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Date and Place Name Entry in Family Tree and How To Standardize Data

The following is completely unofficial and is my personal point of view.

Over the past couple of days several complaints have arisen regarding the new data error flag which shows that “standardized” data is missing. These complaints all seem to arise from a mis-understanding of what “standardized” data is.

The explanation of dates and place names found in help center articles, along with most explanations I have seen regarding this issue, neglect to include what I feel are two very important points. The first one being why Family Tree stores two copies of every date and place, one of which is in plain sight and the other hidden behind two mouse clicks and the second point being that “standard” does not mean “correct.”

If I were writing a manual for Family Tree this would be the section on dates and place names (the following is a combination of personal opinion and probably mis-interpreted observations that make sense to me, please don’t let anyone think it could in any way be official):

First is the Display Date or Display Place Name. This entry is to be read by people and, within reason, can be whatever your family considers to be most accurate or most appropriate for your ancestor’s existing original records, situation, historical setting, or language. This entry is the one that appears on a person’s individual page.

Second is the “Standard” Date or Name. In this setting, “standard” does not mean “required,” “recommended,” or even “correct.” This data could more properly called the “Uniform,” “Computer,” “Search,” or “Match” Date and Name. This entry is for computer use only and is used to unambiguously tell the computer program the Julian Day, for a date, or the geocode, for a place, meant by the Display Data. This entry is used by the computer in find routines, sorting routines, and matching routines. It is hidden from casual viewing on a person’s individual page, but can be seen by hovering the mouse pointer of the Display Data or by clicking on a date or place to show the detailed information then by clicking “Edit” to open the editing box.

If a standard date or place is not selected, the green box is yellow instead, the record is marked with a red data error flag, and the computer program’s ability to find the record in searches or match it to possible duplicates is impaired.

Date Entry:

With the Data Entry/Editing box open, click in the Display Date field and start typing in the date. As you type, a quick-entry drop down menu will appear. If appropriate, click on the correct date in the quick-entry menu. This will transfer the quick-entry option into both the Display Date and the Standard Date fields.

Any suitable date format can be entered in the Display Date field. Use the format that best suits the individual situation. Some examples are:

Currently customary: 25 February 1720
American: February 25, 1720
Including additional information: Sunday, February 25, 1720
Double dated: 25 February 1719/1720
ISO Standard: 1720-02-25
Named day with conversion: Dominica Reminiscere [25 February] 1720
Non-English: 1720年2月25日

When typing in a date with formats that do not appear in the quick-entry drop down menu, type the entire date then click outside the data entry field anywhere on the page. Do not make a choice from the quick entry menu. This will close the quick-entry menu and enter the first entry in that menu into the Standard Date field.

All the examples above trigger the same Julian Day of 2,349,332 (i.e. 2,349,332 days “after January 1, 4713 BC, on the proleptic Julian calendar”) which is entered into the Standard Date field as 25 February 1720 (or the equivalent in the language Family Tree is set to use) for easy interpretation. [Author’s note: I really have no idea how the standard date is internally stored in Family Tree but I do know that some type of day number is usually used in computer programing for ease in comparing dates, calculating intervals between dates, and converting between calendar systems.]

If entering the Display Date triggers the wrong Standard Date, click on the incorrect date in the green bar. This will open the standard date drop down menu. Click on the appropriate date to enter it in the Standard Date field. If the Standard Date field is yellow, the computer was unable to interpret the Display Date entered. Edit the date so that a choice of standards is triggered.

Place Name Entry:

With the Data Entry/Editing box open, click in the Display Place Name field and start typing in the place. As you type, a quick-entry drop down menu will appear. If appropriate, click on the correct place in the quick-entry menu. This will transfer the quick-entry option into both the Display Place Name and the Standard Place Name fields.

Any suitable place name can be entered in the Display Place Name field. Most commonly, this will be the name in use on the date of the event being recorded. Place names have changed through history. For example:

Allen's Camp, Yavapai, Arizona Territory, United States
St. Joseph, Yavapai, Arizona Territory, United States
St. Joseph, Apache, Arizona Territory, United States
St. Joseph, Navajo, Arizona Territory, United States
St. Joseph, Navajo, Arizona, United States

all refer to the same geographic location at different times in history.

When typing in places that do not appear in the quick-entry drop down menu, type the entire place name then click outside the data entry field anywhere on the page. Do not make a choice from the quick entry menu. This will close the quick-entry menu and enter the first entry in that menu into the Standard Place Name field.

All the examples above trigger the same geocode, that is the same latitude and longitude, of 34.95583, -110.33333 (as can be seen in Family Search’s Place Research tool found at https://familysearch.org/int-std-ui-r... ) which is entered into the Standard Place Name field, for easy interpretation, in one of several different geographical name versions depending on how the Display Place Name was entered.

