TMG News

A Publication for users of The Master Genealogist®

Volume 2, Number 3,  Fall 1995

Editor: Lissa Soergel
HTML Design: Laura Wallace




GENTECH Conference Plano, Texas January 26-27, 1996
National Genealogical Society Conference Nashville, Tennessee May 8-11, 1996
Federation of Genealogical Societies Rochester, New York October 14-17, 1996


TMG v1.2a Update Released

TMG/DOS v1.2a has been released! All registered TMG users have been notified of its availability (free or for the cost of a phone call) from the various electronic services and other sources. If you own TMG but did not receive a notice of the v1.2a update in the mail, then please contact us with your serial number from your original Installation Disk #1 to ensure that you receive future news and product announcements.

By popular request, we also offer any registered user the opportunity to consolidate the many update disks since TMG's original release. A complete set of five TMG v1.2a installation disks can be ordered for $10 plus shipping from Wholly Genes sales department at 1-800-982-2103 (or 1-818-998-2575).

TMG v1.2a is provided in response to your requests for even more power and flexibility!. While there were some cosmetic changes and minor bug fixes, most of the new features in TMG v1.2a are related to the Custom Report Writer (CRW). We've added a Reverse Register Report, a List of Names report, a columnar Ahnentafel, and too many other enhancements to list here. Be sure to read CHNG12A.DOC for a more comprehensive list of changes in this latest release.

We are proud to say that The Master Genealogist now offers one of the widest varieties of report formats in the industry! With an unprecedented array of output options for each report type, extensive font control, powerful page formatting features, and the

design-and-save customization of the CRW, the possibilities are truly unlimited! And when it comes to publication-quality output, nothing comes close to TMG, with its sentence-by-sentence narrative control, complete source output (long and short footnotes, ibid., and bibliography), multiple indexes, native support for more than 50 word processor formats, and the new Master Document feature!

Whether you are preparing for a research trip, corresponding with relatives, or compiling a book, TMG provides all the right tools to get the job done! If you haven't yet discovered how to put the Custom Report Writer to work for you, this issue of TMG News offers a good primer to get you started.

Gathering Data at a Family Reunion

Use of Research Tasks

by B. A. Franklin
Topeka, Kansas

I tend to go to paper to record genealogical data if I am at a family reunion where I will be inundated rapidly with lots of data. I cannot type dictation rapidly or accurately. I do take my laptop to the reunion to answer random questions. I have given up on entering the data on the spot*I am simply too slow. I tried using family group sheets, but many people not into genealogy seem confused at times by them. I do post a modified register printout, with all 5 indexes mentioned, on the wall and let people correct and add information, as long as they tell me who is writing the material. (TMG allows women to be indexed by their married names as well as their maiden names, which helps in cases like this, since with time women become known only by their married names.)

I have had the most success recently with the Research Task function in The Master Genealogist. With any event, any person, any source, or any repository, I can immediately generate a Research Task by pressing F12. I can record my question, keywords, expenses, start date, due date, memos, etc., on the Task Entry Screen. The recording of any number of keywords in the keyword field allows for sorting and filtering later, so I usually put in a keyword which identifies the branch of the family I am working on at the time and a keyword of the person(s) I am most likely to ask. So I may have, for example:

Thomas Edison branch; Betty Edison.

Then when I go to the reunion, I just print out the task list for each branch and each person. The printout is configurable to include some or all of the data in the task. The questions are in plain (I hope) English, and persons answer each question on the spot. There are no confusing forms, but simply: Where and when was Uncle Tom Edison born? To date, this has proven successful. No forms or printouts to wade through: just answer the question. I like this function, because I can generate the task at the time I find the deficiency and not have to worry about remembering to ask for the information later. I tend to keep the tasks limited to simple questions. That is, I favor many simple questions over one complex question with multiple components. People seem to have more a sense of accomplishment if they answer 8 out of 10 questions correctly, rather than answer one complex question only partially, even though dealing with the same amount of information overall.

Because the Person View shows the information on an individual in chronological order, it's easy to see at a glance if a certain event is missing. The standard BMDB information is obvious, but all the other 100+ events (including or excluding births of children*your choice) are also displayed in the listing, IF information has been entered in them. If something is missing, I generate a task immediately while I am thinking about it, rather than try to recall the missing data while at the reunion.

More Ideas for Family Reunions

Computer Creativity for Family Reunions, a new book by Sandra MacLean Clunies, CGRS, is now available from the New England Historic Genealogical Society, 101 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02116- 3007. Softcover. Published by the New England Computer Genealogists, 1995. 62 pp. Price $12.95 (plus 5% sales tax for Mass. residents). Add postage & handling U.S. $3.50; Canada $4.50; other $7. Contains TMG examples.

Return to Table of Contents.

TMG Online:
Source Abbreviation Systems

The following discussion took place on the TMG-L mailing list on Internet.

From: Timothy B. Doyle
Subject: How I handle sources

Since TMG is able to handle a large number of sources, I try to make each book, letter, birth certificate, etc., a separate source. I do draw the line and lump together things like census records (by city or township) or church records (when I have extracted all members of a given surname from them). In cases like these, I create a separate source for each grouping of records. How do I define a grouping? If a film has baptism and death records, but they are not intermingled, I would create separate sources for each (baptism and death). If a set of records spanned two or more microfilms, I would make separate sources for each film number. I usually have a separate source for each city or town in census records.

The key to being able to find these sources later is the abbreviation field. I have created my own system of what to enter for the abbreviations, and it allows me to easily access the records. Here's what I do:

Census records are listed with year, state, county, city as follows:

1790C PA Phil Philadelphia

1850C NY Broo Colesville

1860C PA Phil Philadelphia

1860C PA York York City

Note how I abbreviate the state and county to make the list appear columnar and thus more readable.

Letters and Interviews (in person or over the telephone) are listed like this:

INT Smith, John 940704

INT Smith, John 951225

LTR Cherdron, Walter 921230

LTR Cherdron, Walter 930125

LTR Smith, John 940727

I can easily search for any given interview or letter by typing INT or LTR and then the surname of the sender. I can then view a chronological list of letters that I received from that person because I have entered the date (flushed to the right so they all line up).

Books are prefixed with 'BOO' and then the title:

BOO A History of Modern Germany

BOO Germans to America

Baptism, Birth, Marriage, Death records are listed as follows:

BAP Otterb 1650-1716 German

BAP Otterb 1657-1685 French

BAP Otterb 1679-1724 French

BAP Psycho 1722-1808

BIR Doyle, Timothy B.

BIR Doyle, William T.

BIR Otterb 1831-1848

BIR Otterb 1841-1852

MAR Otterb 1700-1710 German

DEA Otterb 1678-1755 French

Note how I again abbreviate the city so things appear in columns. I could have added country/state/county abbreviations before the city, but if I have extracted the records, I am usually pretty familiar with the location of the city.

I handle other records similarly. Here are a few other 'prefixes' that I have used:

IGI - for the IGI *

NEW - Newspapers

OBI - Obituaries

PRO - Probate records

MSC - Miscellaneous

* O.K., I admit to having references to the IGI in my database, but I PROMISE to check the original sources, just as soon as I can!

In general, I just make up the prefixes as I go along. Since they are just "for me," I categorize my sources as I would like to find them. I'm not saying that this method is for everyone, but since the abbreviation field is "ours," we can use it to categorize our sources as WE want to. By using this method, my source listing appears orderly, and I rarely have any problems finding a source amongst the 640 that I currently have entered.


From: Kelly Pease

We must think a lot alike! I use much the same things *only a little different abbreviations (i.e., OB=obituary, BK=Book, PB=Probate, etc.). One thing that I have started doing for books is to specify what type of book. For instance, for a family history on the Folsom family I use BK,FAM,Folsom. For a book on cemetery records in Delaware Co., OH, I use BK,CEM,OH,DelCo. For a history of Delaware Co. I use BK,Hx,OH,DelCo. Originally I didn't do this. but now I've decided it is easier to find on the Master Source List.

Now watch me get "blasted" for this. I use IGI,Sub for submitted records and IGI,Ext for extracted records and sometimes I don't bother to check the original records for extractions!

From: Jeri Steele

[after quoting from Tim Doyle's message]

I have to give a resounding thumbs up to this approach! I too use the abbreviation field to make my sources manageable. However, I think more on locality in a way to locate them in the list so I have:

Smth Co TX Marr

Smth Co TX 1870 cen

Smth Co TX Minutes

Smth Co TX Probate

Smth Co TX Court rec

This doesn't prevent me from specifying the "proper" title of a book or courthouse records in the full description; it just places them together in the Master Source List, and by typing "Sm," the important sources are on the screen ready to select.

Return to Table of Contents.

TMG Hot Keys

  F1 = Help Ctrl+F1 = Help For...
  F2 = Search
  F3 = Repeat Ctrl+F3 = Repeat List
  F4 = Add
  F5 = Edit
  F6 = Delete
  F7 = Memo
  F8 = Mark
  F9 = Change
F10 = Save
F11 = Calendar
F12 = Research Log Ctrl+F12 = Exhibit Log
ESC = Cancel

Return to Table of Contents.

