Who’s Buried There Pt 2

RootsMagic 8 process

To begin with, I copied my RootsMagic 7 file for use in RM 8 so that I would be able to work with a similar marked group. I then imported the RM 7 file into RM 8.

To create the marked group, I clicked on the painter’s palette icon in the top left portion of the screen.

That opens the ‘Command Palette’. Within this list of commands are two commands related to groups, including one that allows for the creation of a new group.

Clicking on the first Groups opens the ‘Groups’ window.

Clicking on the ‘New’ Button, I’m asked to name the group. Having learned from the process in RM7, I used a shorter name this time.

This opens a RootsMagic Explorer window with ‘Mark’ and ‘Unmark’ buttons.

Clicking on ‘Mark’ opens a pull down menu allowing me to select ‘By Data Fields’.

Hoping to get a more specific marked group, I changed the selection slightly. Since I want to pull everyone buried in the Forest Hill Cemetery in Kansas City Missouri, I searched for burial place details containing Forest Hill and Burial place contains Missouri.

That pulled 11 people. Be sure to click the “SELECT” button in the lower left to save the marked group.

Now that the group is marked, I’m turning to the Publish screen to create the report.

I clicked on All Report and Charts to open the entire list of available reports. Scrolling down, I located the ‘Who Was There List’.

Clicking on that report, the screen to modify the report opened.

In RootsMagic 7, I put Missouri in the Place field, 1750-2020 in the date field and changed ‘Everyone’ to the group ‘Burial Forest Hill’.

Clicking on ‘Generate Report’ produces a report similar to that found in RootsMagic 7.

The second report I tried in RootsMagic 7 was the Fact List.

For this report, I changed the ‘Fact Type’ to ‘Burial’. Then I changed the Include? from Everyone to the marked group, ‘Burial Forest Hill’.

Clicking on ‘Generate Report’ produces a report similar to that from RootsMagic 7.

At this time, I don’t believe it is possible to create a custom report in RootsMagic 8. Thus, I can’t create the report showing name, birth date, death date, burial place and burial place details.

Who’s Buried There

(Note: I started writing this blog post a week ago using RootsMagic 7. About half way thru, I questioned why I was bothering to write this for version 7 when version 8 is in preview. Today, I elected to finish this post and then commit to a similar post using RootsMagic 8.)

Do you ever want a list of everyone in your genealogy file buried in a particular cemetery? If so, you are not alone.

I’ve recently been working thru hints for descendants of Zebulon Foster. As I’ve been working on that, I’ve noticed that several of them are buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri. Thinking that I have relatives from other lines also buried in that cemetery, I’d like to create a list of everyone buried there.

Thus, I’m (hopefully) going to create a marked group in RootsMagic 7 for that cemetery.

To create that group, I clicked on the ‘Groups’ tab at the top of my list of people and then clicked on the folder icon.

That opens the ‘Named Groups Window’ where I click ‘NEW’.

This opens the ‘Select People’ window where I can click the people I want in the group. However, if I click on the ‘Mark Group’ button instead, I get to other options for marking the group.

For this list, I want to ‘Select people by data fields’. Thus, I click on that option which opens the ‘Search for information’ window.

Since it is possible that I still have the name of the cemetery in the ‘Place’ field instead of the ‘Place Details’ field, I’m going to have to search both possibilities. Thus, I will use an OR statement to look for the word Forest in the place details OR in the place.

When I click OK, the software searches thru my data and reports back that it found 79 people with Forest either in the place details field or in the place field.

When I click OK on the ‘Marked 79 people’ box, it takes me back to the ‘Select People’ window. If I scroll thru my list of people, I find that there are check marks by some of them. Clicking OK on this window, the ‘Select People’ window closes and a new window ‘Enter name for the group’ window appears prompting me to name the group.

After entering the name ‘Burial Place contains Forest’ and clicking OK. Unfortunately, when I look thru the results, I discover that my search isn’t specific enough. One of the people in my marked group is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Thus, my search needs to get more specific. Since I can’t use parenthesis to group my search arguments, I will have to mark two separate groups: one for place details and one for place. (Note: I didn’t have anyone with the name of the cemetery in the place field.)

