Source Templates

Do you remember writing that research paper when you had to create footnotes and a bibliography? Did all those commas and periods cause you headaches? Or are you young enough that you just used sites like Easy Bib to do it for you?

When it comes to creating those footnotes and that bibliography for our genealogy records, I think we are all looking for that ‘easy’ button. For some, that button might be using the ability to create ‘free form’ citations to copy/paste citation information from Ancestry. For example, the Ancestry source, Indiana, U.S. Select Marriages Index, 1748-1993, has source information that could be copied into genealogy software.

I have not adopted this method of citing the sources of the information in my file for several reasons:

  • sometimes, I want more information than copying/pasting provides
  • sometimes, the source does not provide the copy/paste option
  • I don’t want to have to create the footnote from scratch.

However, I do want an ‘easy’ way to do this. Thus, I use what might be called

Cheat Sheets

In RootsMagic, what I call ‘cheat sheets’ are source templates. These built-in source templates cover a wide variety of potential sources.

Each of these templates has their own set of fields that are put together to form the footnote and the bibliography. Thus, I don’t have to remember the order for the fields in a footnote or the punctuation.

There are plenty of these source templates. Many of them are based on various standards for sourcing genealogical information. The 2013 “Sources” lesson by the Central Alberta RootsMagic Users explains the various references these templates are based on.

These built-in ‘cheat sheets’ work well unless or until one wants to modify a template. When that happens, one learns that these templates cannot be edited. Nor is it currently possible to switch an existing source to a different template.

Once I discovered this inability to modify a template, I started creating my own templates – by copying an original template, naming my copy and making desired modifications. For example, I copied the ‘Census, U.S. Federal (Online Images) template.

When I save the copy of the template, I use a naming standard for the templates. The templates that I’ve ‘created’ all have names that start with ‘_EE_’ That places these templates at the top of my list of templates. Thus, my copy of the census template is named _EE_Census, U.S. Federal (Online images).

Since I can edit these copies, I’ve added information about the image number and total number of images to the template. When working with these templates in RootsMagic 7, there are two sections: Master Source and Source Details.

Thus the template provides prompts for the types of information I need to add for the source. If I have already created the source, the top portion of the window (yellow in my case) will already be completed, I just have to fill in the bottom portion (green).

When I am working with a source that isn’t already in my RootsMagic 7 database, I click on the ‘Add New Source’ button. This opens a window to ‘Select Source Type’ which is a list of available source templates.

The type of source I’m working with will determine which template I select. Sticking with an online census records as the source, I would locate my template for online census records. This would open an ‘Edit Source’ window.

This window prompts me for the various fields needed to create the footnote and bibliography entry. In the light gray are hints for what might be entered in that box. In the example shown, both the Master Source and the Source Details portion of the screen is shown. Occasionally, when creating a new source, this window will only show the yellow, “Master Source,” portion of the screen until after the source is created. At that point, selecting the source will open the window to enter the ‘Source Details’ information.

So, how does this work in RootsMagic 8?

After working with the RootsMagic 8 preview, I believe it works in a similar manner — with one exception. The term, CITATION, is being used instead of the ‘Source Details’ terminology.

If I look at the record for Elisha Vance Briggs, I can see that there is a pen icon to the right of his 1880 residence fact. Clicking on that fact places the information for that fact on the right side of the window. Under sources, it shows a citation for ‘Census-1880 IN Warren Coun…’.

Clicking on the green > to the right of the citation name will open the ‘Edit Citation’ window.

This window is prompting for the same set of information what was entered as ‘Source Details’ in RootsMagic 7. The major difference that I see is that I cannot modify the ‘Master Source’ from this screen in RootsMagic 8 while I was able to make a modification in RootsMagic 7. I am sure this is by design since it will prevent me from ‘messing up’ a source. Since I know that I have used this ability to edit the ‘Master Source’ while entering the ‘Details,’ I will have to train myself to study to footnote at the bottom of the screen. If the footnote has back to back commas, or appears to be missing information, that will be a clue that I need to go edit the Master Source.

To edit the Master Source, I will need to switch to the ‘Sources screen’.

On this screen, I need to find the desired source. In the example, the source name is Census-1880 IN Warren County. To locate that particular source, I can scroll down or I can use the search box. One search option would be to start typing in the name of the source.

Another way to search would be to enter the name of the county in the search box. This is quicker to type in – but yields a longer list of results.

Either way, I need to locate the desired source in the list and click on it. That will show the information for the source in the ‘Edit Source’ portion of the screen on the right.

