Wednesday, June 6, 2012

FTM2012 - Research Notes Options

Genea-Blogger Randy Seaver, of has a series of Blog Posts on the importance of Research Notes. I would encourage you to read each of his Blog Posts on this topic.

 Samples of Essential Reports for Genealogists

Creating Research Notes in RootsMagic 5 - Post 1

Creating Research Notes in RootsMagic 5 - Post 2

Do the Research Notes Transfer via GEDCOM to Family Tree Maker 2012?

Do the Research Notes Transfer via GEDCOM to Legacy Family Tree 7.5?

I found is observations very interesting. Having spent quite a bit of time dealing with the exchange of information between Genealogy Software packages, using the GEDCOM option, including the three Randy has shared,

I had made a quick blog post, earlier, but was not in a position to provide details:

Research Notes

I now want to see how I have done or am doing in the area of Research Notes, within Family Tree Maker 2012 already, as I really haven't focused on this topic, but I have been using the features, just hadn't been doing it consistently or "on purpose". More or less by accident to track what I  have or haven't done.

The first thing I did was to look at the Help file, within FTM2012. This is from the Help menu Index for Research Notes Report.

Looking at that, confirmed that we have many options, based on what level we want to keep Research Notes for. There is a place for Citation Notes, Person Notes, Fact Notes, and Research Notes for a Person.

The Person Notes, are normally where I keep and enter the "stories" of people, as I find them. Part of my Clean Up of my file, is to restoring the field for that purpose, as these Note features have not been around for that long, nor have we had the ability to Print Notes Reports.

In the People Workspace, Person View, the Person Notes are in the Left Column, near the bottom of that Panel, it's the First ICON, and the "stories" or Notes are typed into that area of the screen. (NOTE: these Notes can be marked as Private).

Also, each FACT has the ability to have notes. There are blog entries on how I have used this.

For this specific Example, I have recorded the History of the 11th Kansas Cavalry. The "story" of this Civil War unit is in the Notes section. Above the notes are the Events of this Unit in the Civil War, with Dates and Places where the battles were fought. That data will be displayed in a Timeline Report.

Researching this unit, I found some battle specific information, which I put in the FACT Notes on the Right. If I want more details about that battle, they are right there. In this specific case (the example), that data was found on page of the Citation. Having played around with the Output, that is where I thought these notes would be helpful. It more Battle Related and NOT Unit Specific. The Unit Specific notes ARE in the Notes for the unit. For me, it's two different pieces of information.

I am still searching information on this Civil War Unit, so I have entered some Research Notes for the "person" (person, in this example, is Unit).

This is the 2nd ICON, under Person Notes. (between the Person Notes, and the Private NOTEs on/off ICON).

It notes what I HAVE found, and two more places, at this point, where I want to Research. I had looked at before, but want to go back and look, and I haven't looked at Wikipedia yet. If I think of other places to research, I can put those Notes here. Looking at what I have and haven't done, I don't document normally what I have found and where, as I can see that based on the Facts and the Citation for those facts. BUT, I put conflicting information notes here. Open Conflicting information are in the Task List for that person (the 3rd Tab on this page). So, research notes would contain how conflicting information was solved.

Citation Notes are in the Source Workspace for the Citation.

I have lots of Citation Notes, or better said, there are not many Citations that don't have notes. This is more for me, and it helps be "remember" more about the Source and the Citation that is displayed in the Citation Details, and Citation Text.

Now, what about the Output. How is this information presented in a report?

The Publish Workspace, Person Collection is where the Notes Reports are. Now, I am taking my lead on this from Randy presenting the Research for his PERSON. That is what I am doing as well.

Bringing up that Report, here are the Options: Person Notes: Fact Notes: Research Notes:

They can be displayed in one report, but for this Blog, I'll present each separately. This is the Person Notes, or the stories. This is also available elsewhere.

The about is the basic summary for this unit and the report is 6 pages in length.

This next report is the FACT Notes, where the Military Fact Notes are presented. In this case, it's information about the Battle and not Unit Specific. Remembering the the Unit's participation in the Battle is in the above (or Person Notes) part of the report.

The Research that I have to do, or conflict resolution notes would be shown here.

Although Private Notes are available, this "person" did not have any private notes (yet) and the entire report, to date, is 11 pages.

NOTE: Randy made a number of Valid comments about Family Tree Maker: 1) Timeline does not allow for Citations, and 2) the Research Notes in Roots Magic 5 are in Chronological Order, where FTM2012 are not.

I attended a class which brought up the Chronological Order of Citations was important. I also looked at the Roots Magic Research Notes that Randy discussed but didn't have that great of an impact on me, as it might have on a very experienced researcher or a Professional Researchers.

The Research Report that I generated from within FTM2012 helped me.

Copyright © 2012 by H R Worthington


  1. I've been wondering about all these different types of notes myself, and how to best use each type. For example: I've transcribed judicial records from the 17th century. One fragment is about the sale of property of one family to another. Both families are in my database. I would like to include the transcribed text in a note, so it will be available with the people involved. How would you go about this?

