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Location: Arizona, United States

My name is Colleen and I find dead people.

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29 April, 2009

Database Overhaul: Day 7

Well, after today my updates will be a bit fewer and farther between as I return to work full-time tomorrow. So I made some good use of my time by returning to my printed family history narrative and checking my data and sources. This is not only tedious, but confusing at times!

You'll recall that early on after purchasing RM4, I changed my mind about manually entering all of my information and imported my data from Family Tree Maker. Then, after I purchased and set up a new printer unit, I printed out a narrative from RootsMagic4, starting with myself and working backwards in the report. In this printout, everything I had entered into FTM printed out, which told me all the information transferred, since I was printing from RM4.

Today, as I was working on source citations for my grandparents and great-grandparents, I noticed something very odd as I was updating resources for my grandfather, Joseph McHugh: Though the notes printed out in the narrative generated from RM4, I could not find the same notes in the actual database! I looked and looked, and couldn't find them. So I looked for notes on my other paternal great-grandfather, Edward HODICK and his were in the database and on the printed narrative. So I went back to my great-grandfather Dennis Joseph McHUGH and his wife, Mary GRIFFIN. The notes were there! And it dawned on me: I was looking for my dad's paternal grandparents' notes under my grandfather's screen. I navigated to my GREAT-grandparents and found what I was looking for. This wouldn't have happened if I hadn't strayed from the task of updating my grandfather's sources by doing an search for my great-grandfather of the same line. Shame on me for making such a beginner mistake.

However, as I slowwwwwwly make progress with citing sources, I have another question: Is there a way to delete a recurring source from all entries? When I imported the data from FTM, RM4 automatically added the imported GEDCOM as a source and cited that GEDCOM as a source for all data. Well, I did not cite sources too well in FTM (I actually have a LOT more than I thought I did, but they are listed under individuals' Notes in FTM, not as a separate entry) and I do not want that GEDCOM listed as a source. I know I can delete the source from each individual, but can I do an overall delete of that citation?

28 April, 2009

Database Overhaul: Day 6

Today's overhaul post poses a question for my fellow genealogy buffs. RootsMagic 4 has several places for entering sources. When you double-click on a person's name, you are brought to the "Edit Person" screen. For ease in formulating my question, I will refer to this screen as the person's "General" screen. The white field on the left lists the person's name at the top, then the facts as you choose to include them, such as birth, confirmation, marriage, death, etc. To the right of these facts are columns for Notes, Sources and Media that are checked off when data is entered about these facts. This way you can see at a glance if you have any sources for this person. If you double-click on the check in, say, the Media column, it shows you the items you have attached to this person. When the person's name is highlighted (defaulted when you first open this screen), then the five buttons in the blue section relate to General information about that person; you can add Notes; Sources; Media; Address; and To-Do tasks.

If you highlight a fact, however, the five buttons change to four and allow you to add Notes, Sources, Media and To-Do tasks, all of which relate to that highlighted fact. I will refer to this screen as the "Event Specific" screen. Now, logic would say to enter birth notes, media, sources and to-do tasks under the birth fact, enter marriage data under the marriage fact, etc.

My question is, would there be any harm in foregoing the specificity in this and just entering all the data under the "General" screen? I had noticed that I had entered sources and media and a note for my Grandmother HODICK under her "General" screen and the information is still recorded in the fact columns for which the data was entered (i.e., I have her obituary listed as a source, and even though this source is listed under the "General" screen, it is still accounted for in the check off columns for death source. In other words, event specific sources, notes, and media are still indicated for each fact even if the information was not entered in the fact specific field but in the general field. So what's the disadvantage to just entering notes, sources, and media under the general field and not worry about being more specific?

Also, RootsMagic4 users, how about some ideas on entering source information? I could also use advice on how to enter source information in the "Edit Source" field: I want to be consistent in how I idenitify the master source, repository, etc. I did get a response to this on FB that I will be re-visiting but wanted to pose it here as well.

22 April, 2009

Database Overhaul: Day 5

As you can see, I've taken some time to update the appearance of this blog a little bit. I added a new header that {ahem} I made all by myself. Okay, so it's not perfect but it's MINE.

