TMG News

A Publication for users of The Master Genealogist®

Vol. 3, No. 3,  Winter 1998

Editor: Lissa Soergel
HTML Design: Laura Wallace



New England Genealogical Council Boston, Massachusetts March 21, 1998
Massachusetts TMG Users Group Framingham, Massachusetts March 22, 1998
Montgomery County Genealogy Club Rockville, Maryland March 25, 1998
National Genealogical Society Conference Denver, Colorado May 6-9, 1998
Federation of Genealogical Societies Cincinnati, Ohio August 19-22, 1998

Latest News

As this issue goes to press, we are preparing to release v3.5 -- a major new upgrade to The Master Genealogist. It will be available as a FREE download from our web page and from our Compuserve support forum (GO GENSUP). Alternatively, registered users may order the upgrade on CD-ROM or 3.5" floppies for $19.95 plus shipping. The CD-ROM edition includes an update to The Source, the valuable research tool from Ancestry, Inc.

TMG/Win version 3.5 incorporates many new features and enhancements that you have suggested, including an improved interface, customizable toolbar, a powerful split-screen match/merge feature, a Quick-Add screen to add new people without leaving an event, improved backup/restore, many new narrative construction tools, and much more. TMG/Win v3.5 also reinforces its reputation for the most advanced source citation features by providing two complete source template systems (as documented by Richard Lackey and Elizabeth Shown Mills), as well as by offering complete user-customization of long footnote, short footnote, and bibliographic forms by using field labels. The source template system is very similar to sentence construction tools with which you may already be familiar (e.g., [AUTHOR], "[TITLE]," ....)

With this release we also added considerably to the list of direct import modules, including Family Tree Maker™and Family Origins™, bringing the total to more than 20 supported formats. TMG's highly acclaimed import technology, now called GenBridge™, is becoming widely recognized for its superior data transfers, circumventing the many problems associated with GEDCOM imports. You may also find GenBridge technology incorporated in products from other vendors in the future.

To meet the various needs of researchers, we are also offering TMG/Win v3.5 for the first time in two editions. The Silver Edition includes the basic program, the complete suite of data-entry capabilities (including the Research Log and Exhibit Log), RTF output, an on-disk reference manual, and many other bells and whistles at a budget price of $59.95. The Gold Edition adds the professional publication features (including table of contents, indexes, and native word processor output), the Ancestry Genealogy Library (CD #2), and a printed reference manual - all at a new low price of $99.00. [Prices exclude shipping and may be lower from dealers.] For a detailed comparison of Gold and Silver Editions, see

Users upgrading from v3.0 will receive TMG/Win v3.5 Gold Edition. Those who purchased directly from Wholly Genes after 1 December 1997 for the full previous retail price of $129.00 will receive a $30.00 rebate.

Please note!

Wholly Genes has moved to new quarters in Columbia, Maryland. Our phone, fax, and e-mail numbers are unchanged. Addresses and phone numbers are listed here.

We are no longer supporting the Wholly Genes BBS, since TMG users now seem to prefer contacting us at our Internet address or via other online services.

Don't forget to visit our web site for the latest news, files, user group information, etc.


Return to Table of Contents.

 Editor's Corner

Don't Forget the Geobase!


After the NGS Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, in the summer of 1996, Bob and I took the opportunity to visit Washington County in East Tennessee, the home of a number of our pioneer ancestors, who settled there before Tennessee became a state.

In preparation for our trip, I queried the Geobase for all cemeteries in Washington County. It took only a few minutes to scan the resulting list of 307 cemeteries for names associated with our families and come up with a list of eleven private cemeteries that might contain our relatives. We already knew of three community cemeteries where ancestors were said to be buried.

The next step was to print out the Geobase information for each of these cemeteries and plot their locations on a topographical map from the U. S. Geological Survey, using the latitude and longitude coordinates. Many (not all) of the cemeteries were marked on the map, but some of them were so small that the map showed only a tiny rectangle with a cross in it. There wasn't room for a label, so we wouldn't have known what cemetery it was, were it not for our Geobase information, even if we had been able to find the rectangle.

Driving east from Nashville, we entered the northwest corner of Washington County and five minutes later were standing in the first of our fourteen cemeteries, making transcripts and photographs of the tombstones. As we were doing this, a car stopped, and a woman came to see what we were up to. We explained, and ten minutes later were sitting in the living room of a distant cousin, of whose existence we were hitherto unaware. He was very much interested in genealogy and gave us copies of various documents he had collected over the years, which added greatly to our knowledge of that branch of the family. Of course, we shared with him what we had, too. He accompanied us to another cemetery of a different branch of the family and helped us to negotiate the weeds and brambles to read the tombstones there. After we returned home, he called to give us the name of another cousin with whom he had corresponded but of whom he had lost track. Using the Internet, I was able to locate this cousin, too.

During the rest of our short stay, we managed to find all but one of the remaining cemeteries and visit the county library and courthouse. We felt that our visit was very productive, thanks in great part to the Geobase!


Return to Table of Contents.

Questions and Answers

Filters with Descendancy Reports

Q: Why can't I get a Descendancy Chart to print properly, no matter what filter I use?

