Friday, August 2, 2019

Social Security Death Index - Warning

As some of you know, I work off of Ancestry RECORD Hints, and find this works very well for me. I then will use the Web Merge feature of Family Tree Maker to get that data from the website, into my database. The REASON I do this is so that my database contains the exact information from that Record. Misspelling and all. When the Data is in my database, then I evaluate the information presented and mark the appropriate Fact as Preferred. Keep in mind, that I have already evaluated the Hint BEFORE I do the Web Merge, to make sure it is my person. This 2nd evaluation is to match this new information against the other information I already have.

Now, the reason for this blog post is to bring to your attention a problem that I have seen in a number of Records, but I will focus on ONE Record Group, the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) from Ancestry.

The issue: The Death Fact information.

I have seen this problem during the Web Merge of an SSDI Record, many times and have reported this as a Bug to Family Tree Maker. But, I wanted to see why the Web Merge was acting the way it was. The Root Cause of the problem (yes, I'll tell you in a minute), is the way that Ancestry handles this Record.

Here is a Hint, in my Ancestry Member Tree (AMT), for an Individual, for a SSDI Record:

This is a Quick Compare, in the AMT, with My information on the Right and the Record information on the Left. I only have the Year of the persons Death. The Record, in this Hint, had the Month and Date (all good) of the Death BUT is has a Death Location.

If I were to just accept that Hint, the Death Location would be Added to that Death Fact.

Here is the Issue:

If you Look at the RECORD, the Record has the Month and Year but NO Death Location. In this example, there is a Last Residence Fact, which is good, it includes the city, county, state, and Zip code. All good. BUT there is NO Death Location on that Record.

What information does the SSDI contain?

The SSDI contains the following information fields:ty number
Given Name
Date of Death
Date of Birth
Last Known Residence
Location of Last Benefit
Date and Place of Issuance
Note: the Date of Birth, nor the Date of Death items do NOT include the Location / Place. And, in the Web Merge, online or in Family Tree Maker, the Birth PLACE is not included. Only the Death Place (example in a minute)

My understand of the Last Know Residence and the Location of Last Benefit, is the last place someone lived, according to Social Security and where the Last Benefit was sent. Neither of them are noting the Place of Death.

In the Web Merge, in Family Tree Maker, as it the AMT Save Hint we see:

I will NOT accept that Place Name for the Death Fact, I must manually delete the Death Fact PLACE for an SSDI.

I caught this issue a while ago, but chose now to blog about it, when the SSDI claimed that my Grandfather Died in New Jersey. He did not, but the Last Benefit was sent to New Jersey.

My mothers SSDI claimed her last residence correctly, but the Last Benefit was sent to the same Place Name, but a different Zip Code. In this specific case, and the  reason why I enter those other Fact Names into my database, (deleting the Place of Death) is that it gave me a clue as to why my mother's estate did not include any Social Security benefits. It must have been sent to the Long Term Care facility, as part of their Contact. It IS useful information.

It is my opinion, that this is a BUG for to resolve as well as Family Tree Maker to resolve.

IF the RECORD does NOT Contain the Place of Death, it should NOT be included in the AMT Merge, nor the Family Tree Maker Web Merge Feature.

Copyright © 2019 by Cousin Russ

Friday, April 5, 2019

User Question: Duplicate Sources

Response to a User Question:

Here is the question:

I want to create a custom report that would show me if I have duplicates of a specific source attached to individuals (i.e. I want a list of all individuals who have duplicate 1900 United States Federal Census)
What is a Duplicate Source?

The quick answer is the Sources Usage Report, in the Publish Workspace.

 How do you know that you have a person has a "duplicate" 1900 United States Federal Census?

I can only guess that YOU entered these duplicate Census Records can Created a Source (Source Group) in Family Tree Maker.

Copyright © 2019 by Cousin Russ

Monday, February 18, 2019

User Question: Blurry Media and Google+ Going away

Here is a question from a reader of this blog:
I tried attaching a media file but it came out blurry under my individual media tab. Image is clear. Is image supposed to be in two different locations since I want to be able to see image when off-line and not logged in to Ancestry?
I am new to FTM 2017 and have found your blog to be most useful. Since Google + is shutting down April 2, 2019, which blog do you recommend me joining.
The answer to your media file being blurry depends on how you obtained that image. Most of the pictures that I have are clear, some, not so much. The not so much items are ones that were handed down to me in various formats. Every time you OPEN a JPG file, and save it, it will become more compressed or blutty.

