Change a fact type

I know how it is done. What I am unable to do is change a census(family) to census. I had the wife die and inadvertently clicked family. Not the biggest of details but one I’d like to change if Possible.

That’s really impossible to program. I know it’s frustrating, but there are deep and fundamental differences between individual fact types such as census and family fact types such as census (family) that cannot be reconciled.

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I would use the word “difficult”, not “impossible”. All the needed data to convert a family type event to two individual events is present but there are pointers to be changed and records to be added in various tables. It would be as difficult as this script for pre RM 7.5: Facts – Split Shared to Individual. Accommodating TreeShare and database changes in RM8 would add more difficulty!

I used “family” fact types for census records in my early days with RM7 because I thought that was the way it should be and then heard Bruce (I believe) in one of his online webinars saying that he never used them and recommended using the regular census type and so ever since I have avoided them, but I am having to gradually convert the hundreds I already have.

I would love for someone to explain what the purpose of the “family” fact type is and how it is better than sharing the regular fact with the spouse. For me being able to change from Family to Individual fact type would be amazing but I understand that it isn’t as simple as it looks.

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Family fact types are better thought of as Couple fact types than as Family fact types. They are intended for facts such as Marriage, Divorce, Marriage Bond, Marriage Bann, and things like that that involve exactly two people. They do not include the children.

RM only includes a Family Census fact type because GEDCOM supports such a thing. If you enter a Family Census fact type, it only applies to the couple. It does not apply to the children in the same census in the same sense that a Marriage fact does not apply to the children that result from the marriage. If you use Family Census, it will appear in the couple section of narrative reports along with Marriage and Divorce. It will not appear in the individual section of narrative reports along with Birth, Death, and Burial.

Any fact type can be shared whether it’s an individual fact type or a couple fact type. The role that is shared will always be individual even if the fact type is couple. For example, the Marriage fact type can be shared with the actual flower girl at the wedding with the role for the Marriage fact of Flower Girl and the best man at a wedding can be shared with the actual best man at the wedding with the role for the Marriage fact of Best Man.


So Jerry, knowing all this, how do you enter a census or residence fact in your program, if you do?
For instance, a family appears in a particular census, with or without an exact address.

What I’ve been doing in RM7 was to add a residence fact (individual) to the head of household, with the census as a source, and share that with the other occupants.
In RM8, I’ve been doing the same thing, except adding a residence fact (family/couple) to the head of household, if married, and then sharing that fact with the children.

Now I’m thinking maybe I shouldn’t??

Thanks for your input. I enjoy learning from your experience.

There are several good ways to enter census information. I make no claim that my way is the only good way nor that it is the best way. It’s just the one that meets my needs.

I do all my initial processing of census information from outside of RM. I download the census page, I transcribe the data from that page for the family or families I need onto my personal Web page, and I enter commentary about about the data from that page onto my personal Web page. If I didn’t have a personal Web page where I could do the transcription, I would do the same transcriptions first into Notepad. It’s just too hard to transcribe from census directly into RM.

You can see the effect, for example, at Images and transcriptions from the 1940 census, Anderson County, Tennessee When I first started these Web pages, I didn’t add the images. I’m in a long term process of adding the images back in.

In any case, after I have my images and my transcriptions and my commentary ready, I’m ready to copy and paste the text into RM. And remember, Notepad is just fine. You don’t have to make Web pages outside of RM to use my method. The next big question is whether a census entry is a source or a fact. I view at both, although many people would view as only a source. Either approach is valid. I have simply chosen “both a source and a fact” approach rather than the “just a source” approach.

So I start with entering a Census fact for the head of household. I paste a copy of the full transcription for everybody in the family into the Census note for the head of household. I also create a citation for that Census fact for the head of household. I paste the same transcription into the Research Note for the citation. I also copy and paste commentary I created into the Detail Comment field for the transcription. I also link my image to both the Census fact and to the citation. So the image is carried along with the citation when the citation is later memorized and pasted.

Unfortunately, my census transcriptions have all the fields nice and aligned. But there doesn’t seem to be a way go keep them properly aligned when I paste them into RM. Maybe someday.

Having done all that, I then paste the same citation to other places for the head of household. For example, the same citation might be evidence for the person’s name, for their place of birth, for their approximate date of birth, and for the birth place of the parents.

Next, I create a Census fact for each of the other family members. In their Census note, I paste the first line of my transcription which identifies the place, date, etc. of the census. I paste as the second line of the Census note the line from my transcription just for that person. I paste the same citation for the Census fact for this person as for the head of household, and also for any other applicable facts for this person.

I don’t use shared facts because there is so much software where shared facts don’t transfer, FamilySearch and ancestry being prime examples. Every Census fact for each person is an individual Census fact for that person. It’s a lot of work, but I think the end result is well worth the effort. A sample report may be seen at Sample RM Report Including Census Transcriptions


That was a very useful account of the theory and practice. I am now inclined to stop using census(family) and not use the share option either because of compatibility problems with data sharing/transfer.

I will now continue to use the same system as above of creating a census event for each member of the family and copying the transcription from the note. However, I have been copying the whole note so the child is still shown in context. But I will try that idea of having the transcription duplicated in the citation source.

What I really want is the ability to copy an event such as census to another person so all the data fields are populated by the same material. But is that actually realistic for programming?

It is doable. Ten years ago I demonstrated the principles using an outboard sqlite script. It has not been updated to RM8 nor for TreeShare (7.5).

See Copy Fact to Group.


Well that would be preferable to sharing, for compatibility purposes. Glad to hear it can be done. But I suppose since RM have pursued sharing, they won’t.

Thank you so much, Jerry.

I really am torn on using shared facts. Like you say, they do not show up well when transferring data to a different program, or when comparing people in the file to FamilySearch, Ancestry, etc.
On the other hand, I really like being able to see at a glance in the events list that a person shared that census/residence event with others, or was a son/daughter/wife, etc. in someone else’s household.

Like Sally (Marshtown), I like having the whole transcription in my Research Note, so that the child is show in context. For awhile I wasn’t doing that, and I really regretted it. I am happy about the “reuse citation” feature in RM8, so that if I make a typo, or decide to change my formatting method, I can fix the census citation in one place, and have it be consistent with all the other people and events I have attached it too.

By the way, I found your note on the origins of Polly as a nickname for Mary (on your webpage) to be very interesting!

It is beginning to be the the case that other desktop genealogy software does support shared facts. Such software usually would be described as RM’s competitors. It’s not all such software yet, but it’s beginning to be more common. It seems to me that it’s more the Web based places to store genealogical data such as ancestry and FamilySearch that do not support shared facts.

Another difference between RM and its desktop competitors on the one hand and ancestry and FamiySearch on the other hand is the handling of sources, citations, and the media thereof. It seems to me that ancestry and FamilySearch really don’t have citations per se. They just have sources. You click on what they call a source, and you are immediately taken to an image such as a census image. I guess the difference has to do with the fact that online there are hyperlinks available and it’s hard to make hyperlinks work that way in print.

I don’t go to the lengths that Jerry does, but my underlying principle is similar. I add the census source and citation to (usually) the head of household, and transcribe all the household members into the Notes field. Then I copy that Source and Citation to the appropriate Fact (I use Census, never Residence) for all the other members of the household - I find the new Re-use Citation feature a boon here, because any subsequent corrections are automatically copied to all occurrences.