Now I have a group that I can use to create a report.

The quickest way to create a report listing these people is to use the ‘Who Was There List’ report. To create this report, I have to enter a place and a date range. Then I can use the filter option to select my group.

For this project, I’m going to enter Missouri for the place and 1750-2020 for the date. Then I’m going to select my ‘Burial Place Details Contains Forest’ group. (Note: I need to shorten my group names so that I would be able to tell them apart if I had more than one group for burial place.)

That generates a report listing the individuals in my group and what is known about each person.

Curious about whether other reports could also be used for this task, I investigated the ‘Fact List’ Report. With this report, I elected to create a list of “People with this fact type” and then chose the ‘Burial’ fact. Then I switched the ‘people to include’ from ‘everyone’ to my group: Burial Place Details contain.

When I clicked on the Generate Report button, I got a list of people in my group with their burial date and burial place. This report revealed that my group selection included was a little faulty since it includes a few people that are not buried in the Forest Hills Cemetery in Kansas City.

I then decided to try a more complicated method of creating a report but one that give me more control of what is included in the report: a custom Report. Clicking the New button on the Custom Report window opens a window that can be a little intimidating: the Custom Report Designer.

When designing a custom report, I need to know what information I want to print out. For this example, I would like their name, birth date, death date, burial place and burial place details. In the Designer, the Header row is where the titles will go. Row 1 is where my information will go. Thus, I need to click in the spot where col 1 and row 1 intersect.

Then I need to tell it to enter my first piece of information – the name. To do this, I pull down the ‘Select Field’ box and scroll down to the ‘name’ section of the list. I have several options to choose from. For this report, I’m going to use the ‘Surname, given name’ choice.

In column 2, I would like the birth date. Thus, I click in that column and pull down the select field and scroll to pick ‘Birth date’

Now it looks like I’m stuck since there aren’t any more columns. However, there is a menu at the top that contains the options to ‘Insert’ and to ‘Delete’. If I highlight the Birth date field and click on Insert, I have the option to insert a column (or row). Since I want more columns to the right, I select ‘Column Right’.

Then I repeat the processes to add

  • Death Date field in Col 3
  • Insert column right of Col 3
  • Burial place in Col 4
  • Insert column right of Col 4
  • Burial place details in Col 5

Now, I need to add Titles in the Header Row. I simply click in the column and type in the desired title.

When I click on the OK button, I’m asked to name my design.

That places this new report in my list of other custom reports. Now, I can select that report and change the people to include to my Burial place details group.

Since this report could be wide, I need to change the layout so that it will print ‘landscape’. To do this, I click on the Layout button and then change the orientation.

Now, I can generate my report.

The report provides the information I wanted — but it is missing a title. Thus, I need to go back to the design of this report by highlighting the name of the report and then clicking on the Edit button.

In looking at the Custom Report Designer screen, I don’t see a place to put in a title for the report. However, I see an Options button.

When I click on that button, there is a place to add a title. In addition, I can change the way the report is sorted from this screen. Thus, I type in a title and click OK.

I click OK again to save the edited report and return to the menu where I select my group and verify the layout is still landscape. Then I click Generate Report. Now I have a report with a title.

Now to figure out how to accomplish this task in RootsMagic 8.


My Source Struggle (part 1 and part 2) continues. A reader’s comment suggested that I try the Chrome extension, Record Seek. According to the reader, this extension helps create a source citation on the FamilySearch tree for web based sources.

Seeking to learn more about RecordSeek, I found a FamilySearch wiki page for the RecordSeek extension. Like most of the FamilySearch wikis, this page was very informative, including directions on how to download and use RecordSeek.

So I installed the extension and now have RecordSeek on my bookmarks bar.

I found a source that contains information regarding the marriage of Dolly Crawford to Joseph Ham on FamilySearch.

I scrolled thru this source looking for Joseph Ham and found the marriage information on page 83.

Since this source is an image and not a web page, I am unable to do step 2: “highlight information you’d like to include in the record notes.” Thus, I moved on to the next step which is to click the RecordSeek button on my bookmarks bar. This opened RecordSeek’s ‘Create a Source’ window.