I ALWAYS keep my scanned images or digital images in their original folder on my computer. AND when I use that media file, I ALWAYS use the COPY option, when adding that image to my file.

Google+ is going away. So what. That has nothing to do with this Blog.

Now, I had a Google+ Genealogy community on Google+ and it IS going away. BUT I was able to capture all of the content from that community and created another blog with all of the content already there.



Copyright © 2019 by Cousin Russ

Monday, February 11, 2019

User Question: Multiple / Duplicate Birth, Marriage, Death Facts

A question from a Blog Reader:
Thank you for your Knowledge Base series. They are a great resource.

Sometimes one or more B/M/D facts have two dates and, no matter how hard 
you research the problem, you just can not figure out which is correct.

I had the problem with a birth date and kept the two Birth fact entries. 
FTM's error checking routines did not like this and kept flagging the 
two Birth entries as an error.

So, what to do? It finally hit me, the solution to duplicate facts is to 
eliminate the duplication. I kept the original Birth fact and added a 
second "Birth - ALT" fact to hold the alternate fact. The same could be 
done by creating "Death - ALT" and "Marriage - ALT" facts.

If I ever manage to resolve the conflict, all I have to do is put the 
correct date and citation(s) in "Birth" and delete "Birth - ALT."

If needed you can create a custom Report to keep track of these 
additional facts by filtering in "xxx - ALT" as "Is Not Blank."

Thought this might give you an idea for one of your video demos.
First, I am sure I have done more than one video on this topic and a number of written blog posts as well.

But, I'll try to answer your questions here.

 In this example. there are six (6) Birth Facts and three (3) Death Facts. You will note that the 3rd item down, birth fact, has 24 Citations. You might say, well that MUST be it. 

Same with the Death Fact. The 3rd from the bottom, on the right, has 24 Citations. BUT, in evaluating the Citations, I have made the determination as to which Birth and Death Fact is PREFERRED. 

Usually, the preferred fact will be the most complete set of information.

You did NOT tell me what error messages Family Tree Maker was providing. A HINT, however, IF the error you are talking about is from the Data Error Report, try selecting Preferred ONLY.

I submit to you that these are NOT Duplicate Facts !!!!! They are ALT Facts. To be "duplicate" facts ALL of the Fields in that Fact MUST be Exact. Alt Facts are see above, where a couple of Citations will give the Year only. (BMD Facts I ALWAYS use Abt. YYYY). There are a couple facts that had the full date, but not Place Name.

Bottom line: (for me)

I record what I see on the Record and Cite the source. So, when it comes time to Evaluate my data, to make that Preferred Fact determination, I can do that very quickly.

My preferred facts change all of the time, until I get what my "current thinking" is about that Fact or event.

Copyright © 2019 by Cousin Russ

Monday, February 4, 2019

User Question: How do I batch delete unused Place Names ?

Here is the Question
I am in the midst of a major tree cleanup, moving large amounts of people into other files or deleting them. I am also doing general cleanup of the database. I am finding a lot of place names that no longer have anyone linked to them. I am assuming that the people originally attached to these places are no longer in the database. Is there a method of searching for "orphan" place names and doing a batch delete?
Quick Answer: You Can't BULK Delete Place Names without a Fact linked to that place.

My suggestion is to put the Place Names in the FLAT View, then use your down arrow on your keyboard and look in the Right Hand Panel.

I suggest that, rather than using a report, base you can Delete the Unused Place name tight here.

Yes, there is manual clean up work after you do clean up.

Also, BACK UP BEFORE you do any of this, then do a Compact and Back Up when you are done. You don't have to do that ALL at the same time. I suggest making a note as to the Letter of the alphabet that you have completed, so you can pick up where you left off.

Copyright © 2019 by Cousin Russ

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Knowledge Base - General Program Articles (update)

There are a number of articles of general nature that will be posted here:

Copyright © 2019 by Cousin Russ

Friday, January 18, 2019

Knowledge Base - FTM2017 for the Mac (update)

Here are some specific Mac Knowledge Base articles:

Copyright © 2019 by Cousin Russ

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Knowledge Base - General Program Articles (update)

There are a number of articles of general nature that will be posted here:

Copyright © 2019 by Cousin Russ

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Knowledge Base - FTM2017 for the Mac (update)

Here are some specific Mac Knowledge Base articles:

Copyright © 2019 by Cousin Russ

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Knowledge Base - General Program Articles (update)

There are a number of articles of general nature that will be posted here:

Copyright © 2019 by Cousin Russ

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Genealogy Do-Over - MGP, EE, GPS (what's he talking about ?)