Beginner's Corner:

Using the Custom Report Writer

by Bob Velke
President, Wholly Genes, Inc.

This article will summarize the basic design and functionality of the Custom Report Writer (CRW) for the benefit of those who may have difficulty getting started with it.

How Do I Access the CRW?

From any View screen (Person, Family, or Tree), press ALT+R to access the Reports menu and press Enter to access the CRW. (Note that the FIRST time you access the CRW, you will also be asked to identify your printer.) This will provide access to the CRW Log.

What is the CRW Log?

The CRW Log is an alphabetical list of all the report definitions which have been defined for use. A "report definition" is a particular configuration or set of options (report type, filter, output format, etc.) that has been defined and saved with a descriptive name. TMG supports 28 different report types (pedigree, ahnentafel, etc.), but there is no limit to the number of "report definitions" or configurations which can be designed around them.

For instance, you might design five different varieties of the Family Group Sheet for different purposes (work sheet, distribution at a family reunion,publication, etc.), and they would be configured to output different levels of detail, with or without source citations, etc. Each report definition can be saved on the CRW Log with a unique name. Once created by the user, a report definition remains on the CRW Log and can be executed at any time with one keystroke. When you first enter the Custom Report Writer (CRW), the only report definitions listed are those supplied with the program, which have the word "*SAMPLE" at the end of the Report Name. The most common report options are demonstrated with these sample report definitions. But since the CRW has hundreds of options under the hood, these sample reports just scratch the surface. As you begin to explore the options and design your own reports to tap the full power of the CRW, your named configurations will also be listed on the log.

The column of the log labeled "Output Type" indicates the destination of this report the last time it was used. You need not be concerned with this when choosing what report to generate, as you will always have the opportunity to change it for each report. Later, if you find you often use the same report with different destinations, you may choose to have a different listing for each. Ignore this column for now.

The "Focus" column (new in v1.2a) shows what records the report was designed to include. This may be "All" (all records in the data set), "Filter" (a selected group of records), "Prompt" (a particular person is identified at the time the report is run), or a number (the ID number of the focus person, e.g., 19, is built into the report).

What Can I Do from the CRW Log?

Of course, the objective of the Custom Report Writer is to generate reports. For the novice user, the simplest approach is to highlight a "SAMPLE" report definition and press ALT+F, P. These SAMPLE report definitions assume that you are using the SAMPLE data set. In some cases, the reports are designed around a particular person or group (e.g., "List of People - Clergy"). If you attempt to run such a SAMPLE report definition on your own data, you will be warned that the results may not be especially useful or enlightening.

When you generate (or "print") any report, you are presented with the "Job Manager" screen, which offers an opportunity to specify the output destination (screen, printer, or file), as well as more advanced options like footnotes and bibliography. For SAMPLE reports, just choose <Continue>: the appropriate options have been pre-configured for you.

That's all there is to generating a SAMPLE report. After you have explored some of the SAMPLE report definitions, you'll be ready to look deeper at the customization options. You can do any of the following: 1) define a completely NEW report; 2) edit a report definition to suit your preference; 3) copy an existing report definition; or 4) delete a report definition. Each of these is described on the next page.

1. Define a completely NEW report .

Press ALT+N and then Enter (or access the New menu) to define a new report. You will be provided a list of the report types which TMG supports. Scroll up and down to look over this list. Then, for this example, highlight "List of People" and press Enter to access the Report Definition Screen. This screen is the control center for customizing the new report definition.

Give this new report definition a REPORT NAME of "My First Customized List of People." (Remember that this name will later be used to identify this report definition on the CRW Log.) You can now modify the focus or setup options for this report:


This identifies the subject(s) of the report. In this example, that is the group of people to be listed. Notice that you can list a "Filtered Group" of people or you can list "All People."

A "Filtered Group" is a subset of people who qualify for a condition or set of conditions which you would specify. For instance, you could limit the output to men who were born between 1800 and 1840. The filter conditions can be specified by selecting the <Define> button. There are many tools to define simple or complicated filters. They will be the subject of a future TMG News article. See also the Reference Manual (pages 45-49) or press F1 for help in defining filters.

But for now, set the focus to "All People" by clicking on that option with the mouse or highlighting it with the Tab key and pressing Enter.

Notice that other report types would activate different types of focus options. A Descendancy Narrative report, for instance, can be focused on a particular "Person Number" (e.g., Descendants of #247, John Smith). In some cases, the report can be designed to ask the user to identify the focus person at the time the report is generated ("Prompt When Generated").


