Thursday, December 1, 2011

Exploring RootsMagic 5 - Post 3: The CountyCheck Feature

I'm exploring the new features in RootsMagic 5, which was released on Monday. This series started with Exploring RootsMagic 5 - Post 1: The View Screens and Exploring RootsMagic 5 - Post 2: The Research Manager.

The next NEW feature is called CountyCheck.  The publicity for the program said:

*  Automatically checks every county you enter (US, Canada, UK, Australia) to verify that it actually existed at the time of the event

*  Report gives you a list of all events in counties which didn't exist at the time

*  Lets you access maps and county histories for the US, Canada, UK, and Australia

There is more there than we can work with in one post, so we'll look at them one at a time.

First, I went to Tools > Program Options and made sure that the last item on the menu - "Use CountyCheck when entering places" - was checked.

I have many Facts/Events in my database that have been standardized to the standard of town/city, county, state/province, country standard (e.g., Medfield, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States) even for Facts/Events that were recorded before Norfolk became a Massachusetts County (it was in Suffolk before 1793), before Massachusetts was a State (it was called Massachusetts Bay before the Revolutionary War), and before the United States was a country.  I did this earlier in 2011 when I combined and/or standardized all of my Place Names using Legacy Family Tree 7.  It was the easiest thing to do at the time.

Let's see what happens.  I took these screen shots while I was working with Jonathan White (1732-1806).  I added another Birth Fact to see what transpired:

Here is the Birth Fact entered with 1732 entered as the Birth Date and Medfield, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States entered as the Place:

The Fact was entered into the Fact List on the "Edit Person" screen.  When I clicked the "Close" button, the "CountyCheck" screen came up (left side of screen):

This "CountyCheck" screen indicates that:

"Norfolk was eliminated on 18 September 1679.  Massachusetts Bay wasn't created until 4 March 1629.  United States wasn't created until on 15 November 1777."

The message had Norfolk, Massachusetts Bay and United States linked to an explanation of the dates in the database.  I clicked on Massachusetts Bay and saw:

A window for Massachusetts came up that explained:

*  Massachusetts Bay Colony existed from 4 March 1629 to 7 October 1691 as part of British America
*  Massachusetts Bay Province existed from 7 October 1691 to 10 March 1778 as part of British America
*  Massachusetts as a State was created on 10 March 1778 as part of the United States.

Okay, those look right.  So perhaps I should change all of my Place Names for "Massachusetts, United States" to "Massachusetts Bay, British America" before 10 March 1778.

What about Medfield in Norfolk County in Massachusetts Bay?  The list of Suggested Place Names in screen 2 above provides a list of Counties to select from.  The CountyCheck does not tell you what County a City/Town was in for a specific time period - you have to figure that out yourself and choose the right County.  I know that the area of Medfield in present-day Norfolk County was in Suffolk County before 1793, so if I select that from the list, click on the "Change" button and my Birth Fact is changed to "Medfield, Suffolk, Massachusetts Bay, British America:"

I checked several other place names to see what their historical place names might be.  for example:

*  In 1732, San Diego, British America is suggested for the current San Diego, California, United States after 1850.

*  In 1820, Norfolk, Upper Canada, British North America is suggested for the current Norfolk, Ontario, Canada.

* In 1860, Norfolk, Upper Canada, Canada, British North America is suggested for the current Norfolk, Ontario, Canada.

*  In 1670, Plymouth, British America is suggested for the current Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States (I could find no reference in this CountyCheck that referred to Plymouth Colony). 

*  In 1800, Dixfield, York, Massachusetts, United States is suggested for current Dixfield, Oxford, Maine, United States.

I'm sure my readers can come up their own list of historical place names that have changed over the years.  I'll be happy to test them out for you if you make a comment to this post.

Entering Historical Place Names is what is recommended for Facts/Events, using the jurisdictions existing at the time of the Fact/Event.  The reason is that a historical record will probably be found in the historical jurisdiction rather than the current place jurisdictions. 

That's all very well when you are entering data into the Place fields the first time.  What about my database with about 50,000 place name entries that don't match their historical place name jurisdictions?  My guess is that I have to do these one at a time. 

There may be a way to do this in the Lists > Place List.  I could edit every place name for Facts/Events before 1778 and change it to the Historical Place Names, and then correct the ones after 1778 to the current place name.  Or vice versa.  That would be a major task for me. 

Before I do this, I need to make sure that the historical place names for the counties, states and countries are a standard used by genealogists.  Are they?  I don't know! 

Does anyone know of a standard "Historical Place Name" list for current U.S. states and counties, UK counties, Canadian counties and provinces, and Australian states?

What we need is a place list that lists the historical place names with the time period for the historical place names, and then we could click a button to change all of them (I don't know about you, but I'm going to save a copy of my database before I do this!). 

We'll look at the CountyCheck Report next time.

The "What's New in RootsMagic 5 Webinar" from 29 November is now available to watch, for free, at  Bruce Buzbee goes through all of the new features in this webinar.  I commend it to your viewing if you want to see how all of the new features work.

Disclosure: I have received free software and other gifts previously from RootsMagic at conferences, but I purchased RootsMagic 5as an upgrade. I was not paid to provide this review.


Focus Grandma! FOCUS!! said...

Randy, I have actually been working with my Legacy database, changing the country before 1775 to America rather than the United States. What was I thinking when I did this ~laughs~ Now I see that it should be "British America" oh my! You are right, I wish there was somewhere there was a list for a standard place name.

Good Luck and thanks again for your guide through Roots Magic 5.

Unknown said...

Randy, Thanks for your thorough descriptions of RM5 functions. As I have been working to change place names to their time-sensitive correct identity (using County Check), I have been adding a parenthetical note to the Place Details box to indicate the later county and/or state name. For some locations the later locality name would be self-evident; for others, however, not so much. I figure that this will help me as I try to track down these people/places.

Eileen said...

I have been recording the historic location names. The problem i run into is that I can't take advantage of modern geo coding for the location to locate on a map today. Maybe these software programs ought to offer a historic location and current location for each fact. Of course, there is no guarantee that in 100 years the current location will be the same either.

Thanks for introducing us to the new features in RM5.