Since this source is from FamilySearch, I clicked on FamilySearch and logged in when prompted. That opened an ‘Attach a Source’ window with many of the fields filled in. (Note that Family Search was entered as the source title.)

I then clicked on NEXT and that opened a window to ‘Search for an existing person.’

I then switched to the tab that had Dolly Crawford open so that I could copy the person ID. Once the ID was copied, the pop-up window for RecordSeek had disappeared behind the full screen browser. I was able to use Alt-Tab to locate that hidden window. I ended up typing in the ID since I wasn’t able to paste the ID in the box, Clicking NEXT opened an ‘Attach Source to Dolly Crawford’ window where I filled in why I was attaching this source.

When I clicked on Create & Attach, it added the source to Dolly Crawford [LLHZ-852] on FamilySearch.

Unfortunately, this process used ‘FamilySearch’ as the title of this source and not the actual title of the book it came from. The ‘Edit’ screen for this source displays what was filled in by RecordSeek.

Since this process is flawed, I decided to work with RootsMagic. I have a personally created template for FamilySearch county records. I modified that template for a digital book. Then, I added a new source for Dolly Crawford.

Then on FamilySearch, I edited the source created by RecordSeek so that it would have better information.

  • Added a standardized date
  • Replaced the ‘FamilySearch’ title with the actual title of the book (copy/pasted from RootsMagic
  • Copied the footnote from RootsMagic into the ‘Where the Record is Found (Citations)’ box
  • Copied the information I had transcribed into the ‘Detail Text’ source tab from RootsMagic into the ‘Describe the Record (Notes)’ box

Since I want the source information in TWO places, RootsMagic and FamilySearch, I likely won’t be using RecordSeek. Instead, I will use my templates in RootsMagic to create the source and transcribe the record. Then I will create a new source on FamilySearch and copy/paste the information into FamilySearch.

Sources Struggle Part 2

Have you ever wished for an ‘easy’ button when working on your genealogy? Well, I found a “button” that makes my struggle to add sources to someone on the FamilySearch tree easier.

One of my struggles is what appears to be a lack of order to the source listing.

While starting to add sources for my grandfather, I was curious about what the options button did. So I clicked on it.

That’s when I discovered the option to put the sources in chronological order.

Using this option, the sources are now in timeline order. However, sources that don’t have dates appear at the bottom of the list of sources.

If I click on the title of the source, the source expands and shows the various actions, including ‘edit’.

Clicking on the blue ‘Edit’, the source expands. I can see that the date field is empty.

When I enter the date (1942 for above source) and click save, the source is now appears in chronological order.

Now that I have the sources on FamilySearch in chronological order, I can scroll thru the ‘Edit Person’ screen on RootsMagic to locate facts in RootsMagic that don’t have a source on Family Search. (Note: I use two screens which makes this comparison much easier. I put RootsMagic on the left screen and FamilySearch on the right screen.)

With my grandfather, the newspaper articles and advertisements tell a story about his life not found in other records. Thus, the need to add them to FamilySearch. One of those sources is from a 1933 edition of the Emporia Gazette. Not only do I have the citation in RootsMagic, but I also have a transcription of the article.

On FamilySearch, I click on the blue ‘Add Source’ link. In this window, I add the date and create my title for the source. Then I copy the footnote from RootsMagic into the ‘Where the Record Is Found’ box. Since I have a trannscription in the details window of RootsMagic, I copy that and paste it into the ‘Describe the Record (Notes)’ box. Clicking save will add this source to the list of sources.

When I have an image for the source, I can click on ‘Add a Memory’ to get to the options to either upload a memory or to select one from the gallery.

Once the source is saved with the attached memory, an icon that looks like a photo will appear in the left column.

When I click on ‘view source’ a thumbnail of the attached image (memory) is shown.

Working with the two sets of information (RootsMagic and FamilySearch) side by side helps me see what sources are already attached and which events don’t have a source attached. The ability to copy/paste the footnote and the detail (transcription) from RootsMagic into the FamilySearch fields makes it easy to add the sources. Finding that option to sort the sources in chronological order was the key!

