Friday, June 22, 2012

How to document a Relationship?

Warning: This is a work in progress.

 A question that I see on the various Family Tree Maker message boards, is How do I document a relationship?

We have Facts that we record, with each Fact we Cite where we received that information from. Some of these documents reflect relationships. Within FTM2012 we have a nice Relationship view, in the People Workspace, Person View, and the Relationship Tab.

 This is a nice chart and clearly shows us the Relationships, and the types of relationships between Parents and Children, and "Husband and Wife" (I will not address the issues surrounding those two terms).

Nice chart and pretty clear. BUT, how did we get there. Of course the answer is within FTM2012.

The issue is, how did WE get to the relationship "conclusion" or how do we record that.

In a project I worked on, I used the Name Fact to record what the various sources told me about this person, and other people.

For example:

1850 Census shows Head of Household - James Howard (53);  and Cath Howard (39); Julia Howard (50); Margaret Howard (20); Nancy Howard (16); Wm Howard (13); James H Howard (11); Harry C Howard (8); David R Howard (6); Mary Brannon (17); Ann M Getzandamer (49): Augustus Getzandamer (6); Rebecca Coarley (25); Roletta Carter (35);1880 Census shows David R Howard as Brother of William R Howard (head of household)

1860 Census shows Head of Household - James Howard (63);  and Chas R Howard (38); John E Howard (34); Nannie H Howard (26); Wm R Howard (23); J M H Howard (21); Harry C Howard (18); David R Howard (16); Margt Fitzgerald (26); Ann Carroll (27)

1870 Census shows Head of Household - William Howard (33);  and Ann H Howard (36); Henry Howard (29); David Howard (27); John E Howard (42); James M Howard (31); Annie Carlin (40); Joshua William (39)

1880 Census Shows Relationships with Head of Household - William R Howard (43); Elizabeth W Howard (41), Wife; William R Howard (7m, Son); Charles R Howard (4); Ann H Howard (46), Sister; Harry C Howard (38), Brother; David R Howard (38) Brother; Sophia Johnson (55), Servant; Laura Thomspon (35), Servant; Jennie Francis (17) Servant

1900 Census Shows Relationships with Head of Household - William H Howard (66); William R Howard (63), Brother; Elizabeth M Howard (60), Sister-in-Law; Charles R Howard (24), Nephew; William R Howard (20), Nephew; Harry C Howard (58), Brother; David R Howard (56), Brother; Harriet Bolton (46), Servant; James Mch Howard (61), Brother

1920 Census Shows Relationships with Head of Household - Henry C Howard [Hardy C Howard] (77); David R Howard (75), Brother; Rosa C Howard (50), Cousin
Maryland Births and Christenings, 1650-1995 shows  David Ridgely to his parents, James Howard and Catherine _____.
You get the point. I put these notes in the Preferred Fact.

This worked pretty well. But I started this before we were provided the ability to Print Notes, including Fact Notes.

During my clean up of this file (this file started in Version 3.4), using FTM2012 for clean up, I have many more options, so how best to do them, and address this relationship documentation issue.

How about using Fact Notes?

The advantage now is, that the Citation is one tab away, on the selected Fact Display (right hand panel in the Person View.

Remembering when Census Records really spelled out relationships, besides being "in the household" I decided to record the make up of the household, in the Residence Fact Notes page.

OK, that works for me. Again, the Citation is two tabs to the right, and IF I want to see the Census Record, it is in the Media Tab. This works for me.

There are other records the show relationships, so I put them into the Fact Notes. I have been moving (Copy/Paste) old information from the Person Notes field, into the more appropriate Fact Notes field.

This has a bonus feature. For example, I don't want Social Security information "out there" so I can mark that FACT as Private, so no one can see that fact nor its details, but I can see them.

Keeping with the Census Record, comparing two census years for a household, that is the selection of a different Residence (fact) Year. It's visual, but it has worked for me.

As I try to point out, "but what does the output look like?". Hier is the Publish Workspace, Pction Collection, Notes Report options.

Lots of options. Private Notes, Person Notes, Fact Notes, Relationship Notes, etc.

Now, why didn't I choose the "Relationship Notes". That IS and option. I tried it, but I liked the ability to enter or check the Fact Notes, be able to see the Citation, AND the ability to view the Media File (Census record for this example). The Relationship Notes were "too busy" for me.

In an earlier blog post, I mentioned the Research Notes, that can be seen above.

There is one more advantage, that I learned earlier, is the Notes tent can be seen in the People Workspace, Family View, for the selected Person.


So, I can SEE all of the notes for that person in the Family View.

This is still a work in progress, but it's the direction that I am going.


Copyright © 2012 by H R Worthington


  1. What and where are the "Relationship Notes?" I looked for something tonight in FTM 2012 for Parents or Relationship and didn't see anything obvious. If I select "Show Relationship notes" what shows up in the Notes Report? Are they notes for specific Facts? If so, which specific Facts?

    Thanks -- Randy

    1. Randy,

      I just posted the answer to your question. Thanks for asking.


  2. Russ,

    I think I see what you're doing, but we have two choices that I'm not so crazy about. Either you put the info in the Name fact or your put notes in the Realationship fact. Here's why I'm not crazy about either.

    Name sources are by default showing where you got the name from. Great for collecting variations in the name and wonderful for getting the "full" name. You can add notes and attach source documentation and images/files. While traditional direct evidence (birth certificates, baptismal registers) show name and parentage, indirect evidence doesn't. Suppose you are arguing that an unnamed child referenced in a probate file is the child whose baptism record showed no father. The probate shows no support for name so it really isn't a name citation.

    Relationship notes are good for holding arguments, but now how do you cite the probate record. You can put in the EE citation, but can't attach the record. The best you can do is to say "go look at the probate fact".

    Essentially, it becomes possible to capture the information, but walking back through a gps argument for kinship is tough. Also, since parentage information involves 3 people (or more for multiples), it would be real nice if the same information was attached to all parties, like marriage information is. You would have to find a way to get all this information into all the various individuals. A change in one would necessitate copying it to all.

    Does that help?

    1. Dave,

      I can only suggest that you submit an Enhancement Request or Feedback to the Developers. You can find that in the Help Menu, Online Help Center. There is a link for the Feedback.



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