Any additional information desired or required for clarity can, within reason, be included in the place name:

St. Joseph Village, Navajo County, Arizona State, United States
2375 East 33rd Street, St. Joseph, Navajo, Arizona, United States
Above the Jacob’s General Store, St. Joseph, Navajo, Arizona, United States
St. Joseph Cemetery (Plot 15-A-6-d), St. Joseph, Navajo, Arizona, United States

These place names, also, all trigger the same geocode.

If entering the Display Place Name triggers the wrong Standard Place Name, click on the incorrect name in the green bar. This will open the standard place name drop down menu. Click on the most appropriate geographical (not necessarily historical) place name available to enter it in the Standard Place Name field. If the Standard Date field is yellow, the computer was unable to interpret the Display Place Name entered. Edit the place name so that a choice of standards is triggered.

The double data entry system used in Family Tree solves a long standing problem in genealogy database, that is, how to enter date and place information in a way that allows researchers to be clear, complete, accurate and understandable to other researchers and at the same time satisfy the requirement of computer programming to be precise and unambiguous.

Gone for good, I hope, are the days of PAF with its strict requirement of two numeral day, three letter month, four numeral year and four section place name, none of which exceed sixteen letters. Family Tree allows me, if necessary and when appropriate, to make the following entry:

Birth
44 years, 6 months, and 5 days before his death on February 4, 1902, which calculates to be 30 July 1857
In a red barn twenty five miles northwest of Johnson’s Mill in Iron County, Utah Territory, United States



which Family Tree happily accepts and uses to enter the green Uniform Julian Day date and Uniform geocode place of:

30 July 1857
Iron, Utah, United States

Reply
  • This was of immense help. The key, as suggested, was to click in the gray area outside of the data entry box and it locked in the place as I desired while giving a place the computer liked. Most important is that the red warnings finally disappeared. Thanks for your explanation.
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  • This is all well and good if one is only using the online Family search tree. I, however, am using Roots Magic 7, and the sync is the one throwing it off. Roots magic tech folks know about this and are working with Family search. I do believe it goes deeper then just my software that I am using. As you can see with the attached image, I am using the standardized place recommendations.
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  • I do as you say and type in Wild Horse Cemetery, Jefferson, Kansas, United States, or I type in McLouth Cemetery, Jefferson, Kansas, United States.

    I hit outside on the gray area and the Standardized Place brings up Wild Horse Cemetery, Graham, Kansas, United States. Graham County, Kansas is a long way from Jefferson County, Kansas, but the computer has brought up Wild Horse Cemetery, Graham, Kansas, United States in green or Standard. How do I get the computer to recognize Wild Horse Cemetery, Jefferson, Kansas, United States as Standard? Have the red warning not Standard in both Wild House Cemetery, Jefferson, Kansas, United States & McLouth Cemetery, Jefferson, Kansas, United States.

    Guess I did not understand your explanation.

    http://kansas.hometownlocator.com/map...
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  • You are halfway there!

    As you did, first type in the whole name of the cemetery:



    Click outside the text box to keep what you type:



    This results in the wrong standard. So click in the green box and and then pick the most correct or appropriate standard:



    Since the cemetery itself is not on the standards list, the best you can do at this point is the county. But since everyone, if standardizing properly, will put the same value in the green bar, matching will work just fine.

    • Whenever a place is not in the standards list, it needs to be added.

      To do this, Open up Place Research (https://familysearch.org/int-std-ui-r...) and enter the name of the place (in this case, the name of the cemetery). If the name does not appear, then click on the feedback in Place Research. This will allow the patron to suggest the name and provide evidence that such a place is valid. I have done this now for three cemeteries.

      To bolster the evidence, I make use of Google Maps (https://www.google.com/maps/) and enter the name of the place there. If the name is valid, it should bring up the actual map of the location, along with potentially a street address (this is particularly true of cemeteries). I include the map reference and information from Google Maps.

      Keep in mind that it takes time to get the list updated. I'm not sure how long it takes, but submitting additions to the list will not only make it more complete, but will assist everyone in their efforts to produce accurate records.
    • Note that this applies to standard places. One of the things to keep in mind is that the name of a place can change over time as Gordon demonstrates. The standard list takes that into allowance and as such, if you are aware that a particular place's name has changed, then that information needs to be provided via feedback in Place Research.

