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Creating a Census Research Report

Have you ever asked for one of these census reports?

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 following report.

First, find a report which allows us to output each Census event for all desired people, whether Principal or Witness.

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.

Report Filter

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 Miscellaneous Tab.
  • 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 obvious.

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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