Friday, April 17, 2009

How I Entered Data & GEDCOM

How I Entered My Genealogy Information and Using GEDCOM for Data Exchange

I used the LDS DOS Personal Ancestral File (PAF) version 2.31 to record my genealogy data. For many years I ran the DOS version of the PAF program in a Window of the Windows operating system. I created many different genealogy files because there was a limit to the number of records that could be stored in anyone one PAF database.

As of 2009 I am slowly converting my genealogy files to the RootsMagic program. This is a long process which I may complete someday.

Some comments about how I entered the data into my files.

Unfortunately I did not use the "Co." abbreviation with county names. I regret this because it causes confusion. As I've converted my files to RootsMagic I added this abbreviation to the county names in some of my files. Having a way to tell when a name pertains to a county is useful because often the name of a town and the name of a county are the same. If we don't indicate when the name pertains to the county the readers of our genealogies are confused.
When the full name of a person wasn't known I usually entered the word "Unknown" in the field where the missing name belonged. This is especially true in the case where a woman had children out of wedlock. In this situation I always entered the name of the father as "Unknown Unknown."

In the case of surnames such as McCoy I entered the name as "Mc Coy". This was done because programs which automatically capitalize the surname to "MCCOY" make it impossible for the reader to know that the name should only have two captial letters in it.

I entered place names in this order: town/city, county, state. In the case of burial a fourth piece of information, the cemetery name was entered: town/city, county, state, cemetery name. In PAF (2.31) only 16 characters were allowed for each of the 4 place name fields, so sometimes the cemetery name is truncated. You can usually find the full name of the cemetery entered in the "note" field. When I started using the RootsMagic genealogy program I corrected the cemetery name problem whenever I noticed it.

In the "notes" of PAF 2.31 I entered a period (.) in the first position of lines between paragraphs. Why I did this is a long story. In brief it was to keep the paragraphs from closing up on each other when printed by some programs. As I converted my files to RootsMagic I removed this place holder. PAF 2.31 also didn't use word wrap in the note fields. This problem can be fixed in RootsMagic. However, it is a very time consuming project to accomplish. Once the problem is corrected the text in paragraphs flows across the entire width of a report page eliminating all of the white space on the right side of the page.

When I found a source citation I included that information in the "note" field in PAF. PAF 2.31 didn't support source citation. If I thought there was a conflict about data I discussed the issue with a "Problem:" or "CONFLICT:" "note."

Finally, some comments about exchanging data between genealogy programs.

Information can be exchanged between genealogy programs using the GEDCOM format. The letters stand for Genealogical Data Communications format or some such computer terminolgy. This is also a very good way to backup your genealogy files because GEDCOM makes the files portable between computers and genealogy programs.

When I send a GEDCOM you get everything I know. I don't hold back information.

It is a good idea to check GEDCOM files for completeness. The last line in any good GEDCOM file is the TRLR, trailer line. This line has those 4 characters "TRLR" in the line. When I make or receive a GEDCOM file I always check to see that this line is in place. You can use a word processor or text editor program to view a GEDCOM because it is a "text" file. There is no point sharing or loading the file if the "TRLR" line isn't there.

While I am still involved in genealogy, I ask that you do not share any GEDCOM file you receive from me with anyone else. If someone wants my work I will be glad to discuss sending them a GEDCOM if they contact me directly.

However, if you incorporate any, or all, of my data into your own genealogy file then you may consider the data yours and you may share it in any way you see fit. That is to say, if you create a GEDCOM file from your own genealogy program feel free to share it.

I am still interested in adding more information to my files. However, as of 2009 my main interests are to: 1) recovery all my genealogy files and convert them to RootsMagic, 2) continue to publish and share the information I have already gathered, 3) place copies of more of my work in genealogy libraries around the country.

I appreciate any proof reading help I get. I don't care how small the typo might be, I would like to know about it.

Good luck with your genealogy. And, if you have shared your informationwith me, thank you for sharing.

Dick Henthorn
5403 76th Avenue
Hyattsville, MD 20785-1705
(301) 459-0535
Modified 17 Apr 2009

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