      When selecting a place name, the user needs to take into account what the name of the place was at the time of the event. This is the name that should
      appear in the entry and if it is not in the standard list, use feedback at Place Research to suggest the name of the place (with the applicable dates). Record the name used at the time of the event and select the appropriate standard.
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  • But why can't we get the right name for the Cemetery? I don't want just Jefferson, Kansas, United States. Someone in the future will type in the correct name and we will be off again on the Standard name for the cemetery. If this was your close relative would you settle for Jefferson County, Kansas as the Standard name for the cemetery? If this is the case we need to go back to just letting people enter the name of the cemetery they know is correct, and not worry about getting a red warning from familysearch.org. Maybe I will go along with Standard dates and places, for birth & death, but let us type in the correct name for the cemetery, and not worry about getting a red warning from familysearch.
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  • When you save the above, you do have the proper, complete name:



    No one needs to ever edit this again. The Display Name is correct and the computer has an adequate geocode location, which is also correct, in the green box to use for searching and matching.

    As I wrote above, I personally don't really like the term "standard." I wish Family Search had used the term "Smallest Geographic Region Currently In Our Files That We Can Search On And As Long As The Real Name In The White Box Falls Somewhere In This Area, All The Computer Search And Match Routines Will Work Just Fine." But I guess that wouldn't fit in the green box.
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  • OK, I finally got it to work. I sincerely apologize for going off on my not thinking it would work. When I saw “Jefferson, Kansas, United States” in green, and told by you for now, I thought no, I can not accept this. Thanks for your coming back at me again and helping me to understand how it works. I now have no red warning for burial place. Thank you very very much. - Don
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  • Gordon - Need your help again please. I am working with John B Atherton LZ8G-QFW​ who is buried in George Brown Pioneer Cemetery, Polk, Oregon, United States

    There is no Polk County, Oregon listed in the Standard. The only other listing in the list, is Dolph, Polk, Oregon, United States that is the closest I get to Polk, Oregon, United States.

    It kind of bothers me that it does not bring up the name of just the County - Polk, Oregon, United States.

    Should I use Dolph, Polk, Oregon, United States?

    Sorry to bother you. - Don
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  • Gordon, thanks again for one more of your always thoughtful and helpful explanations.
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  • Don,
    I can't tell you what you should do since the appearance of your relations in Family Tree is up to you, but you have brought up an example with a problem that you might want to forward to the people who maintain the standards list at
    https://familysearch.org/int-std-ui-r... along with your recommendation of what the standard should be. I wouldn't think there should ever be a situation where you cannot pick just the county for the standard if you need to.

    Here are some thoughts, however. This is basically a list showing how entering the name influences what appears in the drop down menus. These show the quick-entry menu, but the standards drop down menu will be the same. Notice that certain combinations make Polk, Oregon, United States drop off the list. It mainly seems to be a problem with combining Brown and Pioneer. Also notice how punctuation influences things.

















    I did google the name of the cemetery and the top hit was this obituary:



    Based on that, if I were working on this family, I think I would choose the following,which does let you choose Polk, Oregon, United States in the standards menu:



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  • Thank you very very much Gordon Collett - I now have a better handle on how I am going to use the Standard for those places that are not showing in the Standard list. Thank you again. - Don
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    • Add a postal address?
      Williams Cemetery, 1569 Rural Route 10, Wilson, Tennessee, United States

      Add specific location information?
      Williams Cemetery, 10 miles North and 5 miles east of Williams Springs, Wilson, Tennessee, United States

      Add the geocode?
      Williams Cemetery (geocode: -54.49049, 30.55668), Wilson, Tennessee, United States

      I have never been able to run out of room in a place name, so I don't know what the maximum character entry is. As long as you can get an appropriate green bar entry (for the above it would likely just be Wilson, Tennessee, United States) the white box displayed text can be almost anything you need it to be.

      You can also take a screen shot from Google maps. If Google can put a red marker on the cemetery, great! If not, open the map in any image processing program and add your own marker then post the map as a source as I have done for the burial place for Rebecca Burdick ( https://familysearch.org/tree/#view=a... - see halfway down her sources: "Location of the Rebecca Winters Memorial Park")
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  • I’m frustrated but hopeful that sanity will prevail (in the long run).
    Just another frustrated observation. You have described a "work around" that most users of FamilySearch will have a hard time finding. One the one hand your technique has the benefit that no additional code would need to be written. On the other hand, it supposes that the normal user will have an easy time knowing where to look for your help. (sigh). I would prefer a separate box for the cemetery name, leaving the town, county, state and country to have the normal process.
    I do not share your desire to have some other name than "standard." Regardless of the underlying implementation, the display should be in a uniform format that users can easily 1) recognize as correct and 2)emulate. I call that the standard.
    My OCD begs for easy-to-follow rules and procedures. I should not have to invest the considerable time you clearly have invested in learning the "guts" of this tool before I begin to use it. I should not have to "trick" the system into accepting a cemetery name in a field specifically coded to clean up the mess that earlier tools allowed.
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    • All users need training on this. We showed this in the Family History Library, Family Tree classes to missionaries and patrons, and they got it just fine. Training for users in their homes is needed. Perhaps the Tips in the bottom right corner can teach this. Great job Gordon.
    • Not only the users, but also the FamilySearch support staff. Most do not have a background in computer support and issues like this cause many poor responses (from my experience).
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  • Please allow me to give another example, beyond cemeteries, as to why the current dual place name system is so important.

