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, December 29, 2013

It's Only a Hypothesis - Part One

I love data entry parties! Someone always has a problem that provides a new opportunity to make TMG dance - or at least make us think a little. Here's the first of the questions asked at our data entry party.
  • I know that Subject A is my 3x-great-grandfather. Given the location and all evidence found to date, his grandfather must be Subject C, but I don't have any direct evidence that states that Subject B is his father. What do I do? How do I enter this in TMG?
Although we search for names, dates, and places in our research, what we're really trying to prove is identity and relationship. Everything else is simply accumulated evidence to help us reach a conclusion as to those two aspects. Unfortunately, no matter how flexible the genealogy software might be, there is always a subtle push to force that conclusion before we're ready. We need to use our software to track our in-progress research, but if we're not careful, our software might turn those nebulous, in-progress hypotheses into solid conclusions. TMG offers many ways to clarify the difference between our hypotheses and our conclusions. You can pick and choose among established ideas - or create your own.
  • Although the various -Can[didate] relationship tags (Father-Can, Mother-Can, Daughter-Can, Son-Can, Parent-Can, Child-Can) are custom tags, they were created so long ago and were so quickly adopted by everyone that they feel like standard tags. If you have settled on a probable parent or child relationship, but still lack direct evidence, consider linking people via one of these tags.
  • Do you want to create a Parent-Child link between two people, but you don't want to create any reports that show that hypothetical link? Consider using the appropriate -Can tags, but do not mark the parents as primary parents. You will see the connection in your database, but reports won't show it.
  • You want to create a hypothetical Parent-Child link between two people and you want to see all the proven and hypothetical sibling connections, as well. You will need to mark the parents as primary parents and you will need to come up with a marker that appears in all reports you publish. This isn't as easy as it sounds. Pedigree charts do not show the relationship tag label and family group sheets only show the label for the subject's and his or her spouse's parents. GEDCOM reports don't differentiate the -Can relationships at all.
    • Since this practice is okay in database use, but not so great in reporting, one possible solution is only publish Journal reports. Send your Journal reports to a word processor and make hypothetical connections emphatically obvious. Don't be surprised to find that others reading your reports ignore the hypothetical nature of these connections, though, and reproduce the report with that emphasis removed.
    • Mark all candidate relationships in some way that appears in all reports.
      • One of the options in both pedigree charts and family group sheets is the inclusion of the Reference field, in parentheses, next to a name. This works for those reports. The Reference field can also be exported in a GEDCOM file. Enter something like Candidate or Hypothetical in this field and all your hypothetical connections will be marked.
      • TMG contains several name parts that are seldom used. Create a Name style that is reserved for at least one of the members of these hypothetical relationships and use one of these name parts as a marker that is always printed.
      • Nothing is perfect, and you should never forget that those reading your charts are very good at ignoring even the most obvious attempt to show doubt.

Individual Detail screen for Chloe (Cooper) Wakefield

Individual Detail screen for Chloe (Cooper) Wakefield

  • Many times, my problem is not necessarily the parent-child link. In the illustrated example, I know that Sherman and Mary (Powers) Cooper had a daughter named Chloe. I am not certain, however, that this daughter is the same Chloe who married Amos Wakefield. This is an identity problem. Until I can write a well-documented proof argument of an identity, I maintain two separate persons linked by a custom Identity tag. I merge the two persons, with the proof argument, when I'm reasonably happy with it.
Identity tag in use
Identity tag in use
  • Whenever doubt exists in a TMG entry, you must include a source-cited statement that explains why you have entered the information in TMG or have made a hypothetical conclusion.
Brief proof statement documenting hypothetical parent-child relationship
Brief proof statement explaining hypothetical relationship
Continue with "It's Only a Hypothesis - Part Two (A)"

1 comment:

  1. Susan, this is a great topic. Thank you for the post!