Each report type has a series of options (accessed through the <Setup> button) which control the content and format of the report. The number and type of Setup options varies by the report type. For instance, the Setup options for a Family Group Sheet control the type and amount of data to be printed for each person.

The Setup options for a List of People report (as in our example) control the name, content, and width of the output columns. By default, those options are blank, but default values will be substituted if you do not enter your own. For now, do not modify the <Setup> options for this example.

To save the settings of the Report Definition Screen, access the File menu with ALT+F and choose Save. Notice that the report you designed is now on the CRW Log and can be generated, modified, or deleted at any time.

Access the File menu again and "Print" the report (ALT+F, P). The hot key is F8.

2. Edit a report definition to suit your preference.

To modify a report definition, simply highlight it on the CRW Log and press Enter or F5 (or access the Edit menu with the mouse). This will reveal the Report Definition Screen as described above. You can make any changes to the focus, filter, or setup options and press F10 to save those changes.

As a rule, we strongly discourage editing the SAMPLE report definitions, which are designed to demonstrate specific features and option settings. If you want to make changes to such a report, we recommend that you first copy and rename it, as described in the next section.

3. Copy a report definition.

While highlighting the name of the report to be copied, access the Copy menu (or press ALT+C) and choose "Copy this Report." A copy of the report definition will be added to the CRW Log. Highlight and edit the copy to give it a unique name and to make any desired changes, as described above.

4. Delete a report.

To permanently remove a report definition from the CRW Log, highlight it and press F6 (or choose "Delete this Report" from the Del menu). Again, we strongly discourage the deletion of SAMPLE report definitions, as they may serve as a valuable teaching aid at a later time.

Throughout this process, notice that the standard TMG hot keys apply: F1 for Help, F4 for new, F5 to edit, F6 to delete, F8 to generate, and F10 to save.

After a few trial runs, you should have a good understanding of the basic design of the CRW and you should be well on your way toward tapping its full potential. But don't be intimidated by the power and flexibility of the CRW. Your first report is just a few keystrokes away!

Return to Table of Contents.

File Access Denied?

A few users have reported a "File Access Denied" error when running TMG under Windows for Workgroups 3.11. The same users reported that the error did not occur when running TMG directly from DOS. There seems to be an incompatibility between TMG and some versions of VSHARE.386 provided with Windows for Workgroups.

If you encounter this error, check the [386Enh] section of your


file for a reference to


and redirect it to the copy of VSHARE.386 which we provide in the \TMG1\GOODIES subdirectory (e.g.,


That should overcome the conflict.

Return to Table of Contents.

Advanced Users

Creating a Personal Timeline

by Lee Hoffman
Mt. Sterling, Kentucky

A timeline can be instrumental in helping your genealogy research. TMG allows you to create new timeline files as you wish. However, you must create the file and enter each timeline date and event one at a time. This may be all right for information such as county and state formations, but for data that you have already entered in your data set, you hate to enter it through your keyboard all over again.

Take heart: a custom timeline can be created from your own data set and used to see who else in your ancestry (both direct and indirect) was doing what at the same time. The custom timeline can be as simple or as complex, and can include as much or as little, as you wish. Naturally, the more you include in the timeline, the more work it will involve. On the other hand, it may provide the extra research tool to help you find that elusive piece of information you need.

You will need one of the popular xBase database managers (such as Foxpro, dBASE II, or dBASE IV) to do the actual timeline database creation. If you don't have one, maybe you can ask a favor of a friend who does have one. In the meantime, most of the necessary work can be done by you with what you already have*TMG and a text editor, such as the DOS editor.

There are three major parts to the procedure. The first part requires the creation of a List of Events (LOE) report file based on the criteria you select from TMG. Part two uses an editor to re-arrange the report file. Part three creates the final timeline files (there are three files for each timeline), using the database manager.

1. Creating the List of Events is the easiest part. You may already have done this many times; but with output going to your printer and/or in a different sequence. I wanted a timeline of all Hoffman births, so I created one this way:

  • Date -Year
  • Date - Month
  • Date - Day
  • Tag Type Label
  • Prin1 Given Last

Depending on whether you want to include marriage or other tags that normally contain two principals, you can omit the Prin2 data. The Memo field may or may not be desired*remember, it is where occupations, employers, etc., are located. If you want to include more data, you can use Date(thin) in place of the separate Year, Month, and Day items, but you will have to remember to adjust the file later for the date and split the Date(thin) field into its subfields.