Any change I make here will affect every use of this source. In this example, that would be 21 citations.

Thus, it is essential to understand which fields are ‘universal’ for the source and which fields are ‘specific’ for the citations. To understand the difference, one has to go back to the source template.

A study of the list of fields for the source indicates that some have a ‘Y’ in the citation column while other fields are missing the ‘Y’. Any field with a ‘Y’ is NOT part of the master source. Instead it forms the ‘Details’ or ‘Citation’ portion of the source. Since I work with my own templates, I can click on the EDIT button.

Clicking on a field and then clicking on the Edit Field button opens the ‘Source Template Field’ window.

This window appears to be the same in RM8 as in RM7. In the above image, the field is for the page number of a census record. I have a check mark for ‘This field is a source detail field’ since I don’t want that piece of information in my Master Source. That little check mark is what causes the ‘X’ in the ‘D’ column of the Source Template image above or the ‘Y’ in the Citation column in the Source Templates image above that.

I have found that understanding source templates and how they help create sources has helped me understand the way RootsMagic 8 handles sources and citations.

RootsMagic Clean-Up Pt 3

As I’m working to clean-up my RootsMagic 7 file while previewing RootsMagic 8, I’m also discovering issues with the data in my file that I didn’t even know were issues. These issues were pointed out in the YouTube video, Cleaning Your Family Tree in RootsMagic.

About 13 minutes into the video, he discusses ‘Facts with Text Dates’. I had no idea this could be an issue! I ran the Fact List Report selecting the option “Facts with Text Dates”.

When I printed that report, I had FOUR pages of issues.

  • typing errors
  • dates enclosed in <> brackets, ex: <1877>
  • the word ‘deceased’ (or variations) entered as a death date
  • the word ‘unknown’ entered for the birth or death date
  • places or names entered in the death field

I’ll own the typos and possibly the names/places entered in the date fields. However, I think most of these other issues were created when I imported individuals from FamilySearch. Now that I know this can be an issue, I also know to look for it when I do such an import.

To work my way thru these 4 pages of issues, I decided to see if I could create a ‘marked group’ for a majority of the people on this list. Since many of the dates on this list contain <>, deceased, or unknown, I decided to create a marked group based on people having a fact containing those items.

Now that I have this marked group, I can work my way thru the list to edit the events.

When I’m finished working my way thru this marked group, I can re-create the report to see what I have left and work my way thru them until all of these dates are corrected.

RM8 Source Procedure

I recently wrote about my process to handle Ancestry Hints in RM 7. Since I am previewing RootsMagic 8, I thought it would help me to write out the process for adding sources from the RootsMagic side.

Since I recently found an obituary on for a cousin, I thought that I’d try adding that obituary to my RM8 trial database. Since this database was recently created from my RM7 file, it should contain the my source for the Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN) newspaper.

The obituary is for Mark A. Crudge.

Locate Mark Crudge in file by clicking on the person icon.

  • I’m used to clicking on the list and starting to type the name to move to that section of the list. This method does not currently work.
  • I could scroll thru my list, but it faster to enter the surname in the search box. As I type, the list narrows down to surnames beginning with the letters I’ve typed.

Since I don’t find Mark Crudge in my list, he will need added. Thus, I click on his father, Marion Jene Crudge and switch to the family view.

I then click on the “+ Add Child” link to open a window to add Mark Crudge as a child of Marion Jene Crudge.

I use the information in the obituary to fill in the birth and death dates for Mark Crudge and then click OK to add him to the family.

I now have Mark Crudge listed as a child of Marion Jene Crudge and a window open to add information about Mark. This is where I need to add the obituary as a source.

Since I can use the obituary as a source for Mark’s death, I click on the death fact. On the right side of the window, there is a section for sources. Since I already have a lot of sources in my file, I would first check to see if the source exists. Thus, I would click on ‘Cite Existing Source’.

That opens up a window for me to select the source. In RM7, I would have clicked on the list and started typing ‘News-IN J’ since that is the pattern I used to name my newspaper sources. Since RM8 works differently, I need to use the search box. So, I start typing the same in the search box and my source is listed.

If unsure, I could use RM8’s super ability to search and type in the name of the paper. (Journal and Courier, in this example) When I do this, I discover that I have two sources — likely the same that I will need to see if I can merge.

Since the first one uses my desired naming pattern, I click on it and then click the NEXT button. That opens the ‘Add Citation’ window.

