Friday, June 16, 2017

Run This Genealogy Report To Help Clean Up Your Dates

I've written before about my indispensable Document Tracker (see "Haven't I Seen You Before?"). It's a spreadsheet that shows at a glance which facts or documents I've collected and which I'm missing.

I've also written about Family Tree Analyzer (see Why You Should Be Using the Free "Family Tree Analyzer"). It's a program that does what I was struggling to write a program to do. And it does it so much better than I could have imagined. (Get the latest version.)

Now I'd like to show you how Family Tree Analyzer can quickly produce a document tracker for you.

First, export a standard GEDCOM file from whichever family tree software you're using. Then open that GEDCOM with Family Tree Analyzer.

Click the Individuals tab to view a grid of every single individual in your tree. My tree has 19,341 people at the moment, and there is no delay at all in displaying the information.
The Individuals view in Family Tree Analyzer

Now click Export in the menu across the top and click the first option, Individuals to Excel. The program will ask you to name your file and pick a location for it.
Exporting your Individuals report

The file will be in CSV format. That stands for Comma Separated Values. You can open a CSV file with any spreadsheet software at all—not only Excel.

Now you have a spreadsheet of everyone in your tree and several basic facts about them. You can hide or delete the columns you don't want, and add some that you find more helpful.

Try some creative formatting: Find every cell with the word UNKNOWN and highlight it in yellow. Now you can spot these items quickly.
With all of your people in one file, your imagination is your only limit.

I can scan all the yellow UNKNOWNs and work on filling in approximate birth, marriage and death dates. Entering an approximate birth date, such as Abt. 1900, makes it easier to distinguish people with similar names in your tree.

You can enter an approximate birth year for someone based on what else you know about them.

For example, if you know who a woman's children are, and when the oldest one was born, subtract 25 from the child's birth year to approximate the mother's birth year.

Or, if you have the mother's birth year as 1900 but not her husband's, you can fill in Abt. 1900 for him.

I find this approximation to be very helpful. Be sure to use the standard abbreviations of Abt. for about, Bef. for before, Aft. for after, and Bet. for between, if you're giving a range of years.

See how many ways you can use the Family Tree Analyzer report to fortify your family tree.


  1. Wow! I can't wait to try this!

  2. What about if I use Family Search? They don't support a GEDCOM

    1. This came as a surprise to me, but familysearch suggests using family tree software to create a GEDCOM. There are free programs available to do this. I will reply again with more details.

  3. OK, well, this is disturbing, and I'm glad I don't have my tree on

    "Please remember that your "tree on family search" is not yours. There is only one "tree" in FamilySearch Family Tree, and we all contribute to it and update it.

    "When you create(d) your LDS Ancestry account, it should have automatically transferred your first four generations into your new Ancestry tree. After that, you can use the various FamilySearch functions in Ancestry to copy data from Family Tree to your Ancestry Tree, and from your Ancestry Tree to Family Tree, one person at a time.

    "There are, of course, third-party applications from FamilySearch partners, such as Ancestral Quest, which make it easier to move larger quantities of data back and forth."

    Here's a page that explains "How to download your ancestors from FamilySearch Family Tree into Legacy":

    It makes no sense to me that the people who created the GEDCOM standard won't let you export your tree to a GEDCOM.

  4. The purpose for the Family Tree format on FamilySearch is different from any other genealogy site. It helps to understand that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believe all humans are all literal children of God and therefore all related through Adam and Eve. You can then see why the site only supports one tree. Knowing this, FamilySearch heavily recommends users keep their personal trees on as many sites as possible and also on personal software. They support downloading direct family lines into personal software like RootsMagic which can then allow you to export to a GEDCOM. In the past FamilySearch had PAF which used GEDCOM, but found other programs were updating cleaner, faster, and better. As long as you recognize the difference in purposes between sites, you can take what you need from each and come out of top.

    1. Thank you for the explanation - I appreciate it. It's a different mindset to be working on your family tree for fun vs. religious reasons. I don't like the idea of constraints on one's tree, but, again, you've made it understandable.

  5. Replies
    1. I don't think so. It relies on Microsoft .Net technology to run.

  6. I use FTM. It now syncs with Ancestry and Familysearch. Should I continue to sync with familysearch and allow that info to come into my FTM?

    1. Monta, I think that's a personal choice. I don't use the tree on FamilySearch, but it's my understanding that it's basically one worldwide tree. I'd worry that if you sync both ways, you'd download the whole world into FTM. (I'm sure FamilySearch users will think that's a stupid statement.)


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