After two years spent studying Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained, our group needed a break. We decided that there is no better way to discover all that The Master Genealogist (TMG) can do than to explore its powerful custom report writer. If you would like to participate in the Tri-Valley TMG User Group's adventures as we examine the best ways to input data to make full use of TMG's wide range of reporting possibilities, please feel free to comment and share your ideas.

The Tri-Valley TMG User Group is associated with the Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society (L-AGS), and we meet in Pleasanton, California. Information on our meetings - location, date, time, and topic - is always available on the home page of the L-AGS web site. Our three-hour meetings are actually hands-on workshops in which up to fifteen computers are connected to a digital projector allowing customized personal assistance to attendees. In the past, the group has systematically studied Lee Hoffman's Getting the Most out of The Master Genealogist, Terry Reigel's A Primer for The Master Genealogist, and Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained.

For further details on the reports we create, please visit our website. The section dealing with TMG reports begins at the page, "Exploring TMG's Report Menu."

Start following our new blog, "The Continuing Adventures of the TV-TMG User Group." This will detail our 2014 project.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gravestone Inscriptions, or Thoughts about Memos

Do you, or do you not, transcribe gravestone inscriptions?  For most people, data analysis doesn't begin with a photograph; it begins with the physical act of copying a record.  Transcribing a record nudges the conscious mind into awareness of anomalies, contradictions, and missing information.  It also helps us remember possible connections.  In other words, thoughtful researchers transcribe records.  As wonderful as TMG is, it still can't search digital images for information.  To get the most out of our cemetery data, we transcribe gravestone inscriptions and attach those transcriptions, as well as any digital images, to our burial event tag.  Now, where should you enter this transcription in TMG?

Where you enter your data is determined by how you plan to use it.

  • You want your transcription to appear in a footnote or endnote.  If so, there are two options.  Enter the transcription as the first, or only, entry in the event memo; or enter it in the citation memo (CM).  Make sure that your source citation template is defined to print the CM, of course.
    • The first option will print the gravestone transcription in its own note, preceding the source citation note.
    • The second option will print the gravestone transcription as part of the source citation note.
  • You want your transcription to appear in the body of your narrative.  If so, enter the transcription in the event memo field.  You're free to use any memo segment, MEMO1-MEMO9.  Just define your burial sentence appropriately and BE CONSISTENT!
  • You decide you don't want your transcription printed in any narrative report or family group sheet, but you want to preserve your options.
    • Don't enter the transcription in the citation memo.  This opens the door to lack of consistency in defining your source citations and its printing options are the most limited.
    • Don't enter the transcription in the event memo as MEMO1.  It's simpler to reserve that for footnote material when a sentence is not defined. 
    • Enter it in MEMO2 or higher, reserving that memo part in the burial tag for gravestone transcriptions only.  List reports can be defined to print it, and if you ever change your mind, you can define a new language using this memo part in the burial tag sentence.
Would you like to see these memo rules in action?  I've provided a page of examples on our TV-TMG web pages.

Any other ideas?  Feel free to comment.  The more, the merrier!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Cemetery Report -- with Pictures!

TMG allows the user to add exhibits - photographs, text documents, OLE objects, etc. - in a wide variety of locations.  What you add and where you add it depends upon how you want to use the exhibit.  Are you like me?  Do you love walking through cemeteries photographing tombstones, whether they belong to your family or not?  Do you have thousands of digital tombstone photographs scattered on your hard drive?  They're just waiting for you to figure out what to do with them, aren't they?
  • Photographs can be linked in TMG to: People, to Events, to Citations, to Sources, to Repositories, and to Places.
  • Linked photographs will appear in reports only if they are linked to  People, to Events, to Citations, or to Sources.
  • Therefore, if you want tombstone pictures to appear in a report, do not link them to Repositories or Places.  Of course, you can link them to more than one person and more than one entity.
Not every report type allows the user to print exhibits (photographs).  To help me figure out what report types allow what options, I created this simple chart (PDF file). This chart shows that:
  • The Descendant Indented Narrative, the Individual Narrative, and the Journal reports are the only reports that provide all photograph options.
  • The Ahnentafel report prints photographs linked to People and Events.  This report is limited in the people it includes, so I seldom use it.
  • The Family Group Sheet and Individual Detail reports print only the Primary Person exhibit.  Therefore, unless you link your tombstone photograph to a person and make it the primary image, these two reports won't serve the purpose.
It looks like our cemetery report with tombstone photographs must be one of the three narrative-style reports.  Practice with each one to see what works best for your purposes.  Examples and instructions can be found on our instruction pages, specifically "Cemetery Reports: Including Tombstone Photographs."

Here are some ideas, comments and questions that came up in our discussion.
  • How do you enter a tombstone transcription?  Or is a transcription even necessary?
  • What about a tombstone that memorializes more than one person?  How should that be handled?
  • How do you create a report that shows who is buried next to whom?
  • My only cemetery records came from Find-A-Grave.  How should I report them?
Before these questions are discussed more fully, it would be a good idea to practice with a few cemetery reports on your own.  You may come up with some of the answers on your own.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Introducing Our New Blog

  • There is one crucial thing to remember when considering a custom TMG report.  If the information is not in your TMG database, then it won't appear in a report.  The report you want may determine the manner in which you enter your information.
How do you enter burial information?  The first idea that came up was the creation of a cemetery person.  As far as I know, Diana Begeman was the first TMG user to come up with the idea of creating an artificial person to make it easier to see people related simply by association with that artificial person.  She created a "Census Person" and linked people enumerated in a census to the corresponding census person.  I think this was a truly brilliant idea.  Although I didn't have a need for a census person, I did start playing with other artificial people.  One of them was a cemetery person.  Here is the screenshot showing the cemetery person, "Leroy Cemetery."

  • Pros: It's very helpful to see all the people buried in a cemetery listed together, and seeing them on the detail screen is very convenient.  The people are listed in burial date order (or sort date order when no official burial date could be found).  TMG's accent feature is turned on, and red background indicates descendants of Reuben Case (1766-1847).  This is also a nice touch.
  • Cons: Do you really need to see your cemetery listings in burial order?  Wouldn't it be more useful to see who was buried next to whom?  Does this method of data entry give you something you couldn't get from a report?
TMG allows almost infinite customization.  Do you like the idea of a cemetery person?  Will it help you visualize a solution to a problem?  Try it, and see what you think.  I did, but decided it really didn't add anything I couldn't get from a TMG report.  The next comment to come up: "I want pictures in my cemetery reports."  Tune in to the next blog post for ideas on cemetery reports that include tombstone pictures.