I enter the information from my source using the tab key to move to the next field — until the remaining fields are not visible on the screen. At that point, I must the the scroll function to get to the end of the screen.

Scrolling down on the citation, I can locate the green > link to add the detail.

This is where I add notes for the citation. This could be as simple as copying the ‘record’ information from Ancestry to transcribing a record or obituary. In this case, I transcribed the obituary.

I can click the < arrow at the top of the window to return to the citation.

In RootsMagic 7, my next step would be to add the image to the citation. Unfortunately, I don’t see a way to add an image to the actual citation from this screen. So, I click on OK to save the citation.

When I click the OK button to close the citation to get back to the edit person screen. This screen has the ability to add an image to the death fact.

However, I would rather have the image attached to the citation. And, I discovered how by chance. Once the citation is created, I can go back to the citation and now the ability to add the image is available.

Clicking on the ‘Add Media’ link I can browse to my file and enter a caption.

Now that I have the obituary citation attached to the death fact, I want to also attach it to his birth fact. Thus, I click on the birth. I now have 3 choices: Add new source, cite existing source and paste citation. Ideally, I would like to ‘paste the citation.’ This means that I need to go back and figure out how to ‘memorize’ the citation. Going back to the death fact and the citation, there is no obvious ‘memorize’ link. However, scrolling over the various icons reveals the icon that looks like two pieces of paper are for memorizing the citation.

After clicking on the ‘memorize citation’ icon, I migrated back to the birth fact to paste the citation. Clicking to paste the citation opens a ‘Paste Memorized Citation’ window.

Unsure of what the difference is between ‘re-use’ and ‘paste’, I posted a question to the Facebook group and thanks to the answer there, I think I have this figured out.

  • Select ‘Re-use the memorized citation’ when you want an exact copy. This is what I would use for the obituary when adding the citation to the various events (think birth, death, burial, marriage, residence of survivors)
  • Select ‘Paste a copy of the memorized citation’ when I want to to make a small change in the citation. I can see this being helpful when citing various sections of a county history where I would change the page number with each individual citation.

Thus, I selected to ‘re-use’ the citation. When I go to sources and locate the citation, I find that it has been used 3 times.

Clicking on the > to the right of ‘Used 3’, the right column changes to show the times the citation was used.

I have successfully added Mark Crudge to my file and added source citations for his birth and death dates based on his obituary. By writing out the process, I have a better understanding of how this works and also will have notes for future reference.

Ancestry Hints

Randy Seaver recently wrote about his procedure for handling Ancestry hints. As I read his blog, I thought that I also need to write out my procedure – for myself. I’m participating in the preview of RootsMagic 8 and realize that figuring out my procedure in RootsMagic 8 if I can document my RootsMagic 7 procedure.

I would suggest that other RootsMagic users think about and possible document how Ancestry Hints are handled. This documentation might include:

  • Deciding whether to accept or ignore Hints in one’s Ancestry Tree
  • Deciding whether TreeShare is one way or two way and if one way, which way (up to Ancestry or down from Ancestry)
  • Deciding where media files are saved
  • Deciding how media files are named

My TreeShare Goals

  • RootsMagic is where I store my genealogy data
  • I have one file for all of my data — including floating trees of families that I’ve researched
  • I add source information for facts as I find the information. Thus, some of my sourcing is old and not up to today’s standards.
  • I want control of the naming of the image files that I add to the RootsMagic gallery.
  • I want control of where the media files are stored.
  • I want to share my research with others. Thus, I have a public tree on Ancestry.
  • I want my Ancestry tree to be sourced. I want others to see where the information in my tree came from.

Thus, my TreeShare is one way: from RootsMagic up to Ancestry.

When TreeShare was first released as a RootsMagic feature, I used TreeShare to create a new tree on Ancestry. This created a connection between my RootsMagic database and my Ancestry tree. I leave the Ancestry WebHints enabled. This places a light bulb icon by each person that turns yellow when there are Ancestry hints available.

Thus, my process of working with Ancestry hints begins with these yellow light bulbs. When I click on a light bulb, a window opens telling me how many hints that person has and whether any of them are ‘pending.’ The ‘pending’ hints are hints on Ancestry that I have not done anything with.

I can click on any of the underlined numbers to open up the ‘Ancestry WebHints’ window for that ancestor. The top portion of this window shows the hints. The ‘pending’ hints will be listed at the top with a blue question mark icon to the left. Accepted hints will have a green check mark icon to the left. The bottom half of the window shows my RootsMagic data on the left and data suggested by the hint on the right. In between the top and bottom portions of the window are various buttons.