    My wife has a huge number of ancestors from the island/parish/community of Stord, Hordaland, Norway which has an area of just over 55 square miles. In that parish are 67 farms. For genealogical research, it is vital to know which farm people lived at.

    Currently, all the farms give a standardization choice of either Stord, Hordaland, Noway or [Farm Name], Hordaland, Norway. There are just a couple that have [Farm Name], Stord, Hordaland, Norway. As far as matching places and finding duplicates, having the standard Stord, Hordaland, Norway works just fine and there really isn’t any need to have 670 standards for the area, that is each farm as [Farm Name with an average of 10 historically correct spelling variants], Stord, Hordaland, Norway.

    However, putting the “standard” of just Stord, Hordaland, Norway in the white display box removes the extremely important farm name.

    So why not use the standard of [Farm Name], Hordaland, Norway? To illustrate that, take the example of the farm Tveit in Stord.

    Putting Stord in the Place Research Tool gives three locations which are all basically equivalent, the island itself, the parish church, and the location of the civic administration center for Stord community. These are all ways to refer to the same place.



    Putting Tveit, Hordaland, Norway in the Place Research Tool, gives fourteen different farms scattered all over Hordaland, an area of nearly 6,000 square miles. None of these fourteen are on Stord.



    So If I use the “standard” of Tveit, Hordaland, Norway for someone living there, the match routine will be pulling people from all over Hordaland, not just Stord. And if I put that “standard” in the white display box, the next researcher will have no idea which Tveit I am talking about. And if they check in the Place Research Tool, they won’t find the right farm.

    I need to have the white display box give the right farm, Tveit, Stord, Hordaland, Norway and I need the green standard box to give a reasonable search, Stord at 55 square miles rather than many incorrect farms scattered over 6,000 square miles.

    The final aspect of the dual place name system that is so important is that it lets me put in as needed the correct historical name. Whether I put in the white display box Vikanes, Stord, Hordaland, Norway or Wiganæs, Stord, Sondre Bergenhus, Norway, depending on the year, the green standard box can still display Stord, Hordaland, Norway and the match routines work just fine.
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  • This is a great explanation, and can be shared with others. Just leave out words like geocode, which only the smarties like Gordon are going to get.
    • I used "geocode" because it seems like everyone has a GPS system in their car or on their phone or has heard of geocaching. Feel free to substitute "geographic location," "latitude and longitude," or "physical location."

      Just get people to understand two things:

      1) White box = "This is what I want to call the place."
      Green box = "I don't care what you call it, this is where the thumbtack goes on the map."

      2) These are two different pieces of information and the program needs both of them, even if they look the same.
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  • For a year or two I've been employing these principles but occasionally I find that the white box has trouble accepting some particular detail. To overcome that, I simply add the offending detail in parenthesis on the right hand end of my entry. For example: (Snake Valley Cemetery, Methodist Section).

    While there may be a work-around which would enable me to put "Snake valley Cemetery, Methodist Section" at the LHS of the place name, I cannot always make it work on the left, and I find that putting in on the RHS is quick, easy, and effective.
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  • Gordon - I have a question for you that is slightly off topic. If only a christening date/location is known for a person, what do you put in the "Birth" field in Family Tree? Do you leave it blank, or do you put in an estimated birth date and location based on the christening? Does Family Tree require a value in the Birth field for any reason or is it OK to leave it blank? Same question applies to death/burial fields. Thanks.
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  • Not Gordon replying here, but I teach Family Search throughout the Kona, Hawaii Temple District. I believe it is best to generally leave the unknown fields blank. Most of Europe kept church records only for christenings and burials and not for births. Often a person may have been born in one village but christened in another and by guessing, you may be guessing wrong. Family Search now has images of many of these church records which can be searched under the "Search" feature. The actual image should always be consulted because the Indexers do not necessarily index all of the information. Many of the original records will say something like "Benjamin Willard, chr. 5 Apr 1578, son of Simon of Horsmonden." Now this entry is from the neighboring Brenchley parish, so the entry can properly be done for the christening in Brenchley -- but Horsmonden can be added for the birth location. I recommend not putting an estimated birth date in this case since the christening date is known and any date you put in may be wrong since you are guessing with no proof. Sometimes a christening could happen a year or years later when a traveling minister passes thru a village as was the case in Colonial America.

