Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Steadily Improving my Family Tree Database

I haven't updated my readers about the status of my genealogy database recently.  I'm presently working with my master database in RootsMagic 4, having decided that it was the easiest program for me to use to create master source citations.  In the process, I've found some problems with it, and am not sure that I will always use it, but for now, it is my software of choice.  I also have Legacy Family Tree 7 and Family Tree Maker 2011.

I consciously chose to try to improve my database, rather than start over new.  With over 39,000 people and over 100,000 events, that was easier than starting with a new, clean, well-sourced database. 

In the past few months, I have done these tasks:

*  Standardized all of my place names using Family Tree Maker 2011.  It seemed the easiest program to use for this task.  However, it made all of the USA entries end in "USA."  I also geo-coded as many of these place names as I could.  As I recall, I was able to reduce the number of place names from about 6,500 down to about 4,400, and standardize them.  One problem here is that I lost all of my "historic place names" (places that are now named something else, or are in another jurisdiction (county, state, colony, country, etc.).  Frankly, I didn't have many of those, and I used them inconsistently, so it was not a big loss. 

*  Created quite a few source citations in FTM 2011 before I did the GEDCOM studies in FTM 2011, LFT 7 and RM 4.  When I found that FTM 2011 really mangled source citations in GEDCOM files, I chose RootsMagic 4 to do this task because it didn't mangle sources in GEDCOM.

*  I found out that the FamilySearch Standard Finder, which presumably will be used in the FamilySearch Family Tree, uses "United States" as the standard country, so I used Edit = Find and Replace to change my "USA" place names to "United States."  This worked well.

*  During the Seaver Source Citation Saga, I decided that, based on my findings, that I should use Free-form citations in order to assure that at least Footnotes get passed through GEDCOM correctly.  I created "straw-man" Template Sources for a number of my source types, and used them to model the other 650 master source citations. 

*  I worked my way through all of my Master Sources, trying to edit them to put them in the proper sequence (e.g., for books - author, title italicized, publication information in parentheses).  I had quite a few master sources without any source elements at all, except, for example, "California Death Index"  or "Mass VRs."  I added "need data" or "need FHL film" to those to deal with later on.  This Master Source exercise took me over two weeks, and I'm still trying to fix the "shorthand" master sources by going to the website for online resources or WorldCat for book sources. 

*  I had a two inch stack of "to be added to the database" paper from research trips and online printing, so I added what I could to the database, including source citations when available.  The two inches of paper is now in the "to be filed" stack, which is now about two feet high. 

*  Once in awhile, I go to one of my online historical collection providers and search for newly added databases.  I often will mine them for Seaver data and add it to my database as I do it (adding source citations too!).  This is sort of therapy from all of the boring GEDCOM and source citation work. 

So now I have a database in RootsMagic 4 with:

*  People: 39,719
*  Families: 15,745
*  Events: 104,857
*  Sources: 679
*  Citations: 20,192
*  Repositories: 57
*  Places:  4,487
*  Multi-media Items: 0

As you can see, I have a long way to go with source citations.  I'm almost up to 20% coverage of all events.  But it's a start.

When I finish the Master Source editing task, the next big task is to dive into my 40 linear feet of paper in folders, notebooks and the "to be filed" stack to add source citations to many of the unsourced events in the database. 

Long-term, the plan is to go "data mining" in the online databases on,,, and to add more sourced events to the existing people and families. 

Eventually, I will be satisfied with what I have, and will proudly upload it to the various online family tree websites.  Probably in about 2020, just before they cart me off to Happy Acres Home for Addicted Genealogists (HAHA-G).

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Are all of your almost 40,000 names in your database related to you? I've just got my RootsMagic4 on my computer (I won it last month from blogging, I think Cheryl Palmer was the donee) - computer has been in hospital for a month. I'm just learning to use it and have moved all my info into it from PAF. Now I want to start 'cleaning' everything out.