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.