Do you ever want to ‘tell’ an ancestor’s story versus just a list of dates and facts? For me, that is my preferred method of sharing information about an ancestor.
Although my genealogy software, RootsMagic, provides a quick and easy way to generate those reports, there is some pre-work that goes into their creation. In order to have paragraphs, one needs sentences.
I first learned to build these sentences when using The Master Genealogist. The community of users for that software was fantastic about figuring out creative ways to build a complicated sentence. Even though, the ‘memo’ feature found in TMG did not transfer to RootsMagic, I am learning how to manipulate the sentences in RootsMagic.
Armed with that basic knowledge of how the sentence structure works, I have learned to modify the order of the text to add variety to a narrative report.
One of the ‘hacks’ I use on a regular basis is to rearrange the order of the elements in the sentence so that there is some variety. An easy way to do this is to move the date to the front of the sentence. When I have a group of facts that all place the date to the end of the sentence, I can customize the sentence for one or more of those facts.
For example, my grandfather has 7 facts between 1938 and 1941 that will all have a similar sentence structure with the date toward the end of the sentence.
Clicking on each fact will reveal the sentence.
Clicking on the ‘Customize Sentence’ to the right side of the window about the sentence, will open the window where I can change the order of the parts of the sentence.
To move the date to the start of the sentence, I simply highlight the < [Date]> portion of the sentence, being sure to get the greater than and lesser than signs that surround the Date. I then cut the Date and move my cursor to the start of the sentence where I paste it.
Now, I have to do a little bit of editing. Firstly, the space between the < and the [ before the word Date needs deleted. Otherwise the sentence will have a leading space.
I also tend to add a comma (and a space) after the date. I place the comma and space to the left of the > so that they will only print if there is date information.
The bottom half of the ‘Customize Sentence’ window will show the sentence as it will appear. If you don’t like your change hit the CANCEL button instead of the OK button.
Creating these narrative reports allow me (or I should say, require me) to go back thru the data I have on the individual and check it for accuracy. I then also check the sources attached to each fact to make sure that my source citation would allow someone else to locate the source.
When entering details about an acestor’s life, do you use a ‘member’ fact? I do – sometimes. But if I were grading myself on the use of this fact, I would probably give myself a ‘D’. Since I do use the fact, I don’t deserve an ‘F’. However, my usage is very inconsistent.
For example, my grandmother, Winnie Currey Crawford was a member of the Old-Timers club in Dodge City. Growing up, I remember her talking about either hosting or attending Old-Timers meetings. I’ve even written a blog post about the Old-Timers club. Grandma was also a member of the East Side Bible class. However, my grandmother does not have a ‘member’ fact for either of these organizations.
I admit that I’m a bit lazy with the use of this fact. I think another issue I have with this fact is the process of assigning a date. I don’t know when my grandmother joined these organizations. Thus, I don’t have a ‘beginning’ date. Her participation was also over a span of years.
In preparing for this post, I also discovered that, at times, I don’t provide enough information when entering the fact. If the description field is left blank, then the sentence created for the fact is meaningless.
This also impacts a ‘Fact List’ report. Without the details that should be in the description, the report just gives the place. The ‘fact list’ report is under the ‘Lists’ section of reports in RootsMagic 7.
Creating a fact list report for the member fact is relatively simple. I just selected the member fact and then generated the report.
This produced an 8 page report. Below is a sample of that report showing both facts with sufficient information along with facts that do not have enough information.
Since I am previewing RootsMagic 8, I decided to see how this works in RM8. Instead of going to the ‘Reports’ menu at the top of RM7, I need to use the ‘Publish’ menu down the left side of RM8.
Based on my limited experience in RM8, I believe the Publish screen shows 4 of the reports I’ve recently used. Since the Fact List report does not show, I need to click on ‘All Reports and Charts’.
That opens a screen showing all of the available reports. From here, I selected Fact List.
Instead of opening a separate window for the report options, they appear on the left side of the screen. Again, I need to select the fact type, ‘member’. Clicking on the > to the right of the ‘birth’ fact type opens a window where I can scroll down to locate the Member fact.
Clicking OK on the window changes the ‘fact type’ in the settings for the report to Member. I then removed the check mark from Print Private Facts and from Print Preparer Info.
Once the settings are configured to my wishes, I click the Generate report button at the bottom of the column. This report appears in the large space to the right of the report settings.