This is where my desire for control takes over. I do not use the ‘Accept’, ‘Reject’ or ‘Undecided’ buttons on the right side of the screen. Instead I click on the ‘Show on Ancestry’ button. That opens up a tab on my browser for that ancestor.

I then click on the Hints to open that screen.

On the Ancestry page, I right click the Review button to open it in a new tab.

At this point, I evaluate the suggested source. If it is a source that I want to add, then I work in BOTH Ancestry and RootsMagic. In Ancestry, I will open any image in a new tab so that I can access the image while keeping the ‘record’ information open in its own tab.

Since the record shown is a marriage announcement for Paul Mentzer, the son of C. O Mentzer, my next step would be to open Paul Mentzer’s individual record and go to his marriage record to see whether I already have the suggested source. In this case I don’t already have the source.

It looks like I have a newspaper clipping citation that might be to the same newspaper article but not a citation for the newspaper, I need to add this as an additional source.

Hoping that I already have a source for this newspaper, I would click on ‘CITE EXISTING SOURCE’

Then, I would type N to go to the ‘Ns’ in my list of sources and scroll to the ‘News-KS’ section looking for a News-KS Neosho Falls Post’ source. My newspaper sources are named using the following pattern: News-ST newspaper title (location), where ST is the abbreviation for the state.

Since the source already exists, I select that source: News-KS Neosho Falls Post (Neosho Falls, KS) EE.

Then I fill in the Source Details information.

Next, I click on the ‘Detail Text’ tab across the top. In the ‘Research Notes’ section of that tab, I transcribe the record or copy the suggested record information from Ancestry.

Next, I click on the MEDIA tab so that I can add an image to this source.

To get the image, I go back to the image on my browser. In this case that would be the newspaper article on On, I click on the Print/Save button and then click on ‘Select Portion of Page’. This allows me to draw a box around the article. I then click ‘SAVE’

When I click on SAVE, I navigate to the folder where I want to save the image and make sure to name the file according to m established standard (yyyy-event-name-details).

Once I have the image saved, I then go to the MEDIA tab in RootsMagic and click on the ‘Add New Media’ Button. From that window, I click on the DISK icon and migrate to that same folder and file.

As I add the image, I create a caption similar to the file name.

With the Media added, I click ‘OK’ to finish adding the source to RootsMagic. When a source applies to multiple events or people, I will copy the source and then migrate to the other event/person and paste the source.

I then go back to Ancestry and click YES to accept the hint and then click Save to Your Tree

That will add the source to the list of sources and link it to the event on my Ancestry tree.

To finish the process, I can do TreeShare to upload my version of this source. When I go to TreeShare for this individual, Paul Mentzer, and look at the marriage fact, I can see that the sources are PINK in RootsMagic and Green in Ancestry. That difference in color indicates that RootsMagic has information that is different from Ancestry.

Clicking the box next to Marriage allows me to select, ‘Update existing event on Ancestry’

That will prompt me to put a click next to SOURCES, the one thing that is different for the Marriage record. When I click Accept Changes, RootsMagic will then upload that information to Ancestry for this one individual. (TreeShare is one person at a time.)

Hopefully, writing this will help me transition into RootsMagic 8.

RootsMagic Clean-Up Pt 2

How old is your genealogy file? Have you been brave and started over from scratch? Or are you like me and have what in computer time would be considered an ‘ancient’ file.

I’m not sure exactly how old my file would be. My first genealogy software was a copy of Personal Ancestral File (PAF) that I purchased on a trip to the LDS library at Salt Lake. As I was gathering lots of documents on several trips to Salt Lake, I also found myself needing to include facts other than birth, death, marriage and burial. Thus, I created ‘Notes’ to enter that information. As I collected more and more data, I found I needed software that would help me to tie these sources to the various events in a person’s life. Thus, I switched to The Master Genealogist and imported my PAF file.

After this transition, I had tons of data clean-up to do. All of my ‘custom’ events in PAF came into TMG as ‘NOTES’. Thus, I had to go thru my file, one person at a time and convert these ‘NOTES’. When support for TMG ended, I again transitioned my file. This time I moved to RootsMagic. If I dig deep enough into my RootsMagic data, I can still find individuals with custom events titled, ‘Notes’.