Sources Struggle

Do you struggle adding sources to the FamilySearch tree or is it just me? I’m not a member of their church and have only been using the FamilySearch website, including the tree, for about five years. Thus, I am still learning.

With the recently released Ancestor Discovery pages, I want to use those pages as one way to share my family history. Even though a casual viewer won’t be interested in the sources, other researchers will. So, I need to get past the struggle and figure out how I can get my sources onto FamilySearch.

Since I’m a RootsMagic user, I tried using the interface between RootsMagic and FamilySearch to upload these sources.

This is where my struggle begins. On this interface, I have a hard time figuring out whether one of my sources on the left is already on FamilySearch on the right. Once I manage to figure out a source that has yet to be added to FamilySearch, the window that opens up is the next challenge.

Since my sources could be attached to a variety of facts/events beyond the basics of birth, marriage and death, I don’t know what I’m expected to check. Then comes the ‘reason’ to attach, which I also struggle with. Once completed, the source now appears in the FamilySearch list on the RootsMagic interface.

In trying to figure out how I enter sources in RootsMatic impacts this interface, I noticed that the name of the source is how the source is listed in the RootsMagic list and how it is listed on FamilySearch once transferred. I also discovered that my ‘lumping’ tendancy hinders my ability to upload sources.

Instead of individual sources for each article in a newspaper, all of the articles from that newspaper are lumped together. Curious about how the way RootsMagic 8 uses citations, I wondered if RootsMagic 8 would lump the sources in the same way. When I looked at RootsMagic 8, the list of sources appeared to be the same.

Since one of my dad’s first cousins is active on the FamilySearch tree, I decided to see if I could learn anything from the sources she has added.

Studying sources she added as well as sources added by others, I noticed a pattern:

Name as listed in record followed by an abbreviated name of the record

The other thing I noticed was the date associated with each source. When I switched back to my grandfather’s sources page, I found that the date is not listed for some of the sources I transferred, while it is listed for other sources I transferred.

Thus, I don’t think the RootsMagic interface is the best way for me to transfer the sources in my file. So my other option is to use the ‘Add Sources’ page.

Using this screen to add a source allows me to add the transcription and add the media.

Using the add source screen would be easiest to use at the same time I’m creating the source in RootsMagic.

This is also how I will need to add all of my newspaper sources. Thus, I likely need to work with a report for the individual that includes the Endnotes to figure out which sources need added and reference back to the citation on RootsMagic so I can copy it to FamilySearch.

Using the ‘Add Sources’ screen will take longer to get my existing sources attached to my ancestors on the tree, but I understand that process. Thus, it will be less of a struggle.

Tasks and Logs

Research Logs – I think the genealogy camp can be divided into those who love them and those that don’t. Most ‘lovers’ of research logs will gladly show off their spreadsheet or other tool to record their research progress.

My first research log was a notebook where I wrote down some information about the source as I used it. During a trip to the Family Search Library in Salt Lake, I started using their paper forms as a research log. Each form was for a different surname and often for a different repository or even date of research. Even though I still have my original notebook, I do not have the individual forms. As I entered the source citations in my software, those forms were discarded.

During those early days of my research I at least tried to keep a research log. As I transitioned from paper family group sheets to software, I tried to use the capabilities of the software to log my research. In the process, the log switched to more of a ‘to do’ list. Below is a screenshot of such a ‘log’ in my The Master Genealogist file.

As I transitioned from The Master Genealogist to RootsMagic, I again attempted to use RootsMagic’s built-in To-Do list.

As I’ve been working with the RootsMagic 8 preview, I’m again wanting to see how successful I will be using the Tasks feature of RootsMagic 8. To learn how this feature works I’ve watched (and re-watched) the RootsMagic 8 Preview video about Tasks.

So, I decided to create the same Kirkpatrick task in RootsMagic 8. So, from the Task screen, I added a task.

Then, I migrated to Alfred Kirkpatrick’s ‘Edit Person’ screen, where I need to add the task.

Once I click on the ‘Add Task’ link, I can select the task from the master list of tasks.

