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Best Practice for Recording Census Data

Census Citation Source

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#1 pmayerowitz

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Posted 05 January 2015 - 12:56 PM

I recently purchased RootsMagic7 and would like to insure from the onset that I am entering information correctly to maximize the full potential of RootsMagic7.  As a starting point, I am inputting all of the Census Records I have downloaded from Ancestry.com.  My questions are where and how should I enter this data?

 

What information should I enter as a FACT?  What information do I enter as a SOURCE? 

 

I can create a Master Source for the 1920 Census but where and how should I enter the individual source citation for an individual.  If I enter individual source citations under the 1920 Census Source I could end up with over 100 source citations under the 1920 Census.  Is this the correct thing to do or are there other approaches?

 

I also do not seem to be able to add or edit Source Text or Research notes to the middle and right hand sides of the Citation Manager screen. 

 

Details of the initial source are attached below.  Any help and insights would be appreciated.  Thank you.

 

Footnote: United States of America, Bureau of the Census, Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1920. T625, 2,076 rolls.

(Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA.), Year: 1920 Census Place: New Brunswick Ward 3, Middlesex, New Jersey: Roll T625_1055; Page 7B; Enumeration District 20; Image: 847.

Short Footnote: United States of America, Bureau of the Census, Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1920. T625, 2,076 rolls.
, Year: 1920 Census Place: New Brunswick Ward 3, Middlesex, New Jersey: Roll T625_1055; Page 7B; Enumeration District 20; Image: 847.

Bibliography: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1920. T625, 2,076 rolls.

Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA.

Source Citation: Year: 1920 Census Place: New Brunswick Ward 3, Middlesex, New Jersey: Roll T625_1055; Page 7B; Enumeration District 20; Image: 847

 



#2 zhangrau

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Posted 05 January 2015 - 03:14 PM

This is a BIG question.

First, you need to decide if you would prefer to be a lumper or a splitter of Sources. There are some excellent discussions on the RM6 forum about the advantages and techniques of being an "extreme splitter" (try searching for that term).

 

I'm a lumper. I have a single master source for the 1920 census, and I create a separate citation for each family group. I then paste that citation multiple times to these events (where applicable): Census; Birth; Residence; Occupation; and, Alternate Name. I currently have over 14,000 citations linked to my 1920 census master source. An extreme splitter would have maybe a thousand separate master sources, each used only a small number of times. Is one method superior to the other? Probably, but I started my genealogy database LONG before the notion of "extreme splitter" came my way, and I can't imagine changing at this point. If you are starting a new RM database, you have the luxury of choosing to lump or split.

 

On the other hand, I liked a recent suggestion that I saw that recommended creating a new Fact Type for each census. I used to have all of my census citations linked to the built-in Census Fact Type. I now have a list of census Fact Types that range from "Census 1624" to "Census 1945" and will add others as they come up. The advantage of this approach is that it will be possible to construct a Custom Report that will list, in a table or spreadsheet-like format, a list of which persons are documented in which censuses.  I have a lot of the "Census" items to switch over to my new "Census 0000" Fact Types, so I'm not ready (yet !!) to run this report, but I believe that this report will be very helpful in identifying documentation holes for me to pursue.



#3 Nettie

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 09:17 AM

I created my own 1 source per census year.  It's in the RM 5 Tips & Helps. http://forums.rootsm...er-census-year/   I am a lumper and Since each year census has the same microfilm no, publishing, dates of, owner of, etc  I decided to change the templates.  Was a learning curve for me, but used the help menu [F1] in the software to understand all the if's and and's. 

 

This has worked well for me. Personally I do not want 1,000 sources in my database.  Census records are big and I wanted the information in one RM report per census year. Good Luck...


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#4 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 11:05 AM

As an extreme splitter of sources, I have one Master Source in RM for each census image. An even more extremely split alternative might have been to have one Master Source in RM for each census household, but I went with the census image as the basic unit to correspond to a Master Source. That means that I have to have two Master Sources for a family where a household spans two census images. But on the other hand, I only have one Master Source that is cited for individuals from several different families if the several different families are on the same census page.

