Second Steps with GenDetective

Last week, I wrote about my very first foray with GenDetective. I had a number of questions, particularly why the report said no media files were attached. I mentioned last week that Sandy, the tech support person asked that I share my GEDCOM so that they could see what was going on. I sent it off and received a fairly lengthy reply, which I will share below.

I used my 5x great grandfather, Anders Molin of Sweden, as the subject of the report.

I decided to run a second report on someone much more recent – my grandfather, Vernon Tarbox Adams, as he was born, lived and died in the U.S. Choosing him might remove some of the expected problems with GenDetective in terms of not having to read foreign alphabet letters or to deal with colonial American double dating methods.

Here is a screen shot of Vernon’s report. Again, I’ve cropped the bottom, which has my phone number on it, and I haven’t printed the second page of the report to protect the privacy of the living, as his children are listed there.

Vernon Tarbox Adams
GenDetective Report

I have to be honest here and say that this report concerns me more than the first report of Anders Molin? Why? I have complete dates and personal documentation, i.e. birth, marriage and death certificates, for my grandparents. Yet, this report give April 1899 as his birth date. That was taken from the 1900 census, which not only incorrectly lists his birth – he was born 3 May 1899 – it also lists him as his parents’ DAUGHTER. Yet, it appears that GenDetective bypassed the exact birth date that I entered in my software program and used census information.

It also says the 1910 and 1940 censuses are missing. That isn’t true, either, since I went back and looked in the program from which I created the GEDCOM. Those censuses are, indeed, both attached to him. I saved all the census images the same way – without using source citation boxes built into the software – so why are two of the five censuses not showing up in his file?

Lastly, his death date is given only as DEC 1968, which I am sure was taken from the Social Security Death Index. His exact date of death, 7 December 1968, is also entered in my software program. Again, GenDetective appears to have bypassed information that I entered by hand.

I’m a bit disappointed in this second report. I realize that computer programs only do what they are programmed to do and GenDetective seems to only accept information that has been sourced using software citation templates.

Sourcing information is of paramount importance in documenting family history, but since my method has been to source my data within the notes portion of the program, it doesn’t mesh well with GenDetective.

Here is Sandy’s reply to my questions:

1. Dates for the dual calendar — this is an issue that we have not found an “ideal” solution to.
2. Vernon Adams having the wrong birth date. — Look at Vernon and you will see he has 5 different BIRTH events.  GenDetective picks one birthdate but there is no way to “guarantee” which date is picked.  This happens in FTM as you merge records from Ancestry in they create multiple events with differing dates based on the way the FTM merge of events works.  At this point we do not have a solution to deal with the issue, and even if you were to remove the “extra” events from your people as you use the merge functionality you will continue to get “new duplicate events”.
3. Mangled Swedish locations.  I know that exporting your GEDCOM file from FTM UTF-8 seems like the best character support, but it doesn’t really work, in practice.  If you use wordpad.exe to open/browse your GEDCOM file that you sent me, search for Sweden.  The first several locations appear correct, but about the 5th or 7th location you will start seeing mangled characters in the location name.  GenDetective can only deal with what it is provided.  Try exporting your file as ANSI or ASCII character sets and see if you get better results. (Doing this is beyond my capabilities, but I fully understand the mangled Swedish place names. This isn’t really an issue for me.)
4. Media files in Research Progress report.  In order for media files to show associated with each event, the files must be attached to the individual events.  GenDetective picks up and recognizes your media files (I misunderstood and thought it wasn’t picking up any media files).  If you go to the Create Reports tab and select:
a.  Tell me about my family
b.  My documentation
c.  Pick any of the following reports: My multimedia summary OR My supporting docs OR My documentation inventory
You will see that GenDetective does know about and recognize your media files, but since they are not associated with specific events in your family tree it has no way of “knowing” which files are supporting documentation for each event.
5. Census records, lack of recognition.  — This is a combination of issues.  In FTM these events are recorded by residence vs census.  GenDetective has a function where it “recognizes FTM created the GEDCOM file” and makes a behind the scenes switch.  This is not happening automatically, which means I need to make a code change for the latest versions of FTM.  However, the GOOD NEWS is you can manually make the change, which will address the issue until you take a new update of GenDetective.

I think for now, I will step away from GenDetective. When I have some time to create a new family tree using software citation boxes and implement a couple of Sandy’s suggestions, I will take another look at this program.


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