I also widened the background and the text area, thanks to Blogger Guide. I'm still working on widening the profile container to match the rest of the blog; as you can see it's a bit off-kilter at the moment.

If you're a blogger user, and not an expert on html/formatting, I highly recommend visiting Blogger Guide ( The instructions on widening my text area were written for the newer Layout format, and this blog is in the old "Template" format of Blogger. However the instructions were the same and it was very easy to follow.

As for the database overhaul, well, I took a break from that as I was bound and determined to put a new header on this thing. Opinions wanted: Should I add a third column to the right and split up the "busy-ness" of the left sidebar? Or do you prefer the wider text field that I currently have?

21 April, 2009

Database Overhaul: Day 4

Today I took a little break from adding sources and creating to-do lists and added digital media to some of my lines, starting with my generation. I completed adding at least one photo for my parents and my dad's parents and his siblings. I added photos to the Hodick family members for which I had photos and knew the figures in them.

I then opened a Family Group Sheet for each of these three generations (my immediately family, my dad's immediate family, and his mother's immediate family). I like the way it looks with photos inserted!
It's going to take me forever to finish my overhaul, and I'm hoping to keep this blog abreast of my progress.

Tomorrow it's back to sourcing and to-do lists!

20 April, 2009

Database Overhaul: Day 3

Today I started creating To-Do lists with RootsMagic4. I started by identifying the need for my nearest deceased ancestor, my mother, who died in Tempe, Az in 1988. I first did a search of the Internet to determine where to request her death certificate, as I'm keeping with the traditional method of genealogical research by starting recent and moving backwards.

Once I obtained the location to which I need to send my request, I added the task to RootsMagic4: All's well and good, no? Well, no. For a few reasons. First, I entered the information in the wrong menu option for "To-Do" list. What I did was highlight the person I was seeking in the Family View screen and navigated to "Lists" on the top tool bar. I then chose "To Do" and entered necessary information into the appropriate fields and clicked "OK". Done. Except I wasn't.

See, I didn't have a way to identify for whom this task was assigned. Simple solution: Open the Task and enter mom's name in the "Reference Number" field, since I am not using reference numbers (if anyone has input on whether I *should* use reference numbers and if so, how do I do that, please "Comment" below). Done. Except I wasn't.

Because when I double-clicked on my mother's name in the Family View screen to see her data sheet, I noticed in the bottom-right-hand corner, where the buttons are for sources and files, a button for "ToDo". Clicking on that, I expected to see the tasks I'd entered (obtain death and birth certificates). But I didn't. Perhaps this would have been resolved had I used reference numbers? Will have to research that. In the meantime, since I am oh-so-impatient, I simply re-entered the information here.

What I found odd is that if I enter a task under the top tool bar "Lists", the task does not show in the person's "ToDo" screen when I click on that button on the personal data screen. But if I enter the information on the person's data screen, then later go to the top toolbar option "Lists>ToDo", the tasks I had entered in the person's screen DO appear. {whew}. Now the question remains: Once I enter in a series of "ToDo" tasks for different individuals (on their worksheet screens), will I be able to print a single report of all tasks I have entered for all individuals? I'm betting I can.

And I can. I suppose I need to add obtaining her marriage certificate to the mix, since I'm sure my dad does not have this. I'm almost sure many of our family documents (including birth certificates for us kids [I had to order a copy of my own], marriage certificate, and goodness knows what else) "got lost" during my dad's second marriage, though it seems odd since his second wife's mother was into genealogy (by hand). Course, his second wife hated her mother's obsession with it.

Another obstacle to obtaining records is going to be states' rules on requesting them. I should be able to get my mother's death certificate here in Arizona without a problem. However, New York State, where she was born, requires that the certificate be on file for at least 75 years and that I be able to prove she's deceased (this one is not a problem). I could, as my mother's child, request a certified copy of her birth certificate, but that would require me to obtain a court order from the State of New York. Might be easier to wait four years for the genealogy copy!

I will need my dad's help to obtain copies of his parents' death certificates from New York State, as he is entitled to it as their child, but I am not as their grandchild. I should be able to get his grandparents' death certificates on my own, since they died over 50 years ago.

