is some similarity. It is also a package that is of interest to Mrs. Smith since it merges well with other databases, and the data from it can be easily imported or embedded into Word as well as other Office programs and related software. It not only has a satisfactory back end for the database, but it also has an excellent GUI front end. I have created forms for Mrs. Smith that are streamlined, attractive, and functional. Microsoft offers toll-free technical support on this product twelve hours a day for problems that may arise as an additional incentive.
After speaking with Mrs. Smith, it is clear that although she would like for this system to function on an older 486 if possible, she owns a Pentium 133 MHz computer. I have done the majority of the work at my home on a compatible Pentium using the same version of Access that Mrs. Smith owns. This version will run on any computer capable of running Windows95.
Advisor: Charles Massey