Since RootsMagic 8 will allow me to attach the same task to both a person and a place, I migrated to Platte County, Missouri in my Place list to add the task to that place.

After also adding the task to Elizabeth Bland Burke, the other party in the sought after land transactions, I can go to the task and verify how often it has been used.

In figuring all of this out, I discovered some things about my usage of tasks:

  • I had tasks that I had completed still showing as needing completion in my RootsMagic 7 file.
  • I have tasks in a RootsMagic 8 file created from a RootsMagic 7 file named TMG that are not in my primary RM 7 file. I’m guessing that this tmg.rmgc file was created by importing my Master Genealogist data into RM 7 while my primary file was not created by a direct import. Thus, I will have to go thru all of these tasks to see what has been done vs what still needs to be done
  • I fail at using this feature of the software! For proof, just look at the first image. This task was created in 2001 in Master Genealogist. I quit using Master Genealogist in 2016. Thus, this task set unfinished for FIFTEEN years.

I have considered using this software feature to create a list of resources to use on a research trip. However, I’ve had more success using a simple spreadsheet.

As I’ve contemplated writing this blog post over the past couple of weeks, I realized that my genealogy goals are a form of a genealogy to-do list. These goals could easily become tasks in RootsMagic 8. However, I’m finding I keep referring back to my bullet journal and my list of 2021 goals. These might be in a simple hand-written list, but they are something I’m looking at on a regular basis versus being buried in a list of tasks I rarely look at.

I guess that puts me in the camp of researchers that don’t use traditional research logs. For an alternative to formal research logs, check out the video, Why You Don’t Need Research Logs in Genealogy.

So which camp are you in?

Shared Facts

RootsMagic Clean-Up Part 5

If you haven’t figured out by now, I’m in the middle of figuring out issues with my RoosMagic data that likely should be resolved before transitioning to RootsMagic 8. While also working on narrative reports for my 2nd great grandparents, I came across some ‘Shared Facts’ that are likely an issue that should be cleaned up.

As I’ve mentioned before, my RootsMagic data was imported from The Master Genealogist. And that is the source of my ‘shared facts.’

Although shared facts make it easy to enter data, there are issues associated with their use.

  • Gedcom doesn’t handle shared facts
  • Ancestry TreeShare does not connect the sources for a shared fact to an event
  • Shared facts do not print in chronological order on a narrative report

For more information about shared facts vs family facts vs individual facts see the discussion by Jerry Bryan on the RootsMagic forum discussion about Census (Family) and Residence (Family) fact type problems. (Scroll down to find Jerry Bryan’s comments.)

Since narrative reports are one of the ways I share my genealogy data, converting these shared facts to individual facts is now a priority. There is no ‘easy button’ for this process. It will have to be done one fact at a time. Copying the information from the family fact to an individual fact will be made easier by using a screen shot of the existing family fact for reference when creating the individual fact.

Once the fact is created and the sentence is customized, I can go back to the family fact to copy the source and paste it into the newly created individual source. Then the process needs repeated for the individual that shared the original fact.

Once the individual fact is created for all parties, then the original shared fact can be deleted.

This will be a slow but necessary process.

RM 8 Import Questions

After sharing my experiences with RootsMagic source templates and how I name sources, a reader asked about my experiences importing data into RootsMagic 8.

One question – have you tried importing info into RM8 yet to see if the source citations move over correctly – especially if you have used the free form template?

My initial response was going to be ‘no.’

  • No, because my citations are based on the templates and not free form.
  • No, because I tried importing a copy of my RootsMagic 7 file in the early days of the preview and it was linked via TreeShare to my Ancestry tree. My current Ancestry tree took about six months to get indexed by Ancestry. Since indexing not only impacts the web hints but also DNA ThruLines, I do not wish to go thru that process again. Thus, I don’t want to do anything that might jeopardize the link between my RootsMagic file and my Ancestry tree.

Prior to today, most of my experimentation in RM8 has been with files whose creation goes back to the exporting of portions of my RM 7 file via a gedcom file and then the importing of that file into RootsMagic to create a new, smaller database.