 

My footnote sentences are somewhat shorter and simpler than the examples you posted, but I think my footnote sentences are entirely adequate. Here is an example. U.S. Federal Census: Anderson County, Tennessee, 1940, Enumeration Dist. 1-14, Dist. 9, page 243a, viewed at ancestry.com (1940 U.S. Census) on 24 November 2014.  In the event, that I might want to change my census footnote sentences, they are templated with my own source templates, so they would be easy to change globally just by changing the template. For example, I might want to change "U.S. Federal Census" to "U.S. Federal Population Schedule" to distinguish between Population Schedules and Agricultural Schedules and things like that.

 

100% of my extremely split Master Sources have some sort of media file associated with them, usually an image file but sometimes some other kind of file. And the Master Source always includes a transcription of whatever is in the image file. The transcription is in the Master Text: Source Text field of the Master Source. I wonder if I should move all such transcriptions to the Master:Text Source Comments area or not. If so, then I could use the Master Text: Source Text field for additional text that optionally could be printed out with the footnote sentence. If I made such a decision, it would be trivial to move all such data globally with SQLite.

 

Jerry



#5 CherylCh

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 04:55 PM

This is a bunch of big questions.  As you have realized, a census can be both a fact and a source.  I use a separate fact type for each census (CEN1810, CEN1930, etc.)  in which I record, at a minimum, the composition of the household I'm interested in.  And of course, the census itself is the source I cite for that fact.  But there are other facts such as property ownership, occupation, or approximate date of birth for which the census is also a source.

 

As to how to create the source and citations, I think I'm in the middle of the lumper/splitter debate.  I create one source per county per census year.  That works well for me, since most of my people tended to stay put for fairly long stretches.  I name them (and just about everything else) based on the location, so that all my sources related to, say, Mitchell County, NC show up together in the Master Source List.  Page number, household number, etc. go in the citation details field. I have about 1,200 citations to the Mitchell Co, NC 1880 Census, but I strongly prefer that to having 1,200 separate sources  for just that year and county.  What works best for you may very well be quite different.  

 

As to the amount of information to include, Jerry's example is far closer to what I do than your original example.  Unless you are planning to write articles for scholarly journals that require a specific format, ask yourself what you would need to know to find the source again or what information a reader would need to find it.  I don't even include Ancestry's image numbers since I discovered that they are not stable.  

 

I'm not entirely sure I understand what you mean by "I also do not seem to be able to add or edit Source Text or Research notes to the middle and right hand sides of the Citation Manager screen."  You have to add a new source or cite an existing source first.  Once you've done that, the Edit Source screen will allow you to add citation detail and, by clicking the various buttons at the top of the window, edit the fields you are referring to.

 

You might find it helpful to watch some of the RootsMagic Webinars available on this site under "Learn".  As a new user I've found them very helpful.  There's one on Sources and Citations.

 

Cheryl



#6 Romer

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Posted 07 January 2015 - 01:41 AM

Given that Census is one of the built-in fact types within RM, most who began early on with the program probably utilize it.  With the growth of online family trees, ancestry.com in this case, you'll find that saving a census record to your tree there creates a Residence fact.

 

As long as you're consistent, either way is probably fine.  However, I'd be very surprised were it to happen, but should ancestry.com eventually allow syncing from RM database files, you might want to consider using Residence as the fact/event type as you get underway (although SQLite could later be of benefit even if you didn't).



#7 jamiemichal

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 10:18 AM

I'm still trying to visualize how this looks/works.  Would some of you post some screenshots of the Master Source, Citation, Facts, etc so I can see examples of how the data is entered into the fields?

 

This would be a big help...thanks so much!

Jamie



#8 Renee Zamora

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 12:29 PM

Posting images on the forums can be a challenge since it has to be stored on another website and linked to. The Facebook group is really easy for people to post images there. You might want to ask the same question there too.

 

https://www.facebook...cUsers/?fref=nf


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#9 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 01:07 PM

I'm still trying to visualize how this looks/works.  Would some of you post some screenshots of the Master Source, Citation, Facts, etc so I can see examples of how the data is entered into the fields?

 

This would be a big help...thanks so much!

Jamie

 

Here's a link to a screencast of my census data in RM: http://screencast.com/t/K7TIVPQoK  I mention it in the screencast, but do be aware that I'm a source splitter. Most people are not, and if you are not then you would have to adapt my methods a little bit. But this should give you a sense of how you can use RM with census data. The screencast is about 8 minutes long.

