It’s Genealogical Institute Time!

Today I leave for Gen-Fed, which is the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records.  I’m excited!  Gen-Fed is a one week-long program that provides an in-depth look at the materials held by the National Archives that are of interest to genealogists.  There is more material available than military pensions and compiled military service records (CMSR’s) and I’m hoping to learn a lot.  Most summers I attend GRIP (Genealogical Research Institute in Pittsburgh), but this year I was one of the lucky 30 to get into Gen-Fed, so next year I will be at GRIP.

Why attend an institute?  Are you tired of going to conferences for 50 minute sessions, and just as it is getting interesting, it’s over? Genealogy institutes are an opportunity to study a specific topic in-depth.  In a week-long course, you find 15-18 sessions on one topic, and many times the sessions 90 minutes long.  Each course at an institute has a coordinator (whose name you will usually recognize as an expert in the course topic) who plans the sessions (classes) for the week, and teaches some of the classes.  This coordination means the instructors who teach the other classes know the topic they will be teaching and how it fits into the overall week of study.

There are many genealogical institutes, with different course offerings, scattered across the United States.  Many hold registration months before the actual institute, and competition to get into the institute and your desired course may be fierce, with popular classes filling in minutes! A partial list of institutes include:

The best thing about attending an institute?  You’re not the only person crazy about genealogy in the room.  You are one of a few hundred people happy to talk about dead ancestors all week-long.  How cool is that?

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the institutes listed above, and receive no remuneration for mentioning their names.  I am just a happy attendee who is a fan of the one week genealogical institutes.

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My Family View: Ahnentafel Report

The Ahnentafel report in My Family View is a simple ahnentafel report that recounts each of the generations in a persons lineage.  In this system, each person is assigned a unique number, with mails being even numbered and females odd, with the exception of #1 which is the person the report is being generated for.  When their is a gap in the research (an ancestor has not been identified, their number is skipped, leaving room for them to be identified and added to the lineage at a future point in time.

The ahnentafel numbers are frequently used for storing physical files as the numbers are unique and consistent for each person.  Adding additional people to someone’s lineage does not change a person’s number, unless an entire a generation is inserted into the middle of the lineage.


I store my paper research in folders organized by ahnentafel numbers. In the Reports By Task view there are two additional reports that list ahnentafel numbers, although they are not ahnentafel reports (or formatted that way).  They are:

Numerical Ahnentafel List

  • Ahnentafel (alphabetical) id’s for people
  • Ahnentafel (numerical) id’s for people

This compact report is useful when creating file labels or doing other work when you do not want the narrative aspected of an Ahnentafel, simply the numbers!

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My Family View: Detailed Worksheet

The Detailed Worksheet found in My Family View is a the most detailed report about an ancestor available in GenDetective!  This detailed examination looks at each person including parents, marriages, children, a detailed timeline, notes and citations for each event.  While most genealogy programs do not limit the size of notes, due to page/report restrictions, GenDetective only includes the first couple of sentences.

The fields in this report include:

  • Header Section
    1. Birth date and location
    2. Death date and location
    3. Citations – a list of citation numbers assigned to each citation associated with this person
    4. Parents – names and lifespan
    5. Spouses – including spouse birth date, marriage date and location
    6. Children – includes names and lifespan for each child
  • Timeline Section
    1. Date – date of this event, may be estimated or approximate
    2. Event – the type of event
    3. Citations – number of each citation supporting this event
    4. Event Name – descriptive text assigned about the event
    5. Location – location event was recorded at
  • Notes Section
    1. Notes for – the event the note is associated with.  When person is listed, it identifies a note attached to the person, not a specific event.
    2. Note – the first few sentences of the note associated with this event.  This note may not be the complete note, but hopefully includes enough information to jog your memory.
  • Citation Section
    1. Citation id – the number of this citation (used to locate citations associated with an event or person),
    2. Source – the short source name of this source
    3. Citation Text – the details of this citation

Detailed Worksheet

Notes and Citations Sections of Detailed Worksheet

The Detailed Worksheet is one of my favorite reports to use when I am focused on researching a specific person, especially when the basic demographics have already been located.


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My Family View: Research Worksheet

The Research Worksheet found in My Family View is a detailed report similar to a traditional family group worksheet with additional information.  This detailed report while lacking the timeline included in other reports, focuses on the details of his life, grouping the information by research area.  Missing information in this report is highlighted (default color is yellow) immediately drawing your attention to this research opportunity.