    If you are LDS you do have to have at least one location entered to validate the individual and to help in the duplicate search. This location can be as vague "United States" to work. Dates are not required for validation since the relationships now uniquely identify a person among the human family.

    With the lack of any information, you can however enter any date you want and the system permits the use of qualifiers for dates such as "about, before, after, and from (date) to (date)." These can be helpful where many share the name you are working on. This thread started talking about the use of "of" before a location and how to do so -- this "of" can be helpful if you are in fact guessing also on a location based on the best available information.

    In short, I would not recommend filling in blanks for the sake of filling out blanks, especially when christening or burial info is known and recorded. You are only guessing and you may be guessing wrong in those cases.
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  • The problem is that when you leave the birth date and location spaces blank, others often later add the christening/baptism date and place in those blanks (sites such as Ancestry.com often contribute to this confusion by calling a christening date a date of birth). A similar problem exists when another descendant has already added the christening date and place information also into the birth date and place spaces. So I have resorted to using an "About" with the same year as the date and an "Of" with the same place in the birth spaces.
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  • If I have only a christening date (say, 5 February 1877) I like to enter a birth date "before 5 February 1877". It is perfectly true (not a guess) and, as Reed says above, it may discourage other users from copying the christening date and entering it as a birth date.

    I welcome comments from others about my practice as here described - for or against the idea. I'm keen to know what other users do. I'm also keen to know what the FSFT official staff think, and why.
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  • Seems very redundant to make up a birth date when a proven christening date is known and documented. If someone copies the christening date and inserts it also for a birth date, I find that it is very easy to just send a message to the individual doing so and then it doesn't happen again. I find it is rare someone adds a birth date that copies the christening unless there own record is mixed up and again a message helps them see the problem. One can also had a note at the bottom of the record explaining the problem. Just adding an "about" and "of" isn't going to stop someone from eliminating those terms if in fact they believe the christening is the birth. I think it is more a problem that people just like to fill in empty space. I think it is best to only put down what is known and use the notes to make comments at what is guessed at.
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  • That would be gaming the system. Why not just be straight forward and state the facts? I think this all dates back to the old ancestral file where LDS folks had to make up dates to do their temple work. Old habits die hard. That is no longer the case since now Family Search for the LDS temple work only requires a single name (first or last), a gender, and one locality which can be as vague as "United States", "England," or whatever is accurate in a broad sense. I tried for awhile to do what was suggested of putting the ofs and abouts in the birth to coincide with a known christening, but I found others would later remove the ofs and abouts. It is better to educate the less informed by message or adding a clear note with a reference to a source.
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  • Kerry, I appreciate your comments and still hope to hear from FSFT staff on the issue.

    Nope, I don't make the "before" entry because of the old practices, but to "be straight forward and state the facts" and thereby to discourage other users from filling the birth date space with inaccurate and misleading entries.

    Yes, "ofs" and "abouts" merely invite other users to remove them. And messages reach only one user at a time. However, a clear Reason statement with the "before ... " birth entry makes it clear that the entry is based on the christening date. And the christening date referred to must always be tagged with its trustworthy Source. Then I also enter a Discussion inviting other users to research a full birth date.
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  • Being conceptually a Wiki or user generated family tree, you will not receive any direction from FSFT management on a "proper protocol" for the question under discussion. There is none. Family Search is designed to be democratic from the ground up and not authoritative from the top down. They learned that did not work well under the old Ancestral File program. Family Search now only provides the tools for us to do what we think best and leaves it up to us the community to determine the input that works. Messy yes, but much better than Ancestral File.
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    • Yes you are correct in regards to software, but we are talking about something totally different -- data. Current software design remains neutral (deliberately so in my opinion) in regards to the question on hand of made up birth data vs known christening data. I have read every single word of every Family Search guide and there is no such thing as "best practice" in regards to this question unless someone else can find such direction. We are reduced to one person's opinion versus another person's opinion without any referee statement, which of course is not definitive. This is not who wins the vote or a "community of one voice." Family Search has designed a system that permits us to determine how to report the data without dictating a proper protocol or format in regards to this specific question. The majority of submitters will statistically, but organically, move this one way or other. From my viewpoint, I believe factual data is winning over made-up data in regards to christening vs. birth reporting. Of course this only lasts until the very next person changes the data presentation to fit their perspective. I guess the point is don't look for any direction from a manual, FS Data Admin, or software design on this question.
    • Data is subject to validation, relationships, etc., that are just as set in software as algorithms.