Thus, as I’m going thru the ‘clean-up’ of my RootsMagic data, I know that some of the clean-up issues I’m encountering go back to that original PAF file, while others go back to my TMG data. This was especially evident as I worked on my list of places.

Prior to my transition to RootsMagic, I had not standardized my entry of places. I knew enough to enter the various elements: town, county, state. However, I sometimes abbreviated words like Township and County while spelling them out at other times. The same was true for states, sometimes I abbreviated them while other times they were written out.

With RootsMagic, I started using the Gazetteer and standardizing how I entered places. Thus, my list of places had these newer standardized places mixed in with my older non-standardized entries for place information. Now that I’ve made it thru my place list merging the obvious duplicates, I still have some issues in my place list.

These issues include:

  • dates entered in the place field
  • place details as part of the place instead of being in the ‘place detail’ field. This is particularly true of burial places where the name of the cemetery is in the place field and not the place detail field.
  • incomplete places such as Anderson, Indiana with no idea as to whether this is the county or the city
  • places with the wrong state attached: Aberdeen, Brown, Ohio or is it Aberdeen, Brown, South Dakota or both? I wasn’t always paying close enough attention when TMG’s ability to automatically fill in the state with the last used information entered the incorrect state. I’m guessing that some of my place issues go back to those errors.

Cleaning up these issues will require the tools found in RootsMagic 8. In RM 8, I can see what events a place is tied to. Working with the example of Aberdeen, Brown County, I can search the place list for Aberdeen and pull up the two places in question.

IF I look to the right side of the screen, I can see how many events are tied to the highlighted place. To the right of the word Events is a >.

Clicking that green carot (>), a list of events tied to the place will open on the screen.

Clicking on the pencil, will open the person screen where I can look at the facts and attached sources to see if I have an incorrectly entered place.

At this point, my place clean-up is done in RM7 and will wait for further clean-up until I transfer my data to RM8. This ability to go from a place to the events containing that place is a great new feature that will be found in RootsMagic 8.

RootsMagic Clean-Up

It’s the first of a new year and as is typical of a new year, resolutions are proposed to become better organized when it comes to one’s genealogy. Usually those resolutions deal with paper files, photos or even digital files. Sometimes, thanks to Thomas MacEntee, that resolution might involve a ‘ genealogy do-over‘ or serious review of ones data.

For me, my resolution needs to be about cleaning up my RootsMagic 7 data. As I’m participating in a review of RootsMagic 8 (think public beta testing on steroids), I’m finding that there are issues with my data in RootsMagic 7 that should be resolved prior to the release of RootsMagic 8.

For me, this clean up began with source templates. Because I had merged RootsMagic files by dragging data from one RM file into my primary file, I ended up with duplicate source templates. Thanks to the various people that contribute to SQLite Tools for Roots Magic, I was able to use the SQL function to merge most of these duplicated source templates. Even after carefully working my way thru this process, I ended up with a few remaining ‘duplicates’. My few remaining duplicates were renamed so that I wouldn’t use them when creating new sources.

RootsMagic 8 introduces the ability to merge duplicate sources and citations. This means that the census source and its source details (citation) that I copied / pasted to each member of the household becomes one citation after the merge. This one citation can be edited and have those edits automatically applied to each of its uses.

As I’m learning to use these new capabilities with a test file, it was recommended that I clean up my places prior to merging the sources and citations. As I’ve added data to an individual in RM 7, I’ve noticed that I am prompted with multiple choices when I start entering place data. Sometimes, I’ve taken the time to go to my places list and merge those duplicates so that I’m only prompted with one place. However, I haven’t done a thorough cleanup of my places — and they are a mess!

For example, I can have the following entries for a state

  • , Kentucky, USA
  • ,, Kentucky
  • Kentucky
  • Kentucky, United States
  • Kentucky, USA

Merging these duplicate places is fairly simple — but will be time consuming.

  1. Click on place to KEEP
  2. Click on Merge
  3. Click on duplicate entries [be careful here – many townships and counties are in multiple states]
  4. Click on the MERGE SELECTED PLACES button

Another area that I need to ‘clean up’ is my source list. For most of my sources, I’ve used the same naming pattern for that type of source. Thus, theoretically, all of my census sources would be listed together alphabetically. This works as long as I follow that pattern. However, I have quite a few census sources whose name starts with the year instead of the word census. Thus, they aren’t in the same area of my sources list as my other census sources.

Fixing the source list issue is a matter of renaming the sources that are out of place.

