Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Some Mistakes to Learn From

(This post is part of a series about my research of Fitchburg architect H.M. Francis)

Hindsight is always 20/20.
Looking back on last year's inventory efforts, I'm beginning to see gaping holes in information that should've been fixed before.
The main issue seems to originate from my use of a legend to make sense of what plans were physically on-hand at the Historical Society. The system that was intended to make the inventory more accessible ended up making it more daunting.
After examining ways to clean the data from last year, I made the bold decision to essentially start the inventory over again.
This time, rather than using Microsoft Excel, I'm using FileMaker. FileMaker will allow me to make multiple lists of information and import them into one master list. I'm sure Excel has similar capabilities, but the user-friendliness of FileMaker is what won me over.

The information map will basically look like this:

A list of Francis structures, dated 1987
A list compiled by a past researcher, dated 1997 
A list made from MACRIS
List made from physical blueprints, drawings, etc. on-hand at the Historical Society
The final inventory.

By using four distinct lists it will be easy to synthesize the final data for cleaning and verification.
Duplications and gaps in information will be more easily identified and corrected.

At the completion of the final inventory I'll be able to use city directories, and a housing survey done in 1999 to find more information about the clients of H.M. Francis & Sons which will help put many of these structures and homes into a more appropriate historical context. 

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