Monday, July 25, 2011

How to identify Civil War Family Members

As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, How can we identify who might have served in the Civil War? Perhaps we know some of them, but maybe not all of them.

Here is how to Filter your file down to identify those people.

The first screen is in the People Workspace, Family View, with the Index in the Left Hand Panel. In this file, I have 8,252 people. At the Bottom of that screen is the FILTER feature.

Clicking on Filter, will bring up a window where we will start to Filter people who meet our parameters. The first thing we need to do, is to click on Include All. This will move those 8,252 people from the Left Window to the Right Window. This is like Selecting ALL or everyone.

Notice the same number is in both sides of the window. Now we want to Filter OUT certain groups of people. In this case, we will Filter Out all Females. So, select Sex from the list of Facts, then Equals, and select Female and click OK.

We have a new number (4,343) (see below). Our next Filter will be to Filter OUT everyone who was born BEFORE 1818, in this example. Selecting the Birth Fact, "is before", and entering 1818. (you can use any date you wish).

Again, we have a new number (3,101) (see below). Next, Filter OUT everyone who was born AFTER 1846. Again select the Birth Fact, "is after", and enter 1846.

Down to 2,491. Will Filter OUT anyone who Died Before 1861. Selecting the Death Fact, "is before" 1861 will do this.

Reduced to 2,338. Now to Filter OUT anyone without a Birth Date. Birth Fact, "is blank".

This reduced the 8,252 people in my file to 2,304.

To remove the Filter, remove the Check Mark, on the Filter Line, and that will restore your file to everyone.

Copyright © 2011 by H R Worthington
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  1. I'm using FTM 2011. Filtering out "Birth" "Date" "Is Blank" per your instructions does not filter out people with blank birth dates, but using "Birth" "Any Data" "Does not exist" does. Why?

  2. Terry,

    Don't know the answer to your question. I this case, I went from 2,338 to 2,304.

    I will try what you did to see if my numbers change.

    How did you determine that it didn't work, in your file, like it did in mine?


  3. Nice job explaining filters Russ. I find them easy to use myself having been a Systems Engineer BG (before genealogy).

  4. Rosemary,

    Thank you.

    Please see my follow up post on this issue. Found an interesting set of results based on what Terry brought up.

    I do appreciate your comments.


  5. Yes, I repeated your exact steps. I've since been following your testing, repeating in my file, and note the following:

    - when filtering out birth and death dates using "before" and "after", it makes sense that blank dates will remain, since there's nothing to compare the filtering dates with.
    - when filtering out blank birth dates using "Any Data" "does not exist" in my file, the filtering screen still shows blank dates when the field has non-date data! In other words, in every case in my file, the people showing blank dates in the filtering screen actually have birth places typed in in error - seen by hovering over each person.

    Side note: To me, this is another case of FTM working logically, but causing users to get 'tricked up' until they understand the logic. If the users react too quickly (i.e, before they understand the logic), they tend to post that FTM is bad. But is FTM really bad (in this case) just because the date field in the filtering screen doesn't display wrong data? For me, once I saw what was happening, I can now use the filtered data to correct the erroneous birth place data in the birth date field, and then decide if it's worth suggesting that FTM software be modified to show an error message in the filtering screen (I'm not going to, because my errors caused the problem, and we don't need more code!).

  6. Terry,

    Again, thank you for bringing this up. I have posted two follow up messages.

    Yes, if the Date is Blank, but there is a Place Name, you still have to Filter OUT the Place field..

    The update yesterday, got my list down to under 200.

    As to what Family Tree Maker should do, in the case, I would suggest that you use the Help Menu, Online Help Center, and provide detailed information on this as part of the Feedback that has a link on that page. I have.

    Thank you,


  7. Well, I should have started 'correcting' the 'place names in date field' per my previous comment before sending the comment. My theory was wrong - the date field in all cases is actually blank. I misread the 'hover' info shown.

    So I tried a more basic test related to blank birth dates, which I will submit as indicating a problem:

    Total individuals in my file: 4295

    Test 1: Start with no one included; filter in "Birth Date is non-blank" and get: 3484 (i.e., 811 are left out as blank)

    Test 2: Start by including all 4295 individuals; filter out "Birth Date is blank" and get: 4262 (33 are filtered out as blank)

    Test 3: Start by including all 4295 individuals; filter out "Birth Date is not blank" and get: 783 (3512 filtered out as non-blank)

    Seems to be something wrong with the logic - I can't see a pattern in the individuals with a blank birth date.

  8. Terry,

    Did you see my most recent post?

    The trick here, is that the "is blank" is not processed if the Fact isn't being used.



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