For additional ways to clean-up my RootsMagic data, I’m going to refer to the 2018 RootsMagic TV video, Cleaning Your Family Tree in RootsMagic.

These tasks will be tedious and time consuming. However, I’m guessing that my data will work better in RootsMagic 8 because of the time I spend cleaning it up now.

2020 Stats / 2021 Goals

In my last years of teaching, our career and technical education instructors were learning to use ‘Smart Goals’ for their program improvement plans. A ‘Smart Goal‘ is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.

Unfortunately, I haven’t applied my knowledge of ‘Smart Goals’ to my genealogy. If someone asked me what my goal has been for the past couple of years, my answer would be find the parents of my ancestor, James Crawford. This goal is specific. It is measurable in that I either find them or I don’t. Since James Crawford is one of my brick walls, I would say it is a relevant goal. After about 40 years of genealogy research, much of it spent figuring out my Crawford lineage, I’m beginning to wonder if this goal is attainable. And it definitely isn’t time based.

Even though I haven’t met that goal, I feel like I have made progress. I definitely know more about the Crawford and related families that were in early Garrard County, Kentucky. However, this progress is difficult to measure. My RootsMagic and Ancestry Tree statistics do show growth, but not specifically toward this goal.

RootsMagic People1439218180
RootsMagic Families47825836
RootsMagic Events4160055042
RootsMagic Places47247233
RootsMagic Sources41284758
RootsMagic Citations5669071098
Ancestry Tree: People1390717659
Ancestry Tree: Photos798613198
Ancestry Tree: Records865712269

Since I tend to post my findings on my blog, the number of posts should reflect my progress. In 2019, I published 265 posts. In 2020, I only published 60 posts. I think that decline in posts reflects the loss of focus the pandemic brought to my research and especially to my blogging.

To help me get back on track, I’ve started working on some specific, measurable and attainable goals:

  • Continue posting narrative reports for my 2nd great grandparents with the goal of posting one a month
    • Clean up sources
    • Verify that sentences read correctly
  • Continue documenting DNA ThruLines for my 3rd great grandparents and document any new ThruLines for grandparents thru 2nd great grandparents
    • Continue updating descendancy research for these ancestors
    • Post a descendancy list report
  • Begin documenting Crawford families in Montgomery County, Virginia from its formation to at least 1820 using resources available on the web and posting my findings
    • land records
    • tax records
    • vital records
  • Learn to use RootsMagic 8
    • Continue working with a small file on the preview program
    • Report issues as I encounter them
    • As new updates are released, re-test previously reported issues
    • Figure out a ‘citation naming’ protocol to use when I transfer my genealogy file
    • participate in the Facebook group and any applicable forum

Instead of adding more goals, I’m going to stop here in hopes that I can attain these goals.

Creating Ancestor Reports

Have you ever looked at what others have posted about their ancestors and wondered how they created the post? That’s where my mind has been since Randy Seaver wrote ‘Dear Randy: How Do you make the descendant list …‘.

Not only was I intrigued by that post, but I investigated some of his ’52 Ancestors’ posts and wondered how he created those posts. Basically, those posts have the following sections: Descended through, Person, Individual Events, Shared Events, Notes, Sources. Since I know that Randy Seaver is a RootsMagic user, I wanted to see if there was a RootsMagic report that would automatically create similar content. And I believe I’ve figured it out! I think Randy Seaver is using the ‘Individual Summary’ Report. The options of this report can be changed to also print the parents and spouses/children.

I used a distant cousin to experiment with this report. My results were similar to those posted by Randy Seaver.

However, when I use that report for one of my ancestors, I get multiple pages of individual facts. Instead of a nice compact report, I have a report that is overwhelming.

For these situations, I prefer the Narrative Report. I have to admit that I was a user of The Master Genealogist. I loved its ability to craft sentences and then pull those sentences into a narrative report. That capability was captured by John Cardinal is his Second Site software to produce web pages based on those narrative reports. (He has also created GedSite which uses a GedCom file to build a web site.)

RootsMagic has a built in Narrative Report that pulls the sentences. One of the limitations of the report is how paragraphs are created. Basically there are three options

  • keep fact sentences in same paragraph
  • New paragraph after every fact
  • New paragraph after facts with notes

The first option creates a report that is one big paragraph.

Option 2 creates a report that is much easier to read – but every sentence is a new paragraph.

The third option would depend on how the Notes are used. Since I converted from TMG, I wasn’t used to using the Notes Field. Thus, I don’t have a lot of Notes. Since I don’t have a lot of Notes, the third option does not impact the output of a narrative report — I get a large paragraph.