Thus, I decided to do some more experimenting to test the following:

  • Import of a RM7 file into RootsMagic 8 preview version
  • Impact of RM7 to RM8 import on free form citations
  • Impact of RM7 to RM8 import on source citations

Since I still don’t want to work with my primary file, I searched my RootsMagic folder for an ‘older’ file that I could use for the import. In that search, I found a McPheeters file which contains the descendants of Alexander Crawford and his wife, Mary McPheeters. I’m not sure why I have this file since this family is in my primary file. Since it is a ‘duplicate’ set of information, I’m comfortable experimenting with the file.

So, my first step was to create some ‘Free Form’ citations. Thinking that the easiest way to create these citations would be to find an individual that already had citations for census records. Thus, I elected to work with William Crawford, son of James Crawford and Nancy Sawyers and great-grandson of Alexander and Mary McPheeters.

Since I have this family line in my primary RootsMagic 7 file, I also have them in my Ancestry tree, Heartland Genealogy. Thus, I did a treeSearch to locate William Crawford in my online tree.

I had already located Ancestry sources for the 1850, 1860, 1880 census records along with the Find a Grave index and his Texas death certificate, I opened the record for each of these sources in a new tab.

Since I don’t use ‘Free Form’ citations, I’m not sure how others generate their citations. For this demonstration, I elected to take the ‘easy’ way and copy the source information directly from Ancestry. Thus, I scrolled down on each of these pages to locate the ‘Source Citation’ section.

Then in RootsMagic 7, I added a new source for each of these facts using the ‘Free Form’ template. Again, taking the ‘easy’ way, I just copied the information from Ancestry into the boxes in RootsMagic – AND I’M SURE I DID IT WRONG. I just needed ‘text’ in the boxes

Then I closed the file in RootsMagic 7 and switched to RootsMagic 8.

  • Go to File menu and select “Create a New RootsMagic File’
  • Select ‘Import from RootsMagic 1-7, GEDCOM, or another Program’
  • Select RootsMagic versions 1-7
  • At bottom of screen, click on the folder icon to ‘Browse for File’
  • Locate file on computer
  • At bottom of screen, click on the folder icon to ‘Browse for Destination’
  • Locate place on computer to store the file and give the file a name, then click save
  • Select desired ‘File Options’ and click OK
  • WAIT for file to import

Once the file was imported, I searched for the William Crawford that has the ‘FreeForm’ citations attached. I then clicked on ‘Edit Person’ to open his information. Scrolling down, I located the ‘1850 Residence’ fact since it is one of the facts that I attached a free form citation to and clicked on it. That opens the ‘Residence’ fact on the right side of the ‘Edit Person’ screen.

Then, I looked at the ‘Sources’ section on the right side of the screen to location the ‘freeform’ citation and clicked on the > to the right of that citation. This opens the “Edit Citation” section on the right side of the window.

To see whether the import from RootsMagic 7 to RootsMagic 8 affected the ‘Free Form’ citation, I need to look toward the bottom of the Edit Citation screen. This is where the Footnote and Bibliography are shown for the citation. To make it easier to see the footnote and bibliography, I clicked on the Customize button.

Going back to the same file in RootsMagic 7, I opened the source to view the footnote and bibliography in RM7. I’m not a good ‘proofreader,’ especially when it comes to the punctuation of a footnote, but the information in RM7 (shown below) appears to be the same as that shown above in RM8.

Since I have worked with several RootsMagic 8 files to figure out how my sources and citations are converted, I can say that I have not observed any issues with my source templates, sources and citations in the RootsMagic 8 versions of those files.

From my experience, I would conclude

  • one of my RootsMagic 7 files imported without issue into RootsMagic 8
  • based on my limited experience, Free Form citations were imported into RootsMagic 8 correctly
  • my source templates, sources and citations are converting to RootsMagic 8 without issue.

RootsMagic Clean-Up Part 4

My quest to clean up my RootsMagic 7 database may get sidetracked. The next step is to ‘count trees’ and then to merge them.

This task assumes that the goal is to have ONE tree. Instead of viewing my software as ‘family tree’ software, I view it as a database.

Database – a structured set of data held in a computer, especially one that is accessible in various ways.

Thus, I use my software to keep track of all of my research, as if the software were a specialized form of database software. Knowing that I use my software in this manner, I expected to have a fair number of ‘trees’ but I didn’t expect this many.

When I go to one of these ‘individual’ trees, I understand why I have these individuals by themselves. When I encounter data that may or may not be for someone in my tree, I have created a duplicate person and entered this new data for this duplicate person. Then I create a shared ‘Identity’ fact to link this new person to the person I think they match in my tree. Below is an example of such a person — Hampton Crandall – 8292.

These ‘identity’ facts were created in The Master Genealogist. It is one of my customizations from TMG which the sentence structure did not transfer well into RootsMagic.

At the top of my “count trees’ list, I find several larger trees. These are trees that I have researched because of possible ties to my own tree.

At this point, I don’t have enough information to connect them to my primary tree. Thus, they will remain as their own trees. And I won’t be ‘cleaning up’ these trees by merging them into my primary tree.

Naming Sources

I’ve been asked to explain how I name my sources in RootsMagic. I’m sharing my method as an example. I’ve never actually written out my ‘naming’ practices.

However, I have heard the genealogist, Cousin Russ, talk about how he maintains a file of instructions that contains his naming practices. His blog post FTM2012 and AMT – File Naming and Captions discusses some of his naming practices.

Most of my file naming conventions go back to having been the technology coordinator in the local high school for quite a few years. When schools first introduced computers and their accompanying networks, students shared computers. Thus, a major challenge was helping students learn where their files were stored and how to organize them. Another challenge was helping everyone learn to give their file a name versus letting the computer name it.

These experiences along with my personal experience with file names have impacted how I name things in RootsMagic. Basically, my naming conventions take into account the following factors:

  • sorting — how does the computer’s alphabetical sorting impact the sorting based on the naming convention I’ve chosen
  • grouping — how can I use names to group likes things together in a list

RootsMagic 8 introduces a very powerful search function that will help compensate for not using a naming convention. For me, the power of this search feature will be in its ability to sort thru lots of items to quickly locate the one I want.

My willingness to follow a naming pattern has helped me to quickly scroll thru a list of items to find exactly what I’m looking for.

To start with, the source templates that I’ve created are at the top of the list of source templates. When I first converted my Master Genealogist data to RootsMagic, it created source templates whose names started with _TMG_. These source templates appear ABOVE the built in source templates.

Thus, I knew that placing the underscore at the start of the name would place the name towards the top of the list. When I converted to RootsMagic, I also started using Elizabeth Shown Mills’ book, Evidence Explained, as a guide for building my sources. Since I was creating my templates based on Evidence Explained, I elected to begin the names for these source templates with _EE_. The next part of the name refers to the type of record. This portion of the name is usually the same as the name for the template I copied from.

When it comes to source templates, I learned one thing the HARD way. When one drags a person from one RootsMagic file to another, the source templates used for that person are also ‘drug’ from the first file to the next. Thus, one can end up with lots of duplicate source templates and no ‘easy’ button to merge them. This happened to me and I had quite a few census and newspaper source templates in my list.

There is a set of SQL instructions that will merge these ‘duplicate’ source templates. I finally got up the courage to run these instructions and it quickly merged most of my duplicates. However, I was left with a few duplicates and could not figure out the difference between two source templates. Thus, I renamed one as ‘BAD’ so that I would not use it for future sources. At some point, I will revisit this to see if I can spot the difference and get them merged.

When it comes to my sources, I begin the name with the type of source followed by a dash. For many sources, I will follow that dash with the abbreviation for the state where the record is found. Then I follow the state’s abbreviation with information about the source that sets it apart from similar sources. If the record comes from an online site, I often end the name with the name of the site followed by the letters EE. Those letters, EE, at the end of the source name tell me at a glance that this source is based on Evidence Explained and not a source created years ago before I started following these standards.