2. After the file has been generated, it must be edited to convert it to the proper format for use as input to your xBase language. You can use any editor for this step. The TMG editor and the DOS editor are two possibilities, as is the Notepad editor of Windows. You can use your favorite word processor and save the file in ASCII (DOS Text) format. I used WordStar in its non- document mode.

Note: Be sure that your editor will work with the size file that you have. The Windows Notepad editor, for instance, is known to have file size limitations.

The input to your database manager needs to be a file with four data fields or columns:

Data Field Data Data Type Data Length Decimal Places


Year Numeric 4 0
2 Month Numeric 2 0
3 Day Numeric 2 0
4 Event Character 160 -

The data length in column four should be adjusted to the length of the longest amount of data that you will have.

The following are some sample data lines as they might appear in the LOE file as generated by TMG using the criteria shown above in step 1:

T,"1821","06","25","Birth","(Judge) John Stringer HOFFMAN"

T,"1758","00","00","Birth","James HOFFMAN"

T,"1712","09","22","Birth","Hans Henrich HUFFMAN"

Shown below are these same data lines as edited for input to my database management program:

1821,06,25,"Birth of (Judge) John Stringer HOFFMAN"

1758,00,00,"Birth of James HOFFMAN"

1712,09,22,"Birth of Hans Henrich HUFFMAN"

Because the information in the Event field of a timeline is often in a sentence format, I have edited all the information after the date fields into a phrase or sentence of sorts. I have removed all quotation marks except for those at the beginning and end of the phrase or sentence. Insofar as the sentence is concerned, you may or may not wish to take the pains to create sentences that are grammatically correct. This all depends of your intended use of the timeline. If the timeline is one that you might wish to share with others, you might want to take more time and create

grammatically correct sentences. On the other hand, if you want something "quick and dirty" just for your own use, you might simply remove the extra quotation marks, leaving only the ones at the beginning and end of the Event field. (You can use Global Change with Confirm to delete the unneeded quotes.)

Note that the date fields must NOT have quotation marks

surrounding them. Remember at this point that you must have three fields for your date information, in the order specified. So if you generated the date with Date(thin), you must edit accordingly. You may also need to remove other commas within the sentence, depending on your database management program and the information that appears in your LOE file.

3. After editing the file, go into your xBase database manager, create the final files, and import the edited file. While each xBase database management is slightly different, many will produce a dBase III compatible file. I used Foxpro to create the files as follows:

The word "Memo" is the way your database manager tells you that the information is now stored in a separate file. As the sentences are moved over to the separate file, the content of each Event field is replaced with the word "Memo." If a particular record happens to have an empty event field, the first letter would not be capitalized but would appear as "memo.".

You might want to check a few records to make sure the information is in the Memo. Move your cursor to the Event field, highlight the word "Memo," and press Enter. You should then be presented with a "window" containing your actual event data. When you are finished reviewing the event data in the "memo," close the "window" and continue browsing.


This creates the final files in dBase format.

At this point you will have created four files: a .DBF file and an .FPT file with your temporary filename, and a .DBF file and a .DBT file with your final filename. You may now delete the two files with the temporary filename.

Copy or move the .DBF and .DBT files named with your final filename to your TMG TIMELINE subdirectory.

Enter TMG as usual and select your new timeline file. TMG will create the third file (the index [*.CDX] file) as needed. If you are on the Person View, you will see entries from the new timeline appear based on the rules of TMG as you have selected them. You now have a new timeline file that you can use!

Return to Table of Contents.

Timelines Available

See the Timelines section on the main TMG page

Don't forget to send us any timelines that you develop if they might be of interest to others.  We'd be delighted to be able to add to this list!  With your permission, we may also include it in future shipments of TMG!


TMG NEWS is an exclusive newsletter for registered users of The Master Genealogist.

The text of this newsletter can be downloaded free from our BBS or at regular online rates from Compuserve (GO GENSUP) and other electronic services.

Hard copy subscriptions are available by U. S. Mail for $15.00 for four issues per year. Add $5.00 postage for Canada and Mexico; $10.00 for other countries.

This electronic version of TMG News may be distributed freely provided that it is copied in its entirety and distributed only in electronic form. Subscriptions are available for printed copies.

Contents © 1995 Wholly Genes, Inc. All rights reserved. The Wholly Genes logo, The Master Genealogist, and TMG are trademarks of Wholly Genes, Inc. All other trademarks mentioned herein belong to their respective owners.

Return to Table of Contents.

Back to Laura's Main TMG Page.

L.A.W. 19 October 2000