When I look at the same area of the report as in RM7 (Washington Marion Crawford, etc.), the major difference is that every other member fact is highlighted blue.
Magic didn’t happen in RM8. I’m still missing the description information for William Clay Craford’s member facts. I’m not sure whether the highlighting affected the spacing or whether a different font and font size was used, but the report is 13 pages long in RM8 compared to the 8 pages in RM7.
This experiment with the Member Fact list report
Revealed my laziness in entering this type of fact
Revealed member facts that are missing descriptive details
Helped me realize that the process of creating reports in RootsMagic 8 is similar to that in RM7. It just looks different.
Have you ever thought about why someone blogs? I know I don’t think about that question when I’m reading other blogs.
I was asked about my blog recently and I think my answer surprised the person asking. Of course, I want to reach other family members thru my blog. That’s why I have posts dedicated to sharing pictures or transcribing records.
However, some of my posts are more for me than for others. Even though my narrative report posts might help other researchers, I post them because they make me work thru the facts and sources I have for an individual.
I’m currently working my way thru my 2nd great grandparents, whom I’ve had in my files for quite some time. Thus, some of my citations are older and deficient, leading to lots of work to bring those citations up to today’s standards.
My current project is Thurston Kennedy Wells (1821-1893).
Fixing the sentences is a relative easy task. The sources, however, are a different story. As would be the case with a wide variety of source types, some of my sources are used for multiple facts. In RootsMagic 7, that means finding all of the different places a source is used and either correcting each one individually or using the memorize/paste feature to copy the corrected source from one fact to another.
That tedious work is why I’m sitting here wishing for the features of RootsMagic 8. It is my understanding that in RM 8, I can change the information for a citation and that change will be made for every use of that citation. To verify that I am correct in my understanding of this new feature, I decided to try it out with Thurston Kennedy Wells in my RM8 database. (NOTE: First, my understanding about the ability to merge citations was wrong. Second, I am using a copy of my database and NOT my primary version since RM8 is still in preview.)
One of the sources that appears a couple of times is a reference to a civil war draft record. Not only do I have multiple citations, but I have two sources that refer to this one source.
After carefully studying these two sources, I believe they are the same source and thus wish to merge them. To do this in the current version (7.9.300.0 dated 11 Jun 2021) of RM8, I highlight the source that I want to keep and then click on the three vertical dots in the upper right corner of the sources window.
From that menu, I selected ‘Merge Sources’. The Select Source window opened and I located the duplicate source using the search function.
Making sure that I have the duplicate source highlighted, I click on the OK button at the bottom of the box. This opens a window comparing the primary and duplicate sources. In my case, they are not exactly the same. Thus, I need to proceed with caution, making sure (a) I want to merge them and (b) that the source I want to keep is in the pane on the left.
Once I have verified that everything is as I want it, I can click ‘Merge Dupblicates”. Now, I have one source with 25 citations. Some of these citations are not very informative and will require some extra work to correct. Since these citations are not for Thurston K. Wells, I am going to ignore them for now. At the bottom of the list are two citations for Thurston K. Wells. One is attached as a source for his name and the other is attached as a source for his draft fact.
Since these two citations should be the same, I am going to use the ability to edit the citation from the Sources screen so that the two instances for Thurston K. Wells match.
After looking at the two citations, I have concluded that I want to keep the bottom citation. Thus, I take a screen shot of the Citations Details for that citation.
With that image visible on my screen, I can fill in the Citation Details for the other Citations. Now, when I go back to Thurston Wells and look at the two uses of this source, they have been updated to newer standards and they are the same.
Ideally, I would like to be able to ‘merge’ these citations. However, being able to see the citations and edit them based on the source is easier than trying to find them attached to various facts.
In RootsMagic 8, there is the ability to ‘Merge Duplicate Citations’.
It is my understanding that this function will ONLY work if the citations match exactly — spacing, punctuation, etc. It also goes thru all citations and merges any/all duplicates found. I believe this is a task I will need to do when I first transfer my data over to RM8.
Out of curiosity, I ran this ‘Merge All Duplicate Citations’ function on my test database and it merged over 40,000 citations. (Be patient, this can take a while.)
Going back to my civil war draft source, I was curious as to which citations were merged.
My two citations for Thurston K. Wells were NOT merged since one has a period after the K and the other one does not. However, the 5 incorrect citations at the top were merged — even though they likely should not have been.