    I am thinking about using citation notes so I only need to include the transcription once and add the citation to all the people mentioned in the deed. But I think the citation notes are very hidden, is there a quick way to see from the person's information that there are citation notes, without having to open each citation? I like how you can see fact notes by just checking the corresponding column, but haven't found how I can quickly spot any citation notes. Any thoughts are very welcome!

    1. Yvette,

      How do you normally use Citation Notes?

      For me, it's additional information about the Source and Citation that is backing up the Facts that have been recorded from that Citation. For me, the Citation Notes are for me as back up.

      For your example, you might consider putting that transcribed information into the principal person's Notes. Have a Citation to document where you found that information, use that Citation for all of the Facts that you pull those facts from.

      Now, the output: All of the Facts would have the appropriate Citation (in EndNotes) and when printing Family Group Sheets, or Genealogy Reports that include Person Notes, that transcribed information would appear in that persons notes.

      It took me a while to figure out how I would use what Randy's blog posts suggested (Research Notes). I looked at my Input Options AND Output Options, I looked at what I had been doing, as that was for my own purposes, but now can see how I can use it better in the future. But, check input and output, before you make a change into what you have been doing.

      Citation Notes are in the Sources Workspace, Center Panel, and are one of the three Tabs near the bottom of that panel.


  2. Being a new FTM user, I haven't got a way I use the citation notes yet. I've thought about using the person note, but that would mean copying the same transcription into several, sometimes dozens of people's person notes. If I later find an error in the transcription, I have to find all the occurrences to fix the error. I'd rather have the transcribed record in one place and using the citation notes is the one option I can think of.
    Another solution would be if FTM would allow me to add one fact to multiple people (as you can for spouses). To me that would be ideal. For example, I would create a "sale" event with the transcription in the fact notes and then add the sale event to all the buyers and Sellers, with their roles in the description field. But as far as I know, that's not possible. Perhaps I should put it on my 2013 wishlist!

    1. Yvette,

      Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, you may not want to copy and paste the same information multiple places.

      Can you let me know of an example of a transcription that you would put in multiple places.

      Again, How are you planning on using Citation Notes? Again, I use them for myself only.

      FACTS are normally Individual Facts, that is, for one person.

      Family Tree Maker does not have a "role" type of event.

      How are you using this "Sale" Event for your family history?


  3. I'm planning on using the citation notes for personal use only, to contain a copy of the information I used. For example, if I create a citation of a Find a Grave memorial, I'll copy the text of the page into the citation note. That way I can always check back what information was there when I used the source. I do not like the Page Archive function as that still references resources on the original site that may not exist anymore when I need to recheck the information.

    My real transcriptions are all in Dutch so they would not be very useful.

    A translation of an actual transcription:

    13 december 1653
    Herman Stoffels and his wife Hilleken ten Borninckhave, Jan Carstkens Pleckpoel as husband and guardian of Martina Stoffels, Herman Stoffels and Jan Carstkens also on behalf of Hendersken Stoffels, their sister and sister-in-law, Berndt Eckerfelt and Derck Claessen as chosen and accepted guardians of Maria Janssen, widow of the late Berndt Stoffels and their children Grietken and Johan Stoffels, as heirs of the late Mechtelt Lammerts, widows of Stoffer Stoffelsen who declared for themselves, their wards
    and heirs, that they have sold for a well paid sum of money for ever and irrevocably, to Margaretha Schmidts, widow of the late Herman Nachtegall and her heirs, their house as it is situated between the aforementioned buyer, Johan Corts and the late Jan an Basten's houses with all its old rights etc.

    (BTW, this Hendersken Stoffels was the mistress of the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn. Her brother Harmen, the first person in this document, is an ancestor of mine)

    Since I'm working on a population reconstruction of the entire region, all 19 people mentioned in this transcription are in my database. I do not want to copy the transcription 19 times but I do want to be able to access it from all 19 people. And I don't have just the one document, I've got 50 years worth of transcribed records of this town and 50 years more in digital photographs still waiting to be transcribed.

    In reality, the text will be in an old form of the Dutch language that is not easy to read for a modern reader even if it's transcribed. Unlike English, the Dutch language has changed a lot since the 17th century. It's not quite as bad as reading Anglo-Saxon for a current English speaker but it's worse than Shakespeare.

    In fact notes, I typically want to enter readable text that is fit to go into a report for general reading.

    Based on your own advice elsewhere on this blog, I'm first thinking about a strategy on what I want my data to look like, so I haven't got a sale event yet. Maybe a 'property' event would be more appropriate, listing the fact that somebody owned property in a specific place at a specific moment in time. In this example, ideally I would like to create a property event that is shared between the children and grandchildren that are mentioned as heirs of the mother, because they are the joint owners in this sale.


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