Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Can Your Software Make A Place-Name-Event-Source List?

I have struggled for over 20 years to get source citations for each fact and/or event in my genealogy database. With over 39,000 persons in my database currently, that means that I have over 100,000 source citations to create, if I have a fact for each birth, death and marriage, not to mention facts and events like baptisms, christenings, residences, occupations, deeds, wills, etc. (I don't have all of those for each person in my database, but my guess is about 100,000 total at this time).

My problem is that I have master sources for some events, and even source citations (master source, volumes, pages, notes, etc.) for some events, but I'm struggling with how to find the events for which I have no sources and citations so that I can try to provide an appropriate source and citation.

Some people would say "your database is so poor and/or corrupted, that you should start over with a new database and only input data for which you have a source and citation." That would work, but is really unreasonable, to my way of thinking, because it would take years to accomplish it. I'm not a young person any more (I know, Amy Coffin has done this in the past year or so - more power to her!). If I worked 8 hours a day on inputting persons, events, sources and citations, and was able to do one every minute, it would take 208 days to enter the information for 100,000 events. But that doesn't count the research time it would take to find each source, create a proper master source, the proper citation and note, etc. It would take me more than one minute to find the information in my 30 feet of paper in notebooks for each fact - perhaps even ten to twenty minutes, assuming I can find the paper with the information on it. Now we're talking years if not decades.

So my choice is to use my existing database and try to fix it as best I can - to add quality master sources and quality citations, with citation notes, if possible, to as many events as possible.

How can I figure out the combination of persons with events in locations that already have sources attached to them, but have no citations? And those which do not have sources or citations attached to them?

What I need is a report that lists - for a specific location - the following:

* Person's name (and for a female, the name she was born with, married with and died with)
* Person's event (e.g., birth, baptism, marriage, divorce, death, burial)
* Event source (e.g., master source name, volume/page citation, citation notes)

Can any current genealogy software do this? I've really tried to find something like this in Family Tree Maker 16, Family Tree Maker 2010, RootsMagic 4 and Legacy Family Tree 7, but I have been unable to figure it out. One of the other software programs may have this feature - I haven't checked them. The solution may be in Custom Reports of some sort, but I haven't been able to configure a report the way I want it in the four programs I regularly use..

The closest I've come in RootsMagic 4 is to:

* Create a Source List report (Reports > Lists > Source List > Print a single source) for one master source (e.g., Westminster (Worcester, Massachusetts, USA) Vital Records to 1849 - I had two master sources in my database for this source, and had to merge them into one master source). This list gave me the birth names, event, event date and source citation (Volume, Page) of the persons and events for which I had an entry for this master source.

* Create a Place List report (Reports > Lists > Place List > Print all events in single place) for one place name. I had about 15 different locality names for Westminster, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA in my place name list, and had to merge all of them into one place name. This list gave me the birth names, events and event dates in my database for the selected place name, but not any source information.

* Compare the two lists, and note which persons and events do not have either a Citation (from the Source List) or don't have a Source (from the Place List). Then go find the source and citations. This still has the problem of the females married names in the event records.

* Do the same process for every place name in my database... there are thousands of them!

Obviously, this process will also take a long time, but at least I have a head start on it with the thousands of existing source citations and the 600 master sources already in my database (although many of them are "shorthand" master sources without the proper sourcing format).

An even better option for me would be if one or more of the genealogy software companies would create this super-duper Place-Person-Event-Source report (the PPES report?) in their software so that I, and others that might need it, could use it and improve my database quality to the point that I would be proud to share it.

Perhaps one of the software programs can already do this - if so, I would appreciate knowing how to create this desired report.

Does anybody else have this problem with their genealogy database? If so, how do you resolve these issues? I would love to hear your ideas!


theKiwi said...

Reunion for Macintosh can create a list/report based on a "Find Anything" where I search for

People - Number of Citations [operator] [number]

So I could have [operator] [number] be "= 0" or "< 2"

When I ran this on my 18,000 person file just now with "< 1" the result is a list of all the people who have no citations on their record at all.