So what have I learned thru this experiment in RM8
I don’t want to use the Merge All Duplicate Citations feature unless I’m willing to admit that some citations will get merged that I don’t want merged.
It is easier to clean up citations in RM8 from the Sources screen than having to locate each use of a source for an individual in RM7.
I still have work to do getting the sources cleaned up for my report on Thurston Kennedy Wells.
As you are researching your ancestors do you ever find a family living in the same county as ancestors or cousins from a totally different branch of your tree? That’s been my experience recently.
Yesterday, while following up on a comment on a blog post about a reader’s potential connection to my Garrard County, Kentucky research, I stumbled upon such a situation. I discovered a reference to Osbourn Bland as one of the survivors taken prisoner at Blue Licks in the Winter 2006 issue of Kentucky ancestors.
This would place an Osburn Bland in Madison County, Kentucky a little before my Crawford line. Now this may not be my Osburn Bland, but it might be. I have tax lists showing an Osborne Bland living in Nelson county prior to 1800. Much more research will need to be done to figure out if this is the same person – or NOT.
Again, my Bland line is on my dad’s mother’s side of the tree while my Garrard/Madison County, Kentucky research is on my dad’s dad’s side of the tree, my Crawford line.
Because of this instance where one branch of my tree seems to cross paths with another branch, I decided to investigate the ‘Who Was There’ report in my genealogy software. I’ve used this report to identify people in Kansas in 1950. However, I’ve never run the report for a specific county or for a range of time or both. Thus, I decided to try this report for Kentucky prior to 1800.
Because I have a relatively large database with lots of facts, this report takes a long time to create. To help speed up the process, I created a marked group using the option to ‘select people by data fields’
Then I configured the ‘Search for Information’ to find ‘Any Fact’ with the ‘place’ containing ‘Kentucky’.
After saving the group, I can now go back to the ‘Who Was There List’ Report and use that marked group instead of ‘Everyone’ for the people to include.
The report still takes a bit of time to generate results, but it produced a 24 page report of the individuals with a fact placing them in Kentucky between 1750-1799. To narrow that down to the area of Garrard, Madison and Lincoln Counties, I created a new marked group. (Note: This uses OR between each of the statements.)
Using this new ‘AnyFact Garrard Madison Lincoln’ group, I re-created the ‘Who Was There’ Report.
This produced an 8 page report.
I thought I was finished. That was until I scanned this report and discovered it didn’t pick up Osborn Bland. After much hair pulling, consultation with others and more hair pulling, I discovered that Osborn Bland wasn’t included on the ‘Who Was There’ report because I didn’t have a birth fact and a death fact for Osborn Bland.
This discovery led me to the ‘Missing Information List’ report. To start with I selected the ‘death’ fact and set the criteria to either be missing or with a blank date. I then changed the people to include to my marked group for Garrard, Madison and Lincoln counties.
I discovered three pages of people in the marked group for Garrard, Madison and Lincoln counties that don’t have a death fact. Thus none of these people will show up on a ‘Who Was There Report’ for Garrard, Madison and Lincoln Counties.
As you are researching your ancestors do you ever find a family living in the same county as ancestors or cousins from a totally different branch of your tree? That’s been my experience recently.
I’ve been researching three generations of descendants of James Barr Ralston recently. As I’ve been working my way thru his children and their families, I have encountered quite a few of them with ties to Black Hawk County, Iowa. Black Hawk County, Iowa is where my ancestor, Julia Harding was married to Albert Hutchinson. My Ralston line is on my dad’s dad’s side of my tree. My Hutchinson/Harding branch is on my dad’s mom’s side of the tree. These two lines do not connect in my tree until my grandparents marry in Dodge City, Kansas.
Curious as to who all was in Black Hawk county at some time, I decided to create a ‘Who Was There’ report. Since this report takes a while to generate, I created a ‘Marked Group’ for anyone with a fact place containing Black Hawk, Iowa.
With the marked group created, I can now generate a ‘Who Was There’ report limited to the people in this marked group.
Not only does this create a nice report of everyone with a fact placing them in Black Hawk County Iowa between 1850 and 1940, but it keeps the color coding. The color coding is a visual clue to the fact that different branches of my tree were in Black Hawk County.
This report confirms what I was seeing while researching the descendants of James Barr Ralston. The color coding makes it easy to spot the various family lines.