A: A Descendancy Chart, by definition, includes all the descendants of a specific person who is the focus of the report. It is a common misconception that using a filter can limit the number of people appearing on the chart. On the contrary, if you use a filter, TMG will attempt to produce a separate chart for each person who is in the core group defined by the filter - so you get many more people, rather than fewer, and a great deal of redundancy is produced. If you want only one chart, do not use a filter! This advice holds true for other reports that are designed to include descendants or ancestors, e.g., the Genealogy Report, Pedigree Charts, and Ahnentafel reports.

Customized Timelines

Q: How can I delete some timeline events that don't apply to certain of my ancestors, while still retaining those events for other people?

A: You can do this by making a new timeline that includes only the events you want. Outside TMG, go to your timeline subdirectory (probably C:\TMGW\TIMELINE) and copy the three files in the timeline you want to alter, giving them a new name but the same extension (.DBF, .FPT, and .DOC). Then enter TMG and choose File -> Timelines -> Edit. You'll find the new name on the list. Select it and delete the events you don't want by highlighting each and choosing Delete. You'll be asked to confirm the deletion. When you have finished, you can lock this new timeline to a person or persons if you wish.

List of Surnames

Q: How can I make changes to a person's name, as shown after the word [Subject] on the Person View?

A: The name in that position is contained in a name tag just like name tags that may appear in the Tag Box. The only difference is that this is the one that has been designated the primary name. To make changes to it, simply click on the [Subject] label, just as you would on a Name-Var label in a Tag Box, and the Tag Entry Screen for that name tag should appear. If you want to preserve the original name, make a new name tag (Tag -> Add Tag from List), which will then appear in the Tag Box. Select “Tag -> Make this tag primary” to switch this new name to the [Subject] line. The original name will now appear in the Tag Box.

Q: I want a list of surnames to take to the library, but when I generate a List of Names report, I get the complete name of every person, instead of each surname printed only once.

A: Use the Distribution of People report instead. You can specify that you want the distribution to be reported by surname. You can also choose whether it is to be sorted by value (i.e., alphabetically) or by frequency (with the most frequently appearing surnames first).

Repairing a Data Set

Q: Is there any difference between running REPAIR.EXE from outside TMG and choosing File -> Data Set -> Repair from within TMG?

A: Yes. REPAIR.EXE checks for physical damage to your files. Use this in the event of a power failure or an error message indicating damaged files, e.g., “memo file is missing/invalid.”

File -> Data Set -> Repair checks for logical errors. Use this when records seem internally inconsistent or are acting strangely, e.g., if the primary birth date does not appear on the Picklist.

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TMG On-Line

Address Labels Using a Spreadsheet
by Ted Meikle

From the TMG-L Mailing List:

Ed Dlugosz wrote to Ted Meikle:

Thanks for talking to me on the phone.

I got an Excel spreadsheet. But I can't get the address out of the address tag. Can you send me your focus and report layout for labels. Thanks.

Ted replied:

I will try to walk through it. Unfortunately, usually what seems simple in person starts looking complicated when written. Here goes, starting at the very beginning:

Address Tag

I add an ADDRESS tag to show address of living relatives in my database.  Clicking on the ADDRESS tag brings up a dialog box with address entries:

Date: Date I am entering it (address was good as of that date)
Addressee: The name of the person, as I would want it to appear on a mailing label.

The other fields are self-explanatory.

List of Events report

1. Click up on the menu list: Reports/Custom Report Writer. In the box called “List custom report configurations,” select “List of Events.” Choose one of the selections that appears, and click “Select.”

2. You should have a dialog screen labeled something like:

Report: List of Events.

Click the “General” file tab, if necessary. In the box called “Configuration name” give the report a new name, so you can find it again.

Under Destination, click File.

Click File Type: and choose the type of file you want to work with - a spreadsheet file such as Excel, or a more generic tab delimited file (which most programs can read; it simply puts a tab between each field).

Click Directory, and set the path where you want to save the output file.

Click File Name, and name the file.

3. Click Focus file:

Click “Filtered Group

Erase all the existing entries under Field, etc., by selecting each, then clicking Delete up in the menu, or hitting F6. (If you click the box, you first get a little dialog box with a list in it. Click cancel, and then the entry is selected and you can delete it.) Editor's note: To avoid the dialog box, use Tab to move to the desired line. Then press F6 or choose Delete from the menu.

Click 1st box under Field

Select “Addressee” from the list

Click 1st box under Operator

Select “Is not empty

Click 1st box under “Connect

Select “END

(If you want to make additional selections you can do so here. For instance, I created a flag in the database to indicate all descendants of my grandfather, and I added another line that required that that flag be shown, so my list included only addresses of descendants of my grandfather.)

4. Click Output file

Erase all output entries using same technique as described above.

Click 1st box under Contents.

Select Addressee.

Continue with subsequent boxes, selecting, in order:


5. Click Options, and set as you prefer.

6. Now, before you save it to a file, click again on General, and click on Screen, so you can preview what you have selected. You should get columns of your address data. Make sure each column is wide enough for the entries. If a column is too narrow, go back to the Output file tab (see 5 above) and make the offending column wider by typing in a bigger number.

7. Under the General file, change the Destination back to File, then click Generate.

The Last Step

From here, you can open your spreadsheet program, or word-processing program and use the file to create your mailing list, and merge it into letters or mail labels or whatever.

[ To subscribe to the TMG-L mailing list, owned and maintained by TMