Genealogy Software Comparison, Part 4a: More on Census Records – RM

Census records are fundamental to US genealogical research in 19th and early 20th centuries.  I like to think of the census records as a framework on which to build our ancestors’ full story.  If we manage to locate all the relevant census records, we are provided with decennial snapshots of our ancestral families.  We can then research other sources to fill in the details of the intervening years and produce a complete biography.

In Part 4 of this series, I will expand upon the entering of census data that I began in Part 3.  In earlier posts, I entered a census fact for an individual and examined the source citation that the program created.  I compared each citation to Evidence Explained to see how close they were to Elizabeth Shown Mills’ standard.  See the summary post for my conclusions.

Since a census record documents the individuals in a household, it is important to enter census data for everyone who was living together at the time of the census.  One would hope that the software programs would make it easy to replicate this data across all proper family members.  It is also desirable to include a transcription of the census data and link to the image of the census page.

This post will work with the 1910 census for Grandma Ida’s family.  In 1910 she was living with her parents, Nicholas and Theresa, and her younger brother Clarence.

Nicholas Huber Family in the 1910 Census

Starting with Nicholas Huber’s “Edit Person” window, I added the census fact for the 1910 census and the source citation.  I covered this procedure in the blog post Citing a Census Source – RM and will not repeat it here.  Here are the Master Source and Source Details for this census record.

Next, I clicked on the tab labeled “Detail text” and entered the transcription of the census record.

To add the image of the census record, I clicked on the “Media” tab, then on the “Add new media” button.  I selected the media type ( “Image” — could also be “File,” “Sound” or “Video”) and the location for the media.  This will be “Disk” because the image is on my computer.  Alternatively, I could use my scanner to get a digital copy of a photo.  After clicking “Disk” a Windows file picker appears so that I can select the right file.

After loading the image, RootsMagic displays the Media Properties window where I can enter relevant information such as caption, description, date, reference number.

This census image is now attached to the Source record for the census Fact.  Note that it is also possible to attach the census image to the Census Fact directly.  To do this, I would click the box under the small camera icon on the line corresponding to the Census Fact on the Edit Person screen. (See the red circle is in the picture below.  That area is blank before adding the image and contains a green check mark  after adding the image.) I don’t know that attaching the image to the fact is better or worse than attaching the image to the source for that fact.  In this case, I have done both.  This does not increase the size of my RM database significantly, because RM just stores a pointer to the image on my computer’s hard drive.

Now that the census fact is properly documented for Nicholas Huber, I’d like to add the same census fact to the other three family members.  To do this, I click on the 1910 census fact in Nicholas’ “Edit Person” window and then click on the “Share” button.

The “Select People” window allows me to choose the individuals who will share this census fact.

A review window allows me to review those who will share this fact and add or remove people as needed.  Note that people added here must already be in the database.  It is not possible to add a “new” person (e.g. the baby who shows up for the first time in this census or the newly found mother-in-law now living with the family) from this window.  In such cases, the new person should probably be added to the database before doing the fact sharing.

After I complete this operation by clicking “OK,” I can check to see that this 1910 census fact has been shared with the other family members.  Below is a snapshot of Grandma Ida’s facts.  The shared 1910 census fact has a special icon to indicate that it is shared.

The entering of the transcription and attaching an image to the census fact was easy to do.  RM makes it simple to share a census fact from one person with others in the database.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Beth Weiland Benko

Genealogy Software Comparison, Part 3d: Citing a Census Source – Summary

In the last few posts, I have reviewed adding a census source citation in RootsMagic (RM), Family Tree Maker (FTM), and Legacy Family Tree (LFT).  I will give a summary of my experiences below.

In order to provide a thorough analysis of each program’s capabilities, I am going to take a somewhat scholarly approach to the task of developing source citations.  First, it is necessary to clearly state some definitions.  Elizabeth Shown Mills has published single page quick sheet that summarizes the research process and defines the relevant terms.

SOURCES:  Artifacts or books, digital files, documents, films, people, recordings, websites, etc.

INFORMATION: Statements or raw data offered by a source.

EVIDENCE: INFORMATION that is relevant to the research problem.

SOURCES provide INFORMATION from which we select EVIDENCE for ANALYSIS.1

A Citation is a reference to the source, with details (e.g. page number). ”Citations are statements in which we identify our source or sources for a particular assertion.”  Citations appear in Source Lists (bibliographies) and in Reference Notes, either as footnotes or endnotes.  Each citation type has a specific format.2

All three programs use the concept of a master source and source detail (RM and LFT).  FTM uses the terms source and citation detail, but it is the same idea. This concept was very confusing to me the first time that I encountered it.  How does one know where the dividing line is between the master source and the source detail?

The answer is easy in the case of a book:  the source detail is the page number and everything else (author, title, publisher, etc.) is part of the master source.  Census records are a bit more complicated.  It is easy to assume that the year and type of census (e.g. “1920 United States Federal Census”) should be part of the master source and that sheet and page number, dwelling number, family number and person’s name should be in the source detail.  What about city/township, county, state and enumeration district?  I struggled with this for a while.

RootsMagic provides an excellent explanation of this concept in their free, online webinar:  “Sources, Citations and Documentation with RootsMagic” at  I recommend it for anyone who seeks clarity on this issue.

In each of the three programs, I entered a census “fact” or “event” for my grandparents using the 1920 census as my source.  I used a template in each program to construct a citation.  I compared the citation that each software program produced to a citation I built “by hand” using Evidence Explained as my reference.  Here are the results.

Family Tree Maker

1920 U.S. census, population schedule, Ohio, Hamilton County, Cincinnati, Ward 9, enumeration district (ED) 163, p. 232,  sheet 4A, dwelling 51, family 83, Ida T. Ulrich; NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1390; digital image, (


1920 U.S. census, Hamilton County, Ohio, population schedule, Cincinnati, Ward 9, enumeration district (ED) 163, p. 232 (stamped), sheet 4A, dwelling 51, family 83, Ida T. Ulrich; digital images, ( : accessed 17 September 2012); National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 1390.

Legacy Family Tree

1920 U.S. census, Hamilton Co., Ohio, population schedule, Cincinnati, Ward 9, enumeration district (ED) 163, sheet 4A, p. 232 (stamped), dwelling 51, family 83, Ida T. Ulrich; digital images, ( : accessed 1 Oct 2012); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T625, roll 1390.

Citation based on Evidence Explained3

1920 U.S. census, Hamilton County, Ohio, population schedule, Cincinnati, Ward 9, Enumeration District (ED) 163, p. 232 (stamped), sheet 4A, dwelling 51, family 83, Ida T. Ulrich; digital image, ( : accessed 1 October 2012); citing National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 1390.


RM and LFT provided individual fields for each piece of data contained in the details of the citation.  Each field had help text to guide the user.  The citation produced by RM was identical to the citation I constructed by hand.  The LFT citation differed one small detail: sheet number was before page number instead of the other way around.  Both RM and LFT produce a Reference Note and Source List (bibliography) form of the citation.

FTM did not give field-by-field data entry for the detailed information.  It provided a single free-form text box for data entry along with help text enumerating the information to be entered.  This method puts added burden on the user to enter all the correct data.  In addition to being more prone to data entry errors, the resulting citation does not closely match the citation prescribed by Evidence Explained.  FTM produces only a Reference Note citation and not a Source List (or bibliography) form.

Based on my experience, the winner in the census record source citation category is RootsMagic, followed closely by Legacy Family Tree.  Family Tree Maker was a distant third as judged on ease of data entry and composition of the resulting citation.

1Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Analysis: A Process Map; digital image at Historic Pathways ( : 10 October 2012.

2Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007), 42-43.

3Ibid, 240.

Genealogy Software Comparison, Part 3a: Citing a Census Source – RM

In preparation for delivering some help sessions at my local genealogical society, I am working to become proficient in three genealogy applications:  Family Tree Maker (FTM), RootsMagic  (RM) and Legacy Family Tree (LFT).  I will be using various features of each package and blogging about my experiences.  The “Part 3” posts will look at adding a source citation for a census record.  I will use RM in Part 3a; FTM in Part 3b; and LFT in Part 3c.  If you’d like to start at the beginning, the first post in the series is:

Census records are fundamental to searching for information on our ancestors.  I like to think of the every-10-year snapshot as a framework for our their lives, a skeleton upon which to hang stories and details that flesh out the family history.

I started with an image from of the 1920 census for my grandma Ida and her husband Arthur.  The census was taken on 6 Jan 1920, less than a year after they were married.

1920 Census for Arthur & Ida T. UlrichClick on any image to see a larger view.

I added a “census” fact for Ida and entered the details on her Edit Person screen.  Then I clicked on the “Sources” button and then “Add new source” to enter the source citation.  I selected “Census, U. S. Federal (Online images)” from the extensive list of source types.  When I selected a particular source type, the right hand panel displayed an explanation of that type of source and gave a reference to Elizabeth Shown Mills’ book Evidence Explained (EE) and sometimes a reference to her QuickSheet Citing Online Historical Resources (QC). (See the green box I put around this reference in the picture below.) This is wonderful information for the genealogist who is serious about source citations.