NOTE: The above report may not contain everyone who should be on it. I recently discovered that if I don’t have a birth and death date for an individual, then they will not be included on this report.
Calling all Genea-Musings Fans: It’s Saturday Night again – Time for some more Genealogy Fun!!
Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along – cue the Mission Impossible music!): 1) What day was your Mother born? Where was she born? What day of the week was it? Tell us how you found out. 2) What has happened in recorded history on your Mother’s birth date (day and month)? Tell us how you found out, and list five events.
3) What famous people have been born on your Mother’s birth date? Tell us how you found out, and list five of them.
Instead of doing this for my mother, I’m going to use my grandmother, Winnie Letha Currey.
Born 30 Jun 1903
Born in Lansing, Leavenworth County, Kansas
Born on a Tuesday
What happened on 30 June 1903? A Google search of the date led to a Wikipedia page for June 1903. On that page, major events for each of the days of the month are listed. According to this site, the following happened on 30 June 1903.
For the second question, I googled “What Happened on 30 June”. The top site on the list of results led to the ‘On This Day‘ website. Below are some of the events that occurred during her lifetime on her birthday.
1921 – U.S. President Warren G. Harding appointed former President William Howard Taft chief justice of the United States.
1936 – Margaret Mitchell’s book, “Gone with the Wind,” was published.
1950 – U.S. President Harry Truman ordered U.S. troops into Korea and authorizes the draft.
1951 – On orders from Washington, General Matthew Ridgeway broadcasts that the United Nations was willing to discuss an armistice with North Korea.
1952 – CBS-TV debuted “The Guiding Light.”
1953 – The first Corvette rolled off the Chevrolet assembly line in Flint, MI. It sold for $3,250.
1955 – The U.S. began funding West Germany’s rearmament.
1957 – The American occupation headquarters in Japan was dissolved.
1958 – The U.S. Congress passed a law authorizing the admission of Alaska as the 49th state in the Union.
1962 – Los Angeles Dodger Sandy Koufax pitched his first no-hitter in a game with the New York Mets.
1970 – The Cincinnati Reds moved to their new home at Riverfront Stadium.
1971 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government could not prevent the Washington Post or the New York Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers.
1971 – The 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified when Ohio became the 38th state to approve it. The amendment lowered the minimum voting age to 18.
1974 – The July 4th scene from the Steven Spielberg movie “Jaws” was filmed.
1977 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter announced his opposition to the B-1 bomber.
1984 – The longest professional football game took place in the United States Football League (USFL). The Los Angeles Express beat the Michigan Panthers 27-21 after 93 minutes and 33 seconds.
1985 – Yul Brynner left his role as the King of Siam after 4,600 performances in “The King and I.”
1986 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that states could outlaw homosexual acts between consenting adults.
When it comes to the third question, it is easy to google ‘who was born’ on a date. However, it is more difficult to find people that my grandmother might have known. Of the several lists I found, Michael Tyson’s name was the only one that my grandmother might have recognized.
Tackling this ‘question’ from a different perspective, there is a RootsMagic report called, ‘On This Day List’. Setting the options on that report to “Famous Births” and “Famous Deaths” produces a list of famous people born on June 30th.
Another report in RootsMagic that provides a different perspective for this question is the ‘Birthday and Anniversary List’ Report. By removing the checks by ‘Marriage Anniversaries’ in the report setup, a report of birthdays can be printed.
Since I included everyone, this report is quite lengthy. There are quite a few people in my database who share a birthday with my grandmother.
I’m thankful I investigated the RootsMagic reports. I find it more interesting to see who I have in my file who shares a birthday with my grandmother than which famous people might share her birthday.
Do you ever try to perform a task in a piece of software and just can’t get it to work like you think it should? That’s my situation.
I’m trying to create a ‘Who Was There’ report in RootsMagic for everyone who was living in Garrard, Madison or Lincoln counties, Kentucky prior to 1800. I thought I had this all figured out but no matter how I modify the settings, there is one individual who should be on the report who is NOT: Osborn Bland
To try and figure out what I was doing wrong, I checked to make sure Osborn Bland had a fact placing him in one of those counties. I verified that he had a residence fact for 1782 with a place of Madison, Kentucky, United States. I also verified that the fact was not marked ‘Private’.