The fields in this report include:

  • Father and mother
  • Birth date and location
  • Death statistics
    1. Death date and place
    2. Burial date and place
    3. Probate information
    4. Obituary date and place
    5. Grave-site (located or not)
  • Religious related events
  • Identified and missing census records
  • Military service identified and missing
  • Occupation history
  • Parents
  • Siblings and their spouses
  • Spouses of this person
  • Children for this person and each spouse
  • Event summary – a chart summarizing the types of events and the number of them recorded for this ancestor
  • Location summary – a chart summarizing the number of times this ancestor has been placed at each location

Research Worksheet

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My Family View: Research Progress

The Research Progress worksheet in My Family View begins with the visualization of your research progress, based on your settings in My Personal Research Goals, and combines that visualization with a detailed timeline.  While this worksheet lacks the detailed source/citation information found in either the Source Timeline or the Detailed Worksheet, it conveys a detailed summary of the information you have recorded for this ancestor.

The header section includes:

  • Birth date and location
  • Death date and location
  • Relationship to the home person
  • Research progress in each demographic area that is configured in My Personal Research Goals and applicable to this person.
    1. Vital Statics
    2. Death Statistics
    3. Census Research
    4. Military Research
    5. Occupation
    6. Religious Research
  • Census Records: this section includes a list of each census records located (regular print) and not located, but that GenDetective projects the person may be enumerated in (bold, italic, dark blue).
  • Military Service: this section includes a list of military service records located (regular print) and not located, but that GenDetective projects the person may be enumerated in (bold, italic, dark blue).
  • Parents
  • Spouse(s) with Marriage Date
  • Timeline: this section includes a timeline for each event that includes
    • Age: age of the person at this event (may be approximate)
    • Date: date the event was recorded on
    • Event: the type of the event (birth, census, military service, death ..)
    • Sources: the number of unique source and citations supporting this event
    • Event: the description of this event (3rd column, 1st item)
    • Location: the location the event was recorded at
    • Supporting Documentation: number of multimedia files that support this event

Research Progress

I must admit, this is one of my favorite go-to reports for an ancestor.

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My Family Tree: Document Inventory

The Document Inventory report in My Family View provides you with the unique list of all multimedia files associated with this person.  This report is very useful in several situations which include:

  1. You are conducting an inventory of the resources you have in a file folder for this ancestor.  Use the empty check column to indicate you have the document.
  2. You are scanning documents into your computer and you are verifying that you have associated each document with this ancestor.

This report only has 3 columns:

  • Column 1: empty check box, convenient if you are conducting an inventory the documentation for a person in your file folder
  • Column 2: the title of the multimedia file
  • Column 3: the path and name of the file on your computer

Document Inventory

When I am stumped, facing a brick wall, or when I am creating an application for a lineage society, I like to print all of the documentation associated with the relative.  I use this report as an inventory of the documents I have, and to identify the online documents I have located that should be printed!


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My Family View: Source Timeline

The Source timeline report in My Family View is an enhanced timeline that includes the details of the sources and citations that were used to support each event.  This report provides a detailed view of each event INCLUDING the citations that support each event.  This does mean, that events without a citation will also be evident.  As you study each event, evaluate whether you have used the best source possible, and if there are other sources you might want to consider locating.

This report contains an expanded header that includes your research progress and basic demographics for this person.  The columns in the Source Timeline are:

  • Age: the persons age (may be estimated) at the time this event occurred
  • Date / Event / Note?: in a vertical column under this header is the following information
    1. Date: the date of an event
    2. Event: the type of event will be listed below the date
    3. Note: if there is a note for this event it will be indicated by *** event note *** and will be listed under the event type
  • Event / Location / Supporting Documentation: in a vertical column under this header is the following information

    1. Event: the text description you entered for this event
    2. Location: the place where the event occurred
    3. Supporting Documentation:
      • X multimedia files: the number of multimedia documents associated with this event
      • Source & Citation: a list of each source and citation used to support this event

Source Timeline

I must admit that this is one of my favorite reports as it allows me to “see” everything in a snapshot and to quickly evaluate whether I have used the best sources possible in support of each event!


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