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.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

People Aren't Buried in Alphabetical Order

Like so many genealogical sources, cemeteries contain information inherent in their structure. People are not buried in alphabetical order. They are usually buried with, or near, family members. Creating a list of burials in alphabetical order is easy in TMG. Creating a list in chronological order by date of death is easy. Neither of these reports captures the information inherent in a cemetery's pattern of burials, however - and that's information essential in analyzing family structure. Remember! You can't get information out of TMG, if you don't enter it in the first place.

In my opinion, TMG's greatest reporting strength is the ability to create Excel reports. If you want to examine information for patterns, create a spreadsheet report and play with the data sort order. You will be amazed by what you see. A report designed to show burial patterns should be sent to Excel, or another spreadsheet program, and all those reports in TMG are found in the List of ... reports. The two most obvious choices would be a List of People report listing people buried in a given cemetery or a List of Events report listing burial events in a given cemetery. Both reports allow burial information in output columns. Now, all you need to do is determine how to input a cemetery's burial pattern.
  • Large cemeteries are usually divided into some combination of sections, lots and grave numbers. This information is easily obtained from the cemetery office, or it may be found in online databases like Find A Grave. Including this information in a burial event field in TMG allows you to create a list of burials ordered by section, lot, and grave numbers. It's very easy to see who is buried next to whom.
In the illustrated report, burials are listed first by section, then by lot, then by grave number. Note that Section 2 follows Section 17. This problem could be avoided if the numerical information were entered as Section 017, Section 002, etc., but I haven't worried about that. People buried in the same section are listed together, and people in the same lot are listed together. I treat these section numbers as if they were street addresses, inputting them in the Addressee field in the burial event tag. The name of the cemetery is placed in the Detail field.
  • Small cemeteries seldom have easily found lots and grave numbers. You can create burial associations yourself in several ways. Here are a few ideas.
  1. Assign one person's name to a burial grouping and number all the graves in that group; e.g. Laird01, Laird02, ParkerOW01, ParkerOW02.
  2. Assign a letter to a row and number all the markers in that row; e.g. A001, A002, etc.
  3. If photographing a cemetery, walk the cemetery in a stated order and use the digital photograph number as the burial order indicator; e.g. 006735, 006736, etc. (This allows the easy creation of a cemetery photograph catalogue, also.)
  4. Draw a burial plat of the cemetery, numbering each grave. Use these numbers for the burial order indicator.
Because these burial indicators are "unofficial" indicators, I don't put them in the Addressee field. Instead, I put mine in the event Memo area. I use Memo1, but that's a holdover from the TMG days before split memos existed. You can assign any Memo area you choose, but be consistent. As you can see from the burial list, my report is designed to accommodate large or small cemeteries. It's sorted first by the Addressee field and then by Memo1, the location I use for my own burial grouping numbers.

Burial tag: Screenshot
This screenshot shows a burial tag. This burial is in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, one of the largest cemeteries in North America. Note the section, lot, and grave numbers in the Addressee field. These should always be entered from largest unit to smallest. The name as entered on the tombstone appears in the drop-down box. I enter the transcription of the stone in the Memo field in the Memo2 area.

Remember that in TMG, there is no one right way to do anything. If it works for you, it's the right way. Here are some principles to keep in mind.

  • If you're trying to identify patterns, a List of ... report usually works best.
  • If you want to use the information in a report, you must input it first.
  • Always be consistent in how and where you enter your information.

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