I can also run the same query on Families to generate another list of the families that have zero (or some other chosen number) of Citations.


Shelley said...

Genbox can do this via custom reports, I'm 99% sure... I'll have a look when the kids are asleep. I'm happy to set up and send you a report options file if it does.

JL said...

Legacy has a couple of things for finding missing source information. One is under Search/Missing Sources. The other is a Source Citations report under the Report options. But, then I'm not sure if I understand your question.

Russ said...


Have you looked at the Family Tree Maker Version 2010 Individual Report? I think it will give you what you want on any Individual in your Database.

I can create a blog entry for you, if you wish. But, you know your database so you would know what specifically you are looking for.

Also, there is a Place Name Usage Report. Everyone who has an Event (fact) that takes place in a specific location. I have that on my blog.

There is a Source-Citation Report that will show you who is using which Source Citation.

These two reports, for me, have replaced all of my Custom Reports.

Please let me know.

Thank you,


Martin said...

I concur with Roger. Reunion can do this. I did what you are doing now a while ago for the siblings of my direct lines. It's tedious.

RootsMagic said...

I'm not sure I follow exactly what you are looking for, but in RootsMagic 4 you can try this...

- Reports > Lists > Fact Type list
- Choose "Facts without sources"

This will give you a list of every fact in your file w/o sources.

On that same report you can also filter which people you want to include.

Connie said...

In Legacy, from the Locations list, tag everyone with the location you want to work with.

Then, export those tagged individuals to a new Legacy file and run the Missing Sources search.

Connie said...

Or, in Legacy, now that I think about it a little more, first run the Missing Sources search for Anything and tag everyone in the list with (say) Tag 1.

Now, from the Locations List, highlight the location you want to work, and from the List Options button, Tag those individuals with Tag 2.

Go back to Search, and run a Detailed Search for Tag 1 and Tag 2.

Print the report; you won't get exactly what you're looking for in that it will only tell you these people have no citations in an event that occurred in the selected location, but it's close. Alternatively, you could use this process and run separate searches for Missing Sources for names, births, marriages, deaths, burials, etc. in step 1.

Geoff said...

In Legacy, go to Search > Find > Missing Sources tab. Here you can find individuals with missing sources for any combination of events.

Connie said...

Geoff of course is right that in Legacy you can select more than one type of Event on the Missing Source search (I was wrong in that regard), but if you want a report of these missing sources by location, not the entire database, you would still have to tag both the location and the missing sources, then run a Detailed Search for those two tags. Unless there is a selection on the Missing Source tab, or the report options, that I'm not seeing?

Tamura Jones said...

Why do I have so many ancestors without sources?

Julie Cahill Tarr said...

I see that some people have already beat me to the punch in terms of the Missing Source search in Legacy. While I've used this occasionally in the past, I have found it easier to go person by person and examine all the sources for an individual. This helps for a few reasons: 1) When I started, I either didn't include a source, or I assigned it to the individual as a whole (as opposed to the event); 2) I am able to clean up poorly sourced items, especially those entered before Legacy implemented their SourceWriter feature; and 3) it's going to take the same amount of time to update the sources no matter which way you do it, so I just assume start with RIN 1 and keep moving forward until I get to the end (some 9,000 people later).

I know you have many more people to work with than I do, but this is what works for me as a systematic approach. And the nice thing is, I probably don't have to do a whole lot with the last 1,000 or so people, as those late additions should be pretty clean.

Hope you are able to find something that works for you and you get the job done sometime soon.

Gwynn said...


I agree that inputting all those master sources would take too much time! I resorted to the creation of footnotes in the Notes section of Legacy because I could not figure out how to create a complete source citation. Also, when I go to "write" a section of my family history I don't have to dig for the info. Although, I do like Legacy's location list and time lines but they are not as useful in the library when you want to see which sources you already checked.