So far I am liking RootsMagic. It certainly is quicker to load and navigate through than my FTM. I wish I wasn't as impatient and actually read instructions more! But, on the same token, I tend to remember more by doing it, so the time lost by re-doing something is often worth it. Assuming, of course, I catch my mistakes right away, and not 4 years after starting the project!

19 April, 2009

Database Overhaul: Day 2

The road to database conversion hell is paved with good intentions. Since I still cannot get my printer to work and thus don't have a tangible list from which to manually enter in information into RootsMagic4, I decided to import my FTM gedcom into RM4. I was simply too afraid I'd forget to enter notes or other information not seen on the immediate screen in FTM. But I am working my way up from myself, adding media files and sources. I am done with my generation with the exception of gathering dates for cousins' births and such. I am done with my parents' and my father's parents.

Tonight or tomorrow I will make my to-do list on the parent and grandparent lines and finish my mother's parents. I'm glad I only have 720 or so names in my database! This is what happens when you just jump in without doing your research first, as I did when I started this in 2005.

Today I will leave with a close-up image of my grandfather Joseph McHugh's Certificate of Participation in the Manhattan District project of the production of the A-Bomb. It's a certificate that validified my father's story about grandpa's work with the Army Corps. of Engineers. I always thought he was embellishing again ;).

18 April, 2009

Database Overhaul Day 1

Well, I made some good ground today. I had already added information manually to RootsMagic4 on myself, my parents, my four grandparents and two of my great-grandparents. Once I decided to purchase the product, I also decided to add information and media files on individuals as I enter them into the database. I think I'm done with my paternal grandparents' information. My next step is to make a to-do list for them before entering their siblings.

In doing this, I had found some scanned images on my hard drive that were sent to me via email from my cousin's wife, Christine. I haven't looked through my folders in quite a while, and I'm afraid to say I'd forgotten I'd had some of these. The upshot to this is that I feel like I'd made some new finds! Here is a collection of the images added to my grandparents, Joseph and Mary (Hodick) McHUGH.

Database Overhaul

I just ordered RootsMagic 4. I downloaded the free trial about a week ago and decided that it's time to switch from FTM, which has been good for most of my research, but the version I currently have is such a monster I'm hoping to cut down on loading and navigating time. FTM 2008 takes at least 2 full minutes to load sometimes, and never less than a full minute. The need for instant gratification can be a burden. But I also like the source formats in RM4.

I've been debating for quite some time about revisiting all my data and the incorporation of a new software program is a good chance to do just that. I am currently off work for 2 to 3 weeks. I'm going to use as much time as possible to manually add data into the new program. I can start loading it into the trial version until the CD arrives (I prefer CD to download); RM will incorporate the information in the trial version into the installed version later.

I'm entering information manually instead of importing the gedcom for several reasons: One, I'm hoping it will jump start my research. Two, it will give me a chance to first, identify the pathetically few sources I have and second, to make a to-do list for each entry to rectify the lack of sources. I just find it less mentally overwhelming to do it this way and I suspect it will help me focus my attention on the person I'm entering instead of seeing a database full of names I have to support. Three, I think it's time I start gathering information from cousins and relatives about my ancestors that I may not have known so well. Perhaps my paternal Kovaleski/Kinney cousin connections on Facebook will help with that!

At any rate, start bookmarking this site again; it will be the central location to track my progress and perhaps help others get a perspective on a database overhaul. I will be using Randy Seaver's tutorial on RootsMagic4 found HERE to help me with this endeavor. I was also hoping to use a resource brought to my attention by Dick Eastman called GedXlate, which is a free program that extrapolates information from a GEDCOM and formats the data in various document formats including an excel spreadheet. I'm not sure if this will help or not, but will experiment with sorting and other excel features to see if it will make it easier to use in navigating between the data in my gedcom and the blank database I'll be adding to in RM. It may not work however, given the notes I've entered into FTM for individuals do not appear on the spreadsheet. We'll see.

Keep your eyes tuned in as I embark on what seems an enormous task. Makes me kind of glad I've only gotten back to the mid 1800's in my family tree!

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