 

Jerry



#10 jamiemichal

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 02:17 PM

Thank you Jerry -- I noticed that your narrative report lists the fact types in rows, whereas, when I run the report, all the data is in one continuous line.  Did you customize your report or is there an option/feature I need to enable to display the content differently?



#11 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 02:33 PM

Thank you Jerry -- I noticed that your narrative report lists the fact types in rows, whereas, when I run the report, all the data is in one continuous line.  Did you customize your report or is there an option/feature I need to enable to display the content differently?

 

Two things: I end my fact notes with extra carriage returns to force the next fact to a new line, and I changed all the fact sentence template. For example, here is my template for the death fact: <b>Death:</b>< [Desc]>< [Date:Plain]><[person:Age:plain:commas]>< [PlaceDetails]>< [Place:plain]>.

 

From time to time I consider making one more refinement, namely to remove the extra carriage returns from my fact notes and putting the carriage returns instead at the beginning of all the fact sentence templates. But for the time being, I believe that my current practice gives my a little more flexibility and a little better ability to transfer my data to third party software.

 

RM does have some options to start new facts on new lines, but none of available options are flexible enough to meet my needs. You might look at these options to see if they meet your needs. The options are Keep fact sentences in same paragraph, New paragraph after every fact, and New paragraph after facts with notes.

 

Jerry



#12 Don Newcomb

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 05:25 PM

This gets into the big issue of Master Sources in RootsMagic. The important thing in sourcing is that someone else should be able to find the same information based on your source citation. Everything else is secondary. The sourcing model promoted by RM encourages extreme splitting of sources. I think the default template has it that each county for each census year is a different master source. Once upon a time I calculated that this would create something like 20,000 unique census master sources for the census years between 1850 and 1940. Probably not exact but in the general ballpark. The problem is that Roots Magic's source management system is just a flat table and is not capable of handling this many master sources.  My system is to have one master source for each US census year between 1850 and 1940 (except 1890) and a general catch-all "Census" for state, foreign and other censuses. If I used a lot of UK census records I'd probably have a master source for the major censuses there too. I cite the state, county, city, ward. enumeration district, sheet/page, household, etc in the citation details. I don't make a differentiation between looking at the image online or microfilm or, on rare occasions, reading the actual bound census tracts at the National Archives. I do make a distinction when using abstracted/transcribed records.

 

How you do it is up to you. Just remember that what's important is that someone else should be able to find the same information from your citation. The master source is not important. The citation is. The master source is only important insofar as it creates a clear or unclear citation. 



#13 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 12:03 PM

 

Here's a link to a screencast of my census data in RM: http://screencast.com/t/K7TIVPQoK  I mention it in the screencast, but do be aware that I'm a source splitter. Most people are not, and if you are not then you would have to adapt my methods a little bit. But this should give you a sense of how you can use RM with census data. The screencast is about 8 minutes long.

 

Jerry

 

The number of plays just now exceeded my monthly limit at screencast.com, so I upgraded my account to support more plays.

 

Jerry



#14 Vyger

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 01:18 PM

 

The number of plays just now exceeded my monthly limit at screencast.com, so I upgraded my account to support more plays.

 

Jerry

 

I learn something from every visualisation, thanks for the screencast Jerry. thumbs-up.png

 

Questions on sourcing are certainly plentiful, especially from new users, so I am not surprised your limit was exceeded.


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#15 JohnRF

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 02:06 PM

Jerry,

I also learn something every time one of you regular posters give an example of how you do certain features in Rootsmagic.  I would hope that more people like you guys that post a lot (Tom, Jerry, Laura, Vyger, zhangrau, kbens0n and of course Renee) would post an example of how they do something for us newer genealogists.  I know that for me it is a lot easier to understand.

 

On another note, I hope that Rootsmagic will look at making their reports customizable just like they allow users to do with facts or source templates (copying then modifying the copy).  It seems to me that after reading an awful lot of these forums people want to report out a certain way.  I know that the programmers cannot make everyone happy in this, so just let us do it.

 

Thanks for all the help you guys give out!!

 

John



#16 Laura

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 02:42 PM

Have you checked out the Custom fact report?

Renee has said the reports are being rewritten for the next version of RM.