  • Birth-AZ 1880-1935 Ancestry EE
  • Birth-IA Index 1800-1999 Ancestry EE
  • Book-MO History Davies Gentry Counties Archives.org EE
  • Cem-IA Graveston Index Ancestry EE
  • Death MA 1841-1915 Ancestry EE
  • Death MA 1841-1915 FamilySearch EE
  • Deed-IN Warren 1827-1901 FamilySearch EE
  • Directory-CA Long Beach 1933 Ancestry EE
  • Draft-WWII Young Men 1940-1947 Ancestry EE
  • History-IA Northwest pioneers (note the lack of EE — this source was likely created in Master Genealogist)
  • Marriage-AZ 1865-1972 Ancestry EE
  • Military- WWII Navy Muster Rolls 1938-1949 Ancestry EE
  • News-KS Dodge City Daily GLobe D418 KSHS EE (D418 is the microfilm number at the Kansas State HIstorical Society)
  • News-KS Dodge City Globe (Dodge City, KS) Newspapers.com EE (I added the location to my naming process within the last few years.)
  • News-KS Hays Daily News Genealogy Bank EE
  • News-Dayton Herald (Dayton, OH) Newspaepers.com EE
  • Probate-KS Ford County EE
  • Probate-KS Wills and Probate Records 1803-1987 Ancestry EE
  • Tax-KY Fleming 1798-1875 FamilySearch EE
  • Vital-VT Records 1720-1908 Ancestry.com EE
  • Will-KY Fleming County Book H FamilySearch EE

When it comes to census records, I lump by county. Thus, my naming convention for census records follows the dash with the year of the census. The year is followed by the state abbreviation and then the county name. The source of the census record and EE complete more recent citations. Earlier citations were likely created when viewing microfilm of the census. Thus, they don’t have the source or EE. Examples would include:

  • Census-1860 IA Buchanan County Ancestry EE
  • Census-1857 KS Atchison
  • Census-1860 IL Douglas Bk
  • Census-1860 IL Knox County Ancestry EE
  • Census-1885 IA Wapello County Ancestry EE
  • Census=KS Counties 1953-1979 Ancestry EE

Prior to my transition to RootsMagic, I didn’t have images attached to events. After the transition, I started downloading images and attaching those images to sources. When I started naming these images, I followed a pattern based on the following:


The first set of YYYY referred to the year of birth. The second set of YYYY referred to the year of the event. My thinking was that this would put all images for a person together and that these images would then sort in chronological order.

I soon discovered that this naming pattern did not work for me. Instead I started using folders and subfolders to help organize my images. I have a folder for each of my surname lines. As I discover a new line, I add a new folder. This folder uses the surname for its name.

Within these surname folders, I have folders for the various people with that surname. Each folder name starts with the person’s birth year followed by their surname and then their given name. By starting the folder name with the birth year, the folders will sort in chronological order.

My Crawford folder is an example of how this works — especially where I’m researching several different Crawford lines

  • 1748-Crawford-William
  • 1750-Crawford-Mary
  • 1757-Crawford-James-Rebecca-Anderson
  • 1772-Crawford-James-Sally-Duggins
  • 1808-Crawford-Nelson-G
  • 1834-Crawford-James-H
  • 1838-Crawford-Washington-Marion
  • 1894-Crawford-Leon-Russell

My current practice is to base the file name on the following pattern

YYYY-Type of Record-State Abbreviation-County-Surname-GivenName

  • 1800-Tax-KY-Pulaski-Crawford-Alexander
  • 1818-Tax-OH-Preble-Crawford-James
  • 1822-Deed-OH-Preble-Bk5-p98-Sellers-to-Crawford

Naming these files is where I sometimes get lax in following the pattern. The one portion of the pattern that I have adhered to since adopting this system is to begin the file name with the year of the event. This places the files in the folder in chronological order when sorted by file name.

When adding the image to a source or fact in RootsMagic, I’ve adopted a similar naming pattern for the caption — it starts with the year of the event followed by the type of document.

As I’ve worked thru writing this blog, I’ve discovered quite a few places where I should go back and rename sources, folders and even files.

From my viewpoint, the issue isn’t whether you have adopted a naming pattern for source templates, sources, images or captions. Instead, the issue is whether you can locate the desired template, source, or image when needed. No matter what you decide, it has to fit your way of doing things.