My Vital Documents

The GenDetective 2  the My Vital Documents report can replace your document tracking spreadsheets.  It identifies, for each person, the key vital documents that we genealogists search high and low for.  If you have located information in an index instead of the actual document, that is also conveyed.

No vital documents identified as being found!

No vital documents identified as being located!

The first time you run the My Vital Documents report it will most likely be blank!  What happened?  Nothing, and you may agree you got a list of names with blanks, so nothing 🙂  We need to first identify our sources and the types of information they convey in order to go from “empty” to “filled-in”.

Genealogy source citations are text, and GenDetective has no ability to interpret the meaning of the words in the source.  In addition, a picture is just a picture, and with no way to attach value to a specific picture GenDetective is unable to divine that one of the 15 documents associated with a person is the birth certificate, and another the death certificate. The upside is, that you can classify your sources so GenDetective can determine which documents you have and which you don’t.

To identify your sources, go to Configuration,  Identify Vital Records Sources.  The following screen will appear, filled in with your master list of sources.

Classify each source in your tree

Classify each source in your tree

You may notice that my sources have a prefix:

Birth Cert: Birth Index: Book:
Census: Church: CM: (cemetery marker)
Death Cert: Death Index: Immi: (immigration)
Land: News: Prob:
Taxes: War:

Unfortunately, these prefixes are not added by GenDetective. I have gone back through my source master list and added them.  First, because it was easier to classify my sources and second because I was defining the same source more than once, especially with newspapers. Using these prefixes allows me to quickly identify if I have used the source before or not, and if not define the master source.  However, if you would need to do this in your family tree software (FTM, RootsMagic, etc), not in GenDetective.

Go through your list of sources and identify which ones are associated with:

  • Birth Certificate (or registration)
  • Birth Index (I classify baptismal indexes, books & certificates as an index)
  • Death Certificate (or registration)
  • Death Index (I include cemetery transcripts and obituaries here)
  • Marriage Certificate (or license)
  • Marriage Index
  • Probate (I include any probate dockets)
  • Marker (cemetery markers)
  • Assets (I include taxes as well as assets)
  • N/A (not any of the “special” sources)

When you press the Save Changes button GenDetective will take a minute to update the changes to your system.  GenDetective will remember your selections even when you import a new GEDCOM file, so you will not need to repeat this process each time you import a new file, however, you may want to scan the list of sources to identify any new sources.

My Vital Documents after classifying my sources!

My Vital Documents after classifying my sources!

Whew, what a relief, the same set of great grandparents show my located documents after classifying my sources!  For a visual walk through of this process check out our GenDetective video “I Can Replace My Tracking Spreadsheets!” for $3.95 available at the GenDetective website .

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One Response to My Vital Documents

  1. Pingback: My Vital Documents Report | GenDetective

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