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Creating a Census Research Report
Have you ever asked for one of these census reports?
- "I'm tracing all the descendants of my great-great-great grandfather. I'd like
a report that gives me the census history of each of the descendants. This might help me see
quickly which people are missing."
- "I know I've looked at this census before. How can I keep track of what I've searched and
what I haven't?"
One of the frustrating aspects of TMG is its occasional inability to provide reports which
are invaluable in continuing research. Censuses are one of the fundamental sources used, especially
in American research, and a good census history report should be one of the sample reports
provided in TMG. Unfortunately, it can be a difficult report to achieve.
My picture of this report is a spread sheet containing columns with the names of each
desired individual (including married names of women) and every possible census year for those
people. The column values would contain the census location for each year for each person. This
way, any missing census information would be readily obvious; and I could sort the report by
surname, or group it by family. Also, printed in landscape mode, the report would be fairly
compact and easy to take with me on research trips to the National Archives. Can we create this
report? Well, I can't; but I can keep track of a research group's census history with the
First, find a report which allows us to output each Census event for all desired people, whether
Principal or Witness.
- Census events are not an option in the List of People report.
- A List of Events report might be possible, but, among other problems, will not
output events for witnesses. Since most of the individuals will not be either Principal in a
Census event, this report is not the best choice.
- Reports which allow inclusion of Witness events are the various Journal Reports and the
Individual Narrative and Individual Detail Reports. Since the Individual Detail
Report comes closest to a tabular output, that's the report I usually use for my census research
Creating an Individual Detail Report
There is one very irritating aspect of the Individual Detail Report. If you
choose to print an Individual Detail Report, you will get one page
per person! In other words, you may use a lot of paper. Send this
report to a Word Processor file.
Report Definition Screen
- Select Individual Detail report
- Add a new configuration; mine is simply "Census History"
- Since I want the research status of a group of people, select Filtered group.
- I send my report to a Word file.
The report filter determines the people covered by this report. There are several common census research
groups: all people in a county in a given year; all people of a given surname; a progenitor and descendants
over a given time period. This filter is based on the latter group, one of my most common.
- ID number identifies the progenitor. The [?] allows me to specify a different number when the
report is rerun. The Connector is OR; the filter will select the progenitor and everyone who meets
the criterion on the next line.
- The same ID number is entered in the next line of the filter. This identifies all descendants and adds
them to the group. The next Connector is AND.
- The current group is now analyzed according to year of birth. Why include someone born after 1930? They
would not appear in any census now open to the public? An earlier year of birth might also be chosen to
exclude people only found in later censuses.
- I check "Add Spouses". This includes all spouses of those people who have met the filter criteria.
Report Options: Tags Tab
Report options that should be checked include Tags, Sources, Memos, and Miscellaneous. Because this
report is being sent to a file, an Index can be included, if desired.
- Selected Tags should include Birth and Death and all Census Tags. If you intend to track negative research
results, you should also create a Research Tag, or some equivalent. Select
that tag also. To make index searches simple, include Name-Marr as well, to search for women's married names.
- Event tag labels, dates, and places are automatically included in the report. Add Memo to include
census transcriptions and research progress notes. Add sources (as endnotes), if desired.
- This report can be sorted by several fields including surname and date of birth. Consider including
an index if the report is large and you sort by something other than surname.
Report Options: Miscellaneous Tab
- Because I exclude so many fields in my data base, I always check "Show excluded data" on the
- The Individual Detail Report has a feature that's very useful for this report. It includes
the names of the parents.
- Other potentially helpful options include "Embed sentence [M]emo", "Flags", and "Blanks for
missing data". For those TMG users who have created a separate event tag for every census year, the
latter option should be checked. Now, the report will appear with the missing census year(s) glaringly
You will print this report with your word processor program. My advice is to search for all
page breaks and replace them with carriage returns. You will also want to delete the annoying
title headers that appear before each person's information.
This report only touches on a report that might help answer the second question: "I know I've looked
at this census before. How can I keep track of what I've searched and what I haven't?" For additional
data entry suggestions and research reports, continue to:
Emphasizing the Research in a Census Research Report
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