I have blogged about the Genealogy Do-Over a number of times. It is a project started a couple of years ago by Thomas MacEntee. The concept was and IS a great one. For me, starting over, was not something I was willing to do. However, Going OVER what I already have made total sense to me.

Think about it. I didn't know what I was doing when I started. My daughter gave me Family Tree Maker when I started, because she thought I needed something to do. Little did she know. Oh, and little did I know.

In person classes, Genealogy in-person meetings, Hangouts On Air, Podcasts, Webinars are places to learn how to do this stuff. Its amazing how much "stuff" you can learn, listening and learning from and with others. Not to mention new features in Family Tree Maker.

The three terms in the Subject are part of the Do-Over / Go-Over for me.

With FTM2010, the Source Template feature was introduced to the program that was based on Elizabeth Shown Mill's book, Evidence Explained. It is our standard for how to craft citations. The other two items are also standards for our family research.

When the Genealogy Do-Over concept was introduced, I jumped on the bandwagon, but in my own way. I have blogged about that before on this blog, under the Label of GenealogyDoOver.

My goal has been to update my database to meet or attempt to meet the standards of these three items. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been, again, working on getting my 4,500 Citations into Source Templates. It's a slow process, time consuming, but worthwhile.

Remembering that the Genealogy Do-Over / Go-Over was to look at what we have now, and apply what we / I have learned since I started. Focusing on the Citations, makes me do that. I need to re-look at the Information / Claims / Facts that are in the Source of information (like a book or Source) find, where in that book the information is (Citation), Select the appropriate Source Template that best describes What I am looking at, and Where did I get it from. Honestly answering those two questions will get me to the correct Source Template.It define the Container of Information. The Citation Detail (field in Family Tree Maker) helps complete the citation.

Source = Container of Information
Citation = Where in the Container did I find and for who

I am mentioning all of this because I can across information in my database that I had entered a long time ago, but had forgotten about, because I wasn't using a Research Log or To Do List both of which I absolutely use in FTM2017.

I found this problem while cleaning up my Citations and have created a way to track the clean up and have a plan to manage this clean up.

Today, I was working "the plan", found a note that I need to Locate a source. It was from a reference in a Family Group Sheet that I have been working on from a Cousin. That series of Family Group Sheets (FGS) are the basis of my entire database. Been working on them for 20 years. This note, only referred to a database title, Thanks to Google, I found that record in the UK and it was online. (tip of the Iceberg, right?)

The next one was even better. This "locate source" was linked to my maternal Grandmother. This time, I really didn't have a Source Title to Search, so I looked to see if Ancestry had a Hint for her, that I haven't looked at for a while.

There is was, but it was even better then just giving me the ability to cite that source CORRECTLY but it was a page in a 1910 Yearbook, in the town in Pennsylvania where she lived.

West Chester State Normal School, Pathfinder,  (1910), Record for Rachel P Johnston, 1910 Staff; Online Image, Ancestry ( : accessed 13 January 2019).

Yes, we know that Ancestry has a good Yearbook collection, but she had Graduated from High School in 1906, Her collage was in Massachusetts, where she graduated from, but this Yearbook was from 1910 and in Pennsylvania. Huh? It documented that she was on the Staff at West Chester Normal School, now West Chester University, in 1910. I knew that was the name of the school at the time, but her address was also at the Normal School in the 1910 Census. With this Source, with the information in this entry, I crafted my Citation and linked it to the Facts is that short paragraph.

Which led me to the 1912 Yearbook, where she was a coach. I do not think she it in this picture, but she is listed as Coach.

West Chester State Normal School, Pathfinder,  (1912), Record for Rachel P Johnston, 1912 Basketball Coash; Online Image, Ancestry ( : accessed 13 January 2019).

I do not believe that she is in this photograph

Lesson Learned: Every once in a while, go back an look at what you have. In this case, I had a Citation that was not using the Template feature and I want my citations in that format, BUT it got me to relook at that record. Nothing new, but I was able to confirm small bits and pieces of data that i already had.

Had I don't learned about EvidenceExplained, the Genealogical Proof Standard, and Mastering Genealogical Proof, AND the Features built into Family Tree Maker, I would not have found these two gems about my Grandmother.


by Board for Certification of Genealogists

Some Videos on these topics on DearMYRTLE's You Tube Channel on these topics

Copyright © 2019 by Cousin Russ

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