Knowing that Osborn Bland had facts placing him in Nelson County, Kentucky, I tried a different approach to see of I could get him on a ‘Who Was There’ report. I created a marked group for people who have any fact place containing ‘Nelson, Kentucky’
Osborn Bland appears in this group. Thus, I know that the program is picking up the place ‘Nelson, Kentucky’. So, I tried a ‘Who Was There’ report for Nelson, Kentucky using my ‘AnyFact Place Nelson Kentucky’ marked group.
Again, Osborn Bland should be on the report but is found missing – AGAIN. (Note, his son, Osborn Bland Jr is on the report and in the Marked Group.)
Thinking that there is an issue with Osborn Bland, I created another person and named him Osborn Test Bland. I created facts for this test subject. These facts place him in Madison, Nelson and Monroe counties, Kentucky. I edited the Marked Group for Nelson County to make sure he would be found for the group. His inclusion in the marked group can be seen in the following image and in the above images for attempting the WhoWasThere report.
Strangely, this newly created individual is also missing from the Who Was There report as evidenced in the images above.
So, I tried a ‘Who Was There’ report for Nelson, Kentucky and set the date to 1785.
Again, no Osborn Bland nor an Osborn Test Bland. As I was creating the above report, I wondered if the age range of 0 to 100 was affecting my results. Thus, I modified Osborn Test Bland to add an approximate birth date of 1750 and an approximate death date of 1830. This time, Osborn Test Bland appeared on my report.
I couldn’t figure out how to create this report without the age range criteria. Thus, it will not pull up individuals who do not have a birth and a death date. By adding the approximate birth and death dates, then the individual is pulled for the report. This explains why I could get them on a marked group list but not on the report.
I posted this issue to the Facebook RootsMagic group and want to thank everyone who commented on my post with suggestions on how to get this report to pull Osborn Bland.
Do you consider yourself an ‘expert’ at using a piece of computer software? I don’t know that I would label myself an ‘expert’ but instead would label myself an ‘advanced’ user. I consider myself an ‘advanced’ user because there’s always some aspect of the software that I haven’t used.
That was pointed out to me in the April 12th edition of Mondays with Myrt. They were talking about how one could mark parents as ‘proven’, ‘disproven’ or ‘disputed’. One can write notes and attach sources to this fact. I had no idea one could do this.
When I used the software ‘The Master Genealogist,’ I had a fact called ‘ChildParent’. I enter this fact for the child and attach sources that support the identity of the parents. I then share the fact with the parents. I have the fact configured so that it will print a statement about the child’s birth on the narrative report for the president.
Even though this type of fact has been discussed on the RootsMagic forums, I had never heard of the ability to indicate that the parent-child relationship was proven.
This feature is available when one is on the ‘Edit Person’ screen and clicks on the parents.
The sources attached to the ChildParent fact can be copied/pasted to the ‘Parents’ sources. Once at least one source is attached, I can change the ‘Proof’ pull down to Proven.
Now that I know about this feature, I am going to use it on my Ricketts line. I had previously disconnected the parents of John Ricketts (1765-1848) because I had some conflicting information. I just reconnected the original parents and marked them as ‘Disputed’.
I’m thankful to always be learning. I’m also thankful for the myriad of ways I can continue to learn about family history research.
Because my family tree software includes more lines than just my family and a lot of descendants of not only my tree but also for some of those other lines, I don’t put much stock in statistics. However, the recent post, My Family Tree in Numbers, challenged me to re-look at those stats.
Since I use Ancestry as my primary location to share my tree, I also have stats for that tree.
Even though I don’t do my research in My Heritage, I did upload a gedcom to create a tree on that site. Thus, I can take advantage of their new ‘Family Statistics’ tools. This tool is found under the HOME menu on My Heritage.
It takes a few minutes for My Heritage to generate the statistics for the tree, but once generated the tree is analyzed in a variety of ways.
The ‘Places’ page verifies what I knew about my tree: the vast majority of my ancestors were born, died and resided in the United States.
Since my tree on My Heritage doesn’t contain many living people, this aspect of the statistics, including the Age Distribution, doesn’t provide much information. However, the ‘Life Expectancy’ section is insteresting.
The ‘Births’ section provides information on the month of birth as well as an analysis of when ancestors were born.
Next is an analysis of the marriage data.
One thing I noticed is that this points out areas where my tree may be incorrect. For example, the likelihood that someone in my tree married at age 10 seems doubtful.
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.