Aug 292012

My son, Russ, and I are collaborators in our family genealogical pursuits…   He is the technologically savvy member of the team and our webmaster.  In addition, he challenges me to move increasingly toward a fully genealogy 2.0 (web-based) system.  When time is available, he contributes to the research.  I am field researcher and data manager.  I try to keep abreast of current trends and directions among the more visible members of the genealogical community (via blogs, etc).  My latest project has been tidying up our research database so it can be moved to our webside.  This is my report to Russ…

Well, Russ, I have been at the task rather steadily for the past couple of months.  This note is to share what I have done and what I have learned.  As you are well aware, I had previously pruned our database down to about 700 people – direct line ancestors and their immediate families.  That is the database we have displayed o our TNG website.  I thought it would be better/easier to keep the two databases separate — adding individuals from the research database to the online database when they moved to a higher degree of being “proved.”  That just hasn’t worked.  So I have moved to a different place, thinking it best now to have the full database online and working primarily onlne in TNG,  rather than on my desktop in RootsMagic 5.  I really like RM5, but trying to maintain two separate systems is more than I want to do.

So, the first thing I did was to merge the two databases.  I had to do this because I actually had added some data in RM5 to individuals who were listed online in TNG.  Of course, that complicated matters because I had been upgrading many of the source citations in RM5.  As a result, when I merged the two, many of our primary people had double citations.  You may remember that I had created a large number of “free form” citations (for example, citations for all the U.S. Federal Censuses).  The hope was that they would transfer better via GEDCOM.  The data on the TNG website included those free form citations.  More recently I have removed the free form citations in favor of the source templates in RM5.  As I have been re-doing the citations in RM5 over the past 8-9 months I have also been naming the master sources in such a way that similar types of master sources automatically group themselves together.  (For example, the U.S. Census master sources all have the format:  “Census, U.S. – YEAR;” for books, “Book – TITLE;”  “Grave Marker – CEMETERY(or PERSON); etc.  The largest group of master sources is data gleaned from Family Trees on — “Family Tree – INDIVIDUAL.”

In order to clean up the master sources and citations I  first went through each of our direct line individuals and checked their citations so I could eliminate the duplicates.  This was fairly easy to do in RM5 since I had previously color-coded each of your 8 great-grandparental lines – Brenner (red), Weaver (brown), Deeter (green), Gregg (teal), Mieding (blue), Smith (fuchsia), Hill (gray), and Spitzer (maroon).  I could simply go through the Person  index in left side bar and choose each name that was in color, double click it, and then run the mouse cursor over the check-mark in the source column for each fact that had been sourced.  A pop-up box listed the title of each master source used to provide a citation for that person/fact.  I could see immediately if there were any duplicates.  Most of the duplicates were either Census citations, “personal knowledge” citations, or “online trees” citations.  Where duplicate were present, I was able to access the list of sources for that person or fact and delete the duplicates that were presented using the older format.

Because I was dealing with all our direct line ancestors, I was also able to check to make sure that I had included (as a “reference #”) the Ancestral Lines Pairing System number for each of those individuals.  I created a master source for Ancestral Lines Pairing System that reads as follows:

The Ref#s in this database are calculated for direct-line ancestors using the Ancestral Lines Pairing System developed by Capers W. McDonald. The number before the period is the unique ancestral line number; following the period the number indicates the generation (begun from the root person). More information can be found at or by viewing the YouTube video (

By the way, I ran a print-out of all direct line ancestors.  There are 305 of them.  Of course, a large number of them have not yet been “proven.”  I have tried with more recent additions of “un-provens” to make sure that our records indicate such.  I have added a note (very visible in RM5) to each of those records, stating:

I have not yet validated this person’s position in my family tree.  The information was added from’s “Family Tree.” While I have included the submission data from, I have not checked out the particulars data events recorded with this person.  The source citations listed are simply a reflection that the data comes fro an unsourced online family tree.  This is neither a validation of the information nor of this person’s connection to my ancestral lines.  Further work is to be done here.

I intend to change the main screen of our TNG website to reflect that fact that we have published both documented and undocumented individuals and events…   encouraging viewers NOT to copy indiscriminately, lest they repeat unproved (and perhaps “wrong”) data.

I not to go person-by-person through the rest of the database.  Instead, I worked directly with RM5′s Source List.  For sources that had been duplicated (such as the Census sources), I could do a screen printout for the source which listed each individual (and their “facts”) which contained the source.  I could then convert the screen printout to a text file which would open in LibreOffice on my second screen.  (Oh, the pure joy of working with double screens!)  I would use that text file to navigate in RM5 and delete the duplicate citations.  After completing that for each master source duplicate, I would delete the master source itself.  One off the nice features of RM5 is that it would warn me if I missed any.  I probably could have simply begun by deleting the duplicate master source, but I wanted to make sure that I did not inadvertently delete a source that had missed being updated.  There actually were a few of these.

At this point I am fairly well satisfied with our list of Master Sources.  There are some that I simply left the way they were.  Most of these came from John’s work.  Where possible I added a note indicating that they came from John.  When we cull out his line and publish it separately on our TNG website, those source won’t be as crucial for our work.  We can, at that time, also cull out the Van Fossan line which my cousin David provided to me.

One of the areas in which I have been remiss, is indicating the repositories for each of the Master Sources.  I hope to go back and fill in as many of these as I can.  Some are fairly straight forward; others will take a bit of searching.

Before I began working on the sources, I had already cleaned up the Place List, merging a lot of duplicates.  RootsMagic 5′s County Chekc function has been helpful in making sue I am using standardized place names and correcting names in keeping with the time of the event — for example, correcting locations from before 1776 to include “British America” (instead of United States), some with the name of the State, some without.  I will probably continue to enter information into RM5 before transferring into TNG so that a) RM5 will perform its County Check and b) so that I can format citations using RM5′s source templates.

My hope is that, by the time you arrive on the 8th, I have have the database in good enough order that I will have transferred it to TNG




  One Response to “A Report to Russ”

  1. Your are so thorough, Bart. I take my hat off to you.

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