      "I believe factual data is winning over made-up data in regards to christening vs. birth reporting" - saying that the birth-date is before the baptism-date (allowing for the possibility of equality in the word "before") is not making anything up. It's a statement of truth. The issue about a birth-date of "before dd/mm/yyyy" is not whether it's made-up or not - it's whether it's redundant or not. I'm not a great fan of redundant data that's a statement of the obvious, so if I could leave it out, I would. But it's unclear to me whether omitting birth data, may or may not result in sub-optimal performance of reports or screens further down the line. I really don't want to mess about experimenting and investigating (and probably missing a crucial bit) when FS's software guys might be able to come up with a definitive answer. That's important guidance I believe.

      Further, failure to provide adequate guidance has led to the situation over standardised locations and dates, where a major percentage of users don't understand the concepts or how to use them, and even if they do, may not have twigged what this means for issues like contemporary v. current location names. As a result of that failure to provide guidance (which arguably should be coded into the User Interface and not in some manual or blog that - cynically - no-one reads), we have some gallant and excellent work in this forum on these topics trying to guide people in how to use the system - but isn't that diverting people away from what they ought to be doing - family history?

      There are many aspects where FS FT allows several ways to do a thing and codifies that in algorithms and data modelling (i.e. data design) - and that's absolutely right. Why impose one way when several work?

      But I still contend that there are occasions when guidance about process and data values should come from FS, preferably coded into the system if it is possible to make such a firm decision - or as "best practice" advice that can, if necessary, be broken when odd circumstances arise.
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  • Well stated! I'll save your words to use some of them on the next occasion when a FH leader speaks as if there's only one way to do things in FSFT.

    But I do wonder how many of the FSFT management team express the same view as you have expressed.

    I find FSFT a magnificent program - and still improving!
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  • Bryan -
    You have gotten much better answers than I could ever give, but I'll throw in just a couple of comments. One thing I really like about Family Tree is that it is so flexible. There is extremely little it requires. This flexibility lets it accommodate almost any situation you find yourself in and almost any type of record you might run across (with some limitations, e.g. people are still clamoring for more choices under marriage events).

    So to answer your question, no, there is no requirement to put any information under birth or death. Putting known information just under christening and burial and leaving the others blank works just fine. If fact, there are thousands of records in Family Tree from extraction programs that have just the christening date and nothing else because that is all the extracted record had.

    When you put in just the christening date, that is clearly shown on the summary cards and the search result screens:





    Now, what do I personally do? My wife and I are working mainly in her family which is all Norwegian except for one Swedish great-grandfather's line. The parish records from 1815 on give both birth date and residence and christening date and place so that is straight forward.

    Before 1815, the christening records give birth place, christening date, and christening place. If I put in just that information, then the birth place overrides the christening information and in situations where only the birth or christening information show up, not both, the birth takes precedence and no date information will show.



    Due to that, and due to the fact that in the parish records we are working in it was so extremely rare to not be christened within a few days of life (I had someone tell me once that in the 1700's in Norway there was a law that you had to have your child christened before eight days of life but I have never gotten around to confirming that) that I do go ahead and put the christening year in the birth year slot.

    For other records, which give no indication of birth date or place, I think I would agree with leaving the birth completely blank.

    Here is an idea for the programmers, although I would wonder if they would see it this for down in this post. How about making it possible to put a reason statement on empty information?



    Right now, this is not possible. You would still want to have the christening date instead of blank birth information show up on the summary card and such. You could, of course, have such a note in the Notes section, but putting it right there where someone who was intending to make up birth information would see it, might stop them.
    • I would report the problem of ignoring Christening information in favor of a birth date with the appropriate screen shots to demonstrate what you are saying, as a problem. In my mind, placing a Christening date as the birth date is not only misleading, but non compliant with genealogical standards.

      I really like your suggestion for allowing dates to remain blank and an explanation offered in the "reason this information is correct" -- if there is no reason given, then the save should fail. But if there is a reason, then I would like to see the save be successful, but also I would like to see that same comment appear in the notes.
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  • Here's my recommendation of what to do about Christening and implied Birth conclusions.
    Don't guess and add a conclusion if I'm not sure. Data is a combination of it existing and quality - accuracy.

    This data is referred to as vital conclusions - - something a human does to declare what they believe is correct. If I conclude a christen date from record then I provide that. If I can't conclude a Birth date I leave it blank. It would serve no purpose. If I later discover the Birth certificate, or can make a conclusion, I add that as a Birth conclusion.

    Christen and Birth are treated the same in the algorithms, and either can be used to qualify, or show in the lifespan of the Person. Same goes for the pair of Burial and Death vital events. Most tools also treat these fields as equivalent priority (search). Putting in a "guess" in the birth could result in lousy results and hints, and data quality flags...

