Monday, October 28, 2019

What? No Citations ?

I have a Family Tree Maker file that I had researched 10 to 15 years ago. Many versions of the program ago, but a friend asked me for some information from that file.

I had opened it several times over the years, but was very disheartened to notice that ALL of my Citations were gone. ALL of them. I went to my oldest back up, same deal.

I did have an external drive crash, had recovered it, but still no back up's with Citations.

This is one reason why I recommend "testing" your back ups.

So, what do I do ? I have this very important person asking me questions about folks in this database. I, of course, wanted to be able to say yes or no to questions, but be able to provide Source Information.

After some dialog, mostly that I didn't have answers to the questions, I thought about what I should do, This database has about 1250 profiles, with some good information. Some Dates, some places, many relationships, but no Citations.

I should mention, that this line has some stories that I know about, and have a cousin connection, in my Master File, but that cousin connection also happens to be in THIS FILE. That is one of the reasons that I had looked at this file some time ago. I need to get this file, up to my standards.

Here is my PLAN:

Get this file Online to see IF what I have, will generate HINTS from Ancestry?
7,039 Hints
5,595 RECORD Hints

The data that I have, Names, Dates, Places AND Relationships are doing what they should be doing, Generating Hints.

I totally use these hints for all of my research, that I can Online, to gather enough information to know what I need to look for, and where, when a visit to a repository / archive it required.

I did a couple of Web Merges, to make sure that I would get the expected results, that is GOOD Hints. The one's I have tried, all were accurate, presented no conflicting information (so far). So the theory that the file and linked Ancestry Member Tree would give me good hints.

As I said earlier, I have created my standards for my file (now files). How I do things, manage Filenames, Citations, Place Names (historic and current), Research Log and ToDo Lists.

My first step is to Marks ALL Profiles with a Fact that I will use to show me that this Profile is NOT Documented. I use the Undocumented Fact Report on a routine bases (usually daily). That would be of no use on this file. So, ALL profiles will have this Fact, so when I run the Undocumented Fact Report, I can Filter OUT, all profiles that have this Fact. When all of the Facts for each profile is documented, I can Remove that Fact and run that report again.

While I am Adding that Fact to each profile, I am looking at the profile, mostly for Place Names. This file is so old, that we did NOT have a Resolve Place Name utility, so place names were not in the proper format. So while I am looking at the Profile, I will resolve those Place Names that I am able to (quickly). For example, I had 341 Unresolved Place Names and now am down to 224. Still a lot, but most of those unresolved place names will require a RECORD to correct the place name. There are many that are involved with Virginia / West Virginia historic place names. As I have posted before, I will double enter those place names to include the historic place name and the current place name for the Map feature.

Also, there are many place names from England and Ireland. I am not even trying to address those place names until I look at the records. Many of the 224 Place names all into that category.

ALL of my Birth, Marriage, and Death Dates, that only have the Year, I change to "Abt. YYYY". So, that clean up is being done. I have also deleted a number of Birth, Marriage, and Death Dates where I might have the Year, AND another entry for complete data and place name. I'll delete that Year only entry.

I have already run the Data Error Report with ALL Profiles what appear in that report are Marked with a Fact with that name AND a ToDo item for that profile. I know that the only way I will resolve most of those errors, is with a Record. They are ALL Marked and will resolve them when I am looking at records.

When I finish marking all of the Profiles as being not documented, I will invite this researcher to this Ancestry Member Tree to allow them to look at my data themselves. I have a "File Note" profile, in my database and in the AMT, where I add all of the information on how I handle this file. Why I do "stuff" in the file. Why did I do THAT ??? see the File Notes.

I already have a number of "stories" about the people in this File. I have visited a number of place where this "line" traveled through or to. One of the stories, that I have documented, is this line had an encounter with George Washington and his brother, as the family were neighbors of the Washington's.

I can't forget my Cousin Connection from my Master file, NOR can I forget the connection to my Mother's family, that may have a connection. I had forgotten that connection until I started to look at the file.

Finally, I am writing this blog post, as one of the things I am tracking, is how good or bad are the Hints we get from our online trees, from Ancestry. I have done this study several times in the past, and in the past I have experienced a high rate of success (90% - 95%). With all of the changes in Family Tree Maker and how we receive our Hints, I want to see how the hinting system is working today.

Lesson Learned:

1) Test your Back Up's

2) Don't Delete your "old" Back Up's.

Copyright © 2019 by Cousin Russ


  1. Interesting and helpful to learn how a fellow genealogist tests their files and backups. Just wondering - do you have any idea why only citations went missing from your backed up files? Thanks

    1. Tessa,

      Please remember that I haven't really worked on this file for 15+ years. Many versions of the program over that time period.

      I am working on recovering the data from the External Drive that crashed. Perhaps that will help. I want to know when and how it happened myself, which is why I want to recover the data on that external drive. Its there, just need some time to recover that data.

      Thank you,



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