Update: Family Tree Analyzer is now available for Mac.
How would you like a tool that shows you exactly which census forms you haven't found for each person in your family tree?
Sound like a time-saver? You'd better believe it is. Let's take a look at the Census Report tool in the free software program, Family Tree Analyzer (FTA). (See their website for the free download and their Facebook page for support.)
This is a simple process of (1) open file, (2) run report, (3) work with your results.
Before You Start
|An approximate birth year and country of |
birth will give you the best results.
Learn from my experience and get better results:
- Enter an estimated birth date for everyone in your tree. When you don't know someone's date, make them about 25 years older than the oldest child you've found for them. There's a big difference when searching for someone born in 1850 vs. 1900.
- Enter a country of birth and death whenever possible. Say you've researched several generations of a family and they stayed in one area. If someone's children never emigrated, assume the person was born and died in that country. Add a note that this is not verified.
Now the FTA Census Report will be much smarter and you'll need to do very little editing of your Census Report.
Open Your Data File
Once you install FTA, all you need is your tree's latest GEDCOM file (see the definition). Check your software's File menu for an Export option. If your tree is on Ancestry.com, but not on desktop software, go to your Tree Settings online. Find the green Export tree button. Some websites believe in one shared tree. That means you don't have full control of your tree, and you cannot download a GEDCOM. The control freak in me can't imagine going that route.
Launch FTA and open your GEDCOM file.
Run the Census Report
To run a report showing which census records you're missing:
|Make 2 selections and click "Show Missing from Census" to run the report.|
- Click the Census tab at the top.
- Check the boxes for the Relationship Types you'd like to include in your report:
- Direct Ancestors
- Blood Relations
- Related by Marriage
- Married to Blood or Direct
- Choose a census report from the Census Date menu. You'll find:
- UK Censuses from 1841–1911
- the UK National Register of 1939
- Ireland Censuses for 1901 and 1911
- US Federal Censuses from 1790–1940
- Canadian Censuses from 1851–1921
- Scottish Valuation Rolls from 1865–1925
- Click the button labelled Show Missing from Census. Your report will open in a new window.
|Your report is ready to export to Excel. Notice the status line at the bottom of the report. You can double-click an entry from this report view to go to FamilySearch and find the census you're missing.|
FTA is smart. It knows if someone in your tree was alive and living in the right country for a particular census. By default, it doesn't search for anyone over the age of 90, but you can change that.
Now that you have the report, click the Excel icon at the top of the report window. Save the file to your computer in the default CSV (Comma-Separated Values) format. Now go back to step 1 and repeat the process for each census year you need.
Analyze Your Results
Now it's time to work with the data. I found a small number of people who didn't belong in this report. So before you start working through people one line at a time, let's check a few things.
To work with your report more easily, hide the spreadsheet columns you don't need right now. To hide a column, click the letter at the top of the column, like G. This will select the whole column. Then right-click the selected column and choose Hide from the menu.
The most important columns to keep visible are:
- CensusName (a married woman's maiden name is in parentheses)
The first people I'll look for have a birth location and death location in another country. I see only a couple of people who match this description. The first one is a familiar name: Domenico Sarracino. I know he never came to America, so I can remove him from this report.
Next I want to remove everyone with an unknown birth and death date. I know that in my family tree, these are most likely relatives of relatives. I might know nothing beyond their names. They shouldn't be my focus, so I'll remove them from my spreadsheet.
Finally, I'll sort the entire spreadsheet by the CensusName column. Now I can scroll through the names and remove duplicates. I found about 15 people who appeared to be duplicates with the same name and birth date.
One more step. For each name in the spreadsheet, I'll check their entry in my family tree. I quickly spot some more who I know never came to America.
The reason FTA doesn't know they never left Italy is that my birth and death dates don't always say they were born or died in Italy. I didn't want to make that assumption, but now I think I'd better. When it's a safe assumption, I'll put in the country and add a note that this is not confirmed.
More lines deleted.
Now I have a list of 120 people who need me to find them in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. That may sound like a lot of people, but my family tree has almost 20,000 people. It's about 0.6% of my total tree. That sounds manageable. And finding those missing census forms will make my tree that much more valuable.
I'm ready to begin searching for those census sheets. I'll whittle down my list as I go, keeping track of my progress. Then it's on to the census reports for 1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940.
Go Fill in the Blanks
Now you're ready to make targeted searches for those missing census sheets. Family Tree Analyzer is a must-have if you want to make your family tree your legacy.
Want a cheap thrill? When you're done, create a new GEDCOM and run the report again. Look at your results!