GEDitCOM II is a very flexible genealogy application, which means you have many options for how to document your research with sources such as census records. With all this freedom, however, your data can become disorganized if you do not choose a consistent method for various tasks. No one method is wrong, but this tutorial gives a very robust method for adding census detail to your files. The goal is to have lots of information (scanned image, text transcription, and source information) and to have that information readily available wherever it makes sense.
Finding a census record means you probably have obtained a scanned image of a census page. These images are available on many web sites (such as familysearch.org, Canadian public archives, ancestry.com, or findmypast.co). Once you have an image, you create one to three new records in your GEDitCOM II genealogy file:
Once the above records are done, the remaining steps are to link them to individuals and families in your file:
After entering some census events, you may want to find more census data to further your genealogy research. A good tool to proceed in this direction is to use the US-UK-Canadian Census Report Extension.
You have gone to the trouble to obtain an image of a census page; you might as well save it in a safe place along with your genealogy files. It can be saved with your GEDitCOM II data several ways; here is an easy one:
Reading census images can be a challenge, especially if it is a handwritten record. Many genealogists spend time going over such records, interpreting the handwriting, and writing down a text transcription. If you go to that trouble, it is good practice to document that work with a text transcription in your genealogy data. The simplest method is to:
Census records are usually in the form of a table of names and data. If you have some familiarity with editing
html content, you can use GEDitCOM II's advanced feature that allows
html content in notes. It is a great way to display a table and can even provide hyperlinks from the notes to each individual in the census. Furthermore, GEDitCOM II provides some tools to help in entering the
html content. Here is the process:
htmlcontent, name it with the text entered in step 2, and also insert that same text into a paragraph element (within <p>...</p> tags).
htmlcontent, you can always check your results by using the Command-R keyboard command, which toggles between editing and display of the
htmlelements by hand. Instead, you type in the text and then use a menu command to convert to a table. The Process is:
Name Relationship "Birth M/Y" Age Birthplace Occupation "Gerngross Geo" Husb "Nov 1858" 41 Germany Brewer Carrie Wife "Mar 1864" 36 Germany ""Do not worry about aligning columns (although you can enter extra spaces if you want to make it easier to track columns); all alignment is done in the next step using
htmldisplay. Hopefully it will be all correct. The most common error is improper alignment of the columns, such as missing columns or forgetting to enclose column data with spaces in quotes. You can either fix the problems by editing the
htmlcontent or undo the table conversion (with Command-Z), fix the plain text, and then convert to a new table. The later method is usually easier. The example text above will now render as a well-aligned table:
Name Relationship Birth M/Y Age Birthplace Occupation Gerngross Geo Husb Nov 1858 41 Germany Brewer Carrie Wife Mar 1864 36 Germany
<p>1900 US Census for Gerngross Family<br> Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Philadelphia City Ward 29<br> 1322 27th Street</p>Inserted text below the table could document other information not transcribed in the columns (such as race, sex (if not obvious), languages spoken, etc.).
htmlcontent in GEDitCOM II notes is that you can insert hyperlinks to records in the notes. To add links within the notes, use following steps:
htmlcontent (use Command-R to see it), that person's name can be clicked to open their individual record. You can repeat for any names in the census who are also in the genealogy file. You can also insert links to family records if desired, by selecting any text and using the "Insert Hyperlink to Family" menu command.
The first two steps in this tutorial create a multimedia object for the census scanned image and create a notes record with a text transcription, but census information is a source for your genealogy research. It should somehow be tied to a source record as well. You could create a new source record for every census page you find, but this approach may end up with too many source records and does not provide a good method to locate all the census information you have found for a given country and year. The method recommended here is to create one source record for each country and year (e.g., 1900 US Census, 1911 Irish Census, 1881 British Census, etc.). You can then attach all images and transcribed notes for that census to that single source. When viewing that source record, you can quickly see all the data you have found in the that census year. It may help visualize relationships between families. The process is:
Once the multimedia, note, and source records are done, you are ready to start attaching events to the individual and families in the census data. The first step is to open the record for the head of household individual and attach one event as follows:
The next step is to add census events to all other individual and families documented in the census. You do not have to repeat the steps in the previous section. Instead, you can use GEDitCOM II's feature to copy and paste events:
Once you have added some census information, you may want to add more. A good tool to help you decide where to look next is the "US-UK-Canadian Census Report" Extension in the "Reports" submenu of the Extensions menu. To use it select that Extension and then:
A census report will appear in a new window listing all individuals that might be in a census. It only lists individuals with known birth dates because otherwise there is no way to determine if they were alive on specific census dates. The table cells will be color coded:
The above method may seem like a lot of work, but it looks harder in a step-by-step tutorial then it is after you are familiar with the steps. The full process only involves creating three records and one census event and then copying the census event to all individuals and families in that census record. When you are done, the census details will be available from all individuals and families through their "Events" pane. If you want to see every one in your file in a particular census (e.g., the 1900 US Census), you can open the one source record and see all attached transcriptions and images. If you click the "Citing Records" button or use the View→Referenced By... menu command while viewing the source, you will see a list of everyone documented in that census.
This tutorial explains one method for documenting census records. You can devise your own (and GEDitCOM II provides many options). The method you choose, however, works best if it is consistent.