Knowing that I want to use the Narrative report but want some paragraphing, I created a fact type without a sentence. I called this fact type, Paragraph. Then, I just created a fact using a ‘Sort Date’ to place it where I wanted a new paragraph.

Then, when I create the narrative report, I get multiple paragraphs.

Thus, I need to spend some time with the report figuring out where I want a new paragraph. While doing this, I also review the sentences to make sure they are stating the correct information.

Since narrative reports currently do not include the marriage or birth of children in the report, I’ve followed advice found on the RootsMagic forum. For the marriage record, I am sharing the marriage family fact with the bride and groom instead of the spouse role suggested in the forum. This allows me to create the sentence for the role. (Note: I couldn’t get the suggested sentence to work correctly, so I divided it into two separate roles.)

  • Groom Role: [Husband:heshe] married [Wife:given] [Wife:surname]< [desc]>< [Date]>< [PlaceDetails]>< [Place]>.
  • Bride Role: [Wife:heshe] married [Husband:given] [Husband:surname]< [desc]>< [Date]>< [PlaceDetails]>< [Place]>.

Since I was used to documenting the parent/child relationship, it has been easy to adapt the suggestion by TomH to create a ‘childparent’ fact. By adding this fact to the child and sharing it with the parents, I can add source citations that identify the parents. Since I’m not overly skilled at creating sentences in RM, my sentence structures are very simple.

Once finished making sure the paragraphing, sentences and sourcing are how I want them, I have a narrative report that can be created at will for that ancestor.

Evaluating ThruLines

I am an Ancestry ThruLines proponent. Are you?

Most of those speaking out against ThruLines are either expressing doubt about all of the ‘Evaluate’ suggestions or have found actual errors in their ThruLines. Their point is valid, especially if one doesn’t take the time to document the suggested lineage.

I think the fact that I have tried to document descendants of my second great grandfathers has affected my opinion of ThruLines. Since I already have identified and documented the children, grandchildren and most of the great grandchildren of these ancestors, ThruLines is pulling information from MY tree to draw the connections between my ancestor and the parents of a DNA match – or – often my DNA match. Thus, I don’t have much to evaluate.

However, when I move back a generation, I’m finding that I have been lax about researching the descendants of my 3rd great grandfathers. Thus, I have a lot to ‘Evaluate’ on my ThruLines.

To complete this evaluation, I start at the top and look at what documentation I have and what I might be missing. In particular, I’m concentrating on the following types of sources:

  • Census records
  • Vital records
  • Find a Grave records
  • Obituaries

Basically, I’m looking for enough documentation to support the family relationships, one generation at a time until reaching my DNA match.

So in my example, I will first check for missing documentation for the Phillip Mentzer, William Andrew Mentzer, and Moses Henry Mentzer.

Based on the need to ‘Evaluate’ Grace and Francis Mentzer, I obviously don’t have the family of Francis A. G. Mentzer in my RootsMagic database. To start the ‘Evaluation’ process, I use the ability of RootsMagic to connect with the FamilySearch tree. I know that the FamilySearch tree is controversial, but I view it as a starting point based on the consensus of other researchers. Thus, I will use RootsMagic to pull down a spouse and children for Francis A. G. Mentzer.

Once I have the family in my RootsMagic database, I will then use RootsMagic’s TreeShare to upload that family to my tree on Ancestry. Shortly after the upload is completed, I will start evaluating Ancestry hints for Francis A. G. Mentzer and his children. As I work with each hint, I am adding events and documentation to my RootsMagic database. After working thru the hints, I again do an upload to my Ancestry tree via RootsMagic’s TreeShare.

Then I start the entire process over again with the next generation down. In this example, that would mean pulling down the spouse and any identified children for Grace Mentzer and her brother, Francis G. Mentzer. Since this generation likely has living children, the FamilySearch tree will probably be incomplete. My next step is to upload to Ancestry so I can use their hinting system to locate records. Since many of their children are likely living, I need to locate records that identify those children. In some cases, I have been able to find birth and/or marriage records for the children. Most of the time, however, I need an obituary that identifies the children. As I find information identifying the children, I add them to my database as living individuals.