After I selected the desired source type and clicked OK, I entered the Master Source and Detail information on the Edit Source screen.  The screen had a field for each desired or required field, along with help text in each field.These fields are specific to the source type selected, so that a user sees only what is needed for each type of source.

RM - Master SourceAs I entered each piece of information into the screen, the resulting source citation appeared on the right hand side in the three formats: Footnote, Short Footnote and Bibliography (or Source List).  Below is the Edit Source with all the pertinent data entered.

RM - Eidt Source

The resulting source citation (Footnote) for Ida and Arthur’s entry in the 1920 census is: “1920 U.S. census, Hamilton County, Ohio, population schedule, Cincinnati, Ward 9, enumeration district (ED) 163, p. 232 (stamped), sheet 4A, 51, family 83, Ida T. Ulrich; digital images, ( : accessed 17 September 2012); National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 1390.”

This is the citation I was hoping for and it agrees with EE p. 240 and the example given on QC’s cover page, as promised.  It was easy to follow the screen flow and the field help to construct the source citation desired.

Next:  The same exercise using Family Tree Maker (FTM).


Genealogy Software Comparison, Part 2a: Starting a Family Tree – RM

In preparation for delivering some help sessions at my local genealogical society, I am working to become proficient in three genealogy applications:  Family Tree Maker (FTM), RootsMagic  (RM) and Legacy Family Tree (LFT).   I used an early version of FTM in the late 90’s and I’ve been a user of LFT since 2008.  RM is completely new to me.   RootsMagic and Legacy FamilyTree offer a free version of their software with a limited set of features.  Since FTM does not have a similar free option, I decided to use the paid versions of each software package. This series of blogs will document my impressions of and experiences with these three software packages.

This post will review creating a family tree file and entering a bit of data in RootsMagic.  Subsequent posts will review the same process in Family Tree Maker and Legacy Family Tree.  I entered a snippet of the maternal side of my family tree:  my grandmother, her husband and her parents.  For each person, I entered dates and places for birth, marriage, death and burial.

RootsMagic, version –

I started the RootsMagic application and chose the option to create a new file.  I enter file name (RM-test) and choose the location on my hard drive for the data file.  I started tree with Ida Theresa Huber , my maternal grandmother.  I entered her birth date and then her birth place as “Cincinnati, Hamilton Co., Ohio, USA.  I am in the habit of putting “Co.” after the name of the county.  Experienced genealogists would recognize the leading comma in “, Hamilton, Ohio, USA” as a placeholder for the missing city name.  Others may mistake the comma as a typo and interpret the location to be the city of Hamilton, Ohio.  Thus, my preference is to put the “Co.” after the county name.

However, this practice triggered County Check in RM.

I decided that I would like the benefit of county check so I gave up “Co.” after the county name and accepted the alternative offered.  I also clicked on “More Info” and saw some historical information on the Hamilton County.  I was also offered “Online Info” button which took me to the FamilySearch Wiki page for Hamilton County, Ohio, and “Online Map” which took me to a historical map where I could enter the date and see the configuration of Ohio counties on that date.  This is a site that will be very useful in determining the correct locations for ancestral events.

Locations are remembered in the software.  The user only needs to begin typing and then select the proper location from the list of previously entered locations.  As there are usually many events that take place in each location, this saves typing and helps eliminate typos – provided one is careful the first time.

I added my grandmother and her parents.  The workflow was very intuitive.  I added her father, then her mother, then their marriage information.  I then entered a marriage event for my grandmother.  I was prompted to enter a new person or select an existing person as her spouse.

When I entered the burial location for each individual, there was just a single text entry field.  I typed the name of the cemetery in parentheses after the city name.

I reviewed the person’s information and noticed that there is a field called “Place details” that might more appropriately contain the name of the cemetery.

I changed the entry for the burial location, separating the cemetery name from city, county, state and country information.  I think the resulting sentence reads more naturally now.

Overall, the initial data entry experience with RM was very intuitive and logical.  I especially liked that I could easily navigate to historical county information in just a couple of “clicks.”



RootsMagic was relatively easy to use for basic data entry.  The program led me through the input process for the four family members in a way that was logical and intuitive.

Next time:  Data entry in Family Tree Maker