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.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Creating a "Census Candidates" Search List I

"I want a list of people in my database for whom I have no 1850 census record." That seems like a pretty simple project, right?

  • The name itself tells us what TMG report we probably want: a List of People report.
  • We don't want a list of all the people in the database. We want a filtered list of people.What people belong in this report? The subjects of this report must meet two criteria.
    1. They must have been living on 1 June 1850, the official census date.
    2. The database must be missing 1850 census information for those people.
Let's take a look at the first part of the filter. Here's what I use for this part. It's simple, but it still merits some discussion.
  • The first line is: Birth Group... | Date | <= Does not come after | [?]. First, note the [?] in the field value space. This tells TMG to ask me what value should be there before it runs the filter. This allows one to save a filter and run it over and over again with different values.
  • The Birth Group field includes such tags as Birth and Baptism. Any person who has a birth or baptism date that comes on or before the date I enter, will stick to the filter. Anyone who was born after the selected date will fall out of the filter.
  • I use the official census date for this birth/baptism value (1 June 1850 for this census). That's the date census takers were told to use when they asked about the family composition. I know it will come as a shock to many of you, but not everyone answered the census taker correctly.☺ Still, I find this a good starting point when querying my database. You may choose another date, or you may choose to use Year for the subfield, rather than Date.
  • If the little box that precedes this line is checked, TMG will use only the primary birth group value for its filter.
  • The second line is very similar: Death Group... | Date | > Comes after | [?]. If a person was living on the official census date, they were supposed to be reported as part of the family, even if they died the next day. If a person has a death date that comes after the selected date, they will stick to the filter. If not, they will fall out of the filter.
  • TMG uses a subset of Boolean logic. Boolean logic includes three operators: AND, OR, and NOT. TMG allows only the first two operators. The AND operator requires that a person meet all criteria to stick to the filter. In this filter, someone who was born 18 August 1812 (matches the first filter line), but died 6 May 1849 (fails the second filter line), would fall through the filter and would not be included in the report.
My non-genealogy husband asked a critical question. "What happens if you're missing a birth date or a death date?" Good question. One can construct an additional filter to catch some of those people, but is it necessary? In my database, my list of people missing census tags with this filter is long enough that I'm not ready to go searching for extra people - yet. We will get to that filter, but let's examine the second criterion, no 1850 census tag, first.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Returning to Reports

Many years ago, when TMG was just a baby genealogy program, our Maryland TMG Users Group decided that if you really wanted to understand TMG, you had to become proficient with its powerful reports. Of course, this is almost a chicken and egg situation. Becoming proficient with TMG reports requires knowledgeable data entry practices and vice versa. The Tri-Valley TMG Users Group frequently returns to report writing, and that's where most of the members' questions have focused for the past few months. Studying TMG reports is not as easy as it seems. We all have different research problems and different ways to approach and solve those problems. Research methodology classes require teachers who can generalize from the specifics - and students who can apply these generalizations to their specific problems. Becoming proficient with TMG reports requires that same process. Let's see if we can generalize some TMG reports specifics.

Like many genealogy programs, TMG offers a long list of report types; in TMG's case, this list includes ten different "List of..." reports and twenty other report types. "Which report should I choose? There's so many options!"
Rather than make a choice based on this long list, select a report based on your purpose for that report. For me, TMG reports fall into five classes.
  • Publication reports. As far as my research is concerned, these are the TMG Journal reports. I'm not interested in using any other reports for publication purposes.
  • Charts. If I want a chart, I usually opt for the graphic and beautiful Box Charts, the Family Group Sheet, or the Pedigree Chart.
  • Research analysis reports. These are the report types I choose most often, and they are usually one of the List of... reports. I usually export these to Excel, so I can filter, sort, and query with them.
  • Research preparation reports. Are you good at preparing for your research trips, whether real or virtual ones? If so, you probably already have a good selection of reports you routinely use in these preparations. For me, the most frequently used reports for research prep are the List of Tasks, the List of People, and the Family Group Sheet reports. I also write an accompanying research plan, but that's a Word report, not a TMG report. I do have a special Individual Narrative report that details all research and proof arguments for a given individual that is often included in this research preparation.
  • Database cleanup reports. Most of our users like filtering TMG's Project Explorer for these reports. This way, you can simply progress down the Project Explorer, editing the relevant individuals as you go. Is this the way you like to work? If so, you should become very familiar with the List of People report. Those are the reports that allow one to filter the Project Explorer.
That leaves a lot of unused report types! A few of these I never use, for example, the Statistical report and the Project Information report. I do run the Audit report occasionally, maybe once a year. I almost never run Ahnentafel reports, Compressed Pedigree reports, or Distribution of People reports, and Kinship reports and Relationship charts are for-fun-only reports, from my point of view. Of course, my point of view isn't necessarily yours, and that's what makes writing how-to articles about TMG a little difficult. But let's try, shall we?

The most frequent report request I receive is this. "I want to make a list of people for whom I don't have 1850 census information, so I can go through the database and update those records. How do I create that list?" Let's investigate the process in the next post (or two).