Once I have data to support the relationship suggested by ThruLines, I then document the DNA connection. I have created two PRIVATE facts for this documentation: DNAMatch and DNAThruLines:

For my DNA match, I add a DNAMatch fact. I enter 2020 as the SORT DATE and make sure PRIVATE is checked. I then add a source. I use the DNA-Ancestry ThruLines source that I created in RootsMagic. For the ‘Item of Interest’ I enter information about the match. At first, I was only entering the match’s name in this field. However, I have started being more descriptive here to help me identify which of the tests I manage are being matched. Thus, I’m trying to use the following pattern for the ‘Item of Interest’

Initials of tester shares __ cM __ segments with DNAMatch

On the Detail text screen, I add the ThruLines information starting with our common ancestor and working down to the match. I add information about our relationship and about the quantity of DNA shared.

The identity of my match has been whited out in the above image to protect their privacy. Once I have completed filling out the source, I the the MEMORIZE button to copy it.

I then move back a generation and create a DNAThruLines fact again making sure it is marked private and paste the recently copied source. As I document additional cousins, I add their source to this one fact.

I work my way back creating DNAThruLines facts and adding sources until I reach the common ancestor. Instead of continuing that practice back further generations, I SHARE the DNAThruLines fact with the ancestors of that common ancestor. In cases where there is only one wife, I also share the fact with the spouse of the common ancestor.

Judson Foster Crawford is the common ancestor for the DNAThruLines sources shown above. His DNAThruLines fact is shared with his wife, Mary Foster, and their ancestors going back about 3 generations.

By sharing the DNAThruLines fact in this way, I have already documented the DNA relationships thru that one child when I move back a generation. Thus, I only have to document the DNA relationships thru the other children.

By working thru the ThruLines suggestions in this way, I am improving my tree by adding descendants and documentation for those descendants. I am also able to add documentation for my DNA match. I am currently working on DNA matches for my 3rd great grandparents. This is a slow process, but is allowing me to validate those ThruLines suggestions.

Always Learning – Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Do you like to pick up tips and tricks from other researchers? I know I do! I especially like those surveys or challenges that cause me to look at my data in a different way. That’s one of the things I like about Randy Seaver’s “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun” challenges. Not only does Randy challenge me to look at my data differently – but he often provides the instructions on how to do it.

That is especially true of last night’s challenge.

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):

Go into your Genealogy Management Program (GMP; either software on your computer, or an online family tree) and figure out how to Count how many surnames you have in your family tree database.

2)  Tell us which GMP you’re using and how you did this task.

3)  Tell us what the top 20  surnames are in your database and, if possible, how many entries.  How many different surnames are in your family tree?

4)  Write about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, in a status or comment on a Facebook post.

Since like Randy, I use RootsMagic 7 to manage my genealogy research, I simply have to follow his directions to figure out my top 20 surnames.

So within RootsMagic 7, I pulled down the REPORTS menu and clicked on LISTS for the type of report. Then I just scrolled down the right side of the window to locate the SURNAME STATISTICS LIST.

When the REPORT SETTINGS window opened, I needed to change the ‘Sort List by’ to ‘FREQUENCY OF SURNAME’.

With 53 pages of surnames, I have to admit I have a lot of different surnames in my project. My top 20 surnames include some surprises:

  • Crawford — 1128
  • Ricketts — 903
  • Foster — 400
  • Briles — 359
  • Curry — 339
  • _____ — 291
  • Wells — 277
  • Thompson — 258
  • Hammond — 214
  • Sellers — 185
  • Currey — 178
  • Mentzer — 168
  • Broyles — 140
  • Smith — 134
  • Burke — 124
  • Young — 112
  • Rush — 101
  • Allen — 100
  • Ralston — 89
  • Miller — 83

So, what were some of the surprises?
Well, the _____ and the blank surnames shouldn’t have surprised me, since I have a lot of spouses without a surname. I just didn’t expect them to show up in my Top 20.
What is really surprising is the FAN club surnames that made my Top 20. This would include SELLERS, YOUNG, ALLEN and MILLER. 
So, I wondered where the ancestral surnames of my 2nd great grandparents appeared on the list. So, here’s the list of those ancestral surnames and where they appear on the list:

  • Crawford — 1st
  • Foster — 3rd
  • Hammond — 9th
  • Ralston — 19th
  • Currey — 11th (withCURRY at  5th)
  • Burke – 15th
  • Hutchinson — 23rd 
  • Harding – 26th
  • Briles – 4th
  • Thompson — 8th
  • Ricketts — 2nd
  • Christy — 78th
  • Mentzer — 12th
  • Minnick — 77th
  • Wells — 7th
  • Crandall — 33rd

Thanks Randy for the challenge!