    "about" "from x to y"? I avoid those if I have a better conclusion in the other field. Other users already can deduce that from the filled in field. For example if Death is 1940, I won't add Birth "on or before 1940". If I scan quickly the Person details or look at the lifespan I'll see a conclusion (1940) and think I don't need to go find it.

    There are only 3 required fields for a Person: a Name, Sex (Male, Female, Unknown) and Deceased/Living conclusion. Deceased does not need an event, just the declaration. For Temple qualification, the Sex can not be Unknown, and one vital event must have a standardized event (date and place), and this data is used check policy.
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    • Regarding the PID not working: Most likely, when you are copying and pasting, you are picking up a space or other invisible character before or after the number. Usually it works best to triple click on the number to highlight it, then copy it. When you drag over the number the copy, that is when you are most likely to pick up the extra invisible characters.
    • Cherie, I started a new thread concerning your question. THis way the right teams will be able to follow it better. Thanks
      https://getsatisfaction.com/familysearch/topics/searching-for-the-christening-in-records-search
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  • Gordon, I can appreciate your view with respect to dates and places. I haven't fully explored the date issue, but I have some very large concerns over your rather "free" approach to recording places.

    First and foremost, there are instructions issued by the Church for using Family Tree and recording dates and places. These are contained in the Reference Guide -- http://broadcast.lds.org/eLearning/fh...

    For instance, you state, "When typing in places that do not appear in the quick-entry drop down menu, type the entire place name then click outside the data entry field anywhere on the page. Do not make a choice from the quick entry menu. This will close the quick-entry menu and enter the first entry in that menu into the Standard Place Name field."

    The guide states, "If you want the system to keep exactly what you entered, select
    None of the Above - This option appears at the bottom of the list of standard dates or places."

    The problem with your instruction is that the first entry may not be even close to the actual place being entered. I strongly recommend following the guide's instructions.

    What does apply to clicking away from the standard place, is when you, "include extra information that does not appear in the standardized place, such as the name of a hospital, cemetery, or church where the event took place, do the following:

    a. Begin typing the place as you want it to appear. As you type, the system displays the closest matches in the drop-down list of standardized places.

    b. Type the final part of the place as it appears in the standardized place. The system now displays the place you typed and the standardized place.

    c. Instead of clicking the standardized place, click somewhere else on the screen.
    The system leaves the place as you typed it but connects the place with the
    standardized place."

    It should be noted that these instructions are approved by members of the Council of the Twelve before they are published. When the first instructions for using Family Tree were written, they were scrutinized prayerfully by the Brethren and only after all the corrections were made, were the instructions made available in various formats.

    Again, I can appreciate applying your own ideas to using Family Tree, but as you say, it is not in any way official.

    My advice is to follow the Brethren. Having been involved in the Mission at the time the instructions were first prepared, taught me a great deal about what the Church publishes. We really are not authorized to deviate from those instructions with our own.
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  • Thanks for your opinion and concern.

    However, please quote all the applicable instructions even if my formatting leaves something to be desired:

    When typing in places that do not appear in the quick-entry drop down menu, type the entire place name then click outside the data entry field anywhere on the page. Do not make a choice from the quick entry menu. This will close the quick-entry menu and enter the first entry in that menu into the Standard Place Name field. ...

    If entering the Display Place Name triggers the wrong Standard Place Name, click on the incorrect name in the green bar. This will open the standard place name drop down menu. Click on the most appropriate geographical (not necessarily historical) place name available to enter it in the Standard Place Name field.


    I really am strictly following the guide. I'm just explaining what the guide says.

    I wrote this extended treatise because 1) too few people can find the guide, 2) too few of those that can find it, read it, 3) too few of those that read it, understand the dual-data place entry system Family Tree uses and complain repeatedly on this board that they can't get it to work and can't get Family Tree to accept completely correct place names and dates.

    For example, there are a large number of very frustrated people out there who read the instructions "If you want the system to keep exactly what you entered, select
    None of the Above - This option appears at the bottom of the list of standard dates or places" who are now very upset because they have red error icons all over the place saying dates and places are not standardized as a result of following that instruction and not realizing that after clicking "None of the Above," you need need to click on the yellow bar and pick a standard to match the entry you just completed.
    • Yeah, the Data Problem is a very large problem. I've opened cases regarding this, suggesting that if "None of the above" applies. then the feedback screen from Place Research needs to open, where the user can enter the place.

      I'm one of those who have complained (and opened tickets) repeatedly because right now, the place system is basically unstable, something like a wobbly tire. Plus, it doesn't help matters that engineers are attempting to fix things behind the scenes and thus, the conditions keep changing that are causing problems..

      Trying to find the guide needs to be a lot easier. It also needs to be something that can be found on any Family Tree display, possibly by just putting "Guide" in the menu bar at the top of the tree and person pages.

      While I'm on the topic of finding things, I had to use Google to locate this forum. That was after a FamilySearch person told me I should be complaining about the problems in the "Get Satisfaction" discussions. Of course, they didn't provide a link to this site.

      Maybe we can work together to come up with some outstanding suggestions that can be implemented to help others. Not being able to quickly open the User's Guide, along with a link to this forum are just two areas that can stand a lot of improvement. That and, of course, fixing the inconsistent way that Data Problem flags are being used, along with the inconsistencies in the dual date/place system.
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  • I'm sorry, but I almost had to laugh! You give a wonderful illustration of the difficulty of having such a large, complex, wonderful program like Family Search that is still, to paraphrase Ron Tanner (I'd say quote but I'm not sure I remember correctly), "not even to version 1.0 yet" stay consistent with it's terminology. You couldn't find the link to these "Get Satisfaction" discussions, but it is on every single page of Family Tree. You get here through the Feedback link at the bottom of every page:

    Click on Feedback:



    Then click on "Share Your Idea" in the pop-up window:



    And here you are:



    More than one person has commented on this board that they thought they were submitting feedback and had no idea how they ended up on a discussion board.

    (Sorry for going way off the topic here, but we can't stay too serious or computers would drive us crazy.)
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  • I’m LOL
    Wow. I'm not a mind reader, Gordon, but being told to use "Get Satisfaction" and not being told to use "Share your idea" just did not connect with me, especially at the frustration level I was at with the responses I was getting.

    Sharing ideas and complaining about a problem are two very different things in my book.

    That said, I'm glad I could give you a chuckle.

    Tom
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  • On not being at version 1.0 may be accurate according to Ron Tanner, but it doesn't help that there is no indication of the version that we are actually at.

    We got regular advanced feedback about the progress of Family Tree while I was serving my mission. I think we (in the mission training zone) were all very excited about what was happening.

    Moving from nFS to Family Tree was like traveling down a highway at seventy miles an hour and changing a tire at the same time. At that point, nFS had basically run out of steam because of all the duplicate ordinance entries as they opened the program to members along the "Mormon Corridor."

    I am very pleased with Family Tree and all that is being attempted, but some features are released before they are ready for "prime time" as I like to put it.

    The bugs are really quite small, but they represent major issues to many people, especially the data problem flags. I love the concept, but where dates (largely resolved at this point) and places are involved, that needed to wait.

    The other issue is the fact that finding the User's Guide is not an easy task while you are in the process of changing that tire. And that's where a lot of users are.

    To be honest, a lot of members do not take the time needed to use the system or even try. As a Family History consultant, who not only served a mission at the Family History Department, but also opened a new FHC, and directed one for a number of years, I've run into many things, and member apathy is one of them.

    One of the big comments that often come out of National Genealogy Society conferences is that the professionals love the Church for what it is doing to help make research easier and more accessible, but they detest the way the members behave when it comes to what they are doing.

    I'm a convert, but my wife comes from a family that has been in the church for several generations. As she has noted, her family is a family of copiers and back in the days of paper family group sheets (8-1/2 x 14), she saw a lot of sheets for the same family held by the same person, none of which agree with any other. As to which one was actually correct? That was anyone's guess.

    Family Tree is one of the greatest concepts around. I believe that some of the ideas are absolutely right on the mark, but others need a lot of refinement. You've made some great suggestions to help make things easier, if not more intuitive (and you are correct about getting members to read the user's guide).

    As to using Family Tree for living people, we're of differing opinions. We were given some very specific instructions, but that was during its "sandbox" days before it was released, even to missionaries to use. It has certainly come a long way and it will be great as it reaches toward its goal. I just hope the developers do not miss sight of the original goal with respect to the Doctrine and Covenants: "Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple, when it is finished, a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.” (D&C 128:24.)

    I think that is why I'm not sold on the idea of using this great resource for keeping track of living individuals. Personally, I've found I have a tremendous amount of work to do for my kindred dead first.
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  • Another way to get to GS:
    https://getsatisfaction.com/familysearch

    If I had to spec a version number we're at about V0.92 for FamilyTree (FT).
    The FS product code set probably changes multiple times a week. There is that much work pouring into FS and FT.

    nFS taught a lot. It was a stepping stone to FT. FT has made so much progress since its release about 3 years ago. Hopefully V1.0 is around the corner next year, once FT is decoupled from nFS. There is so much work to make the user experience better, to facilitate better quality data... Keep the suggestions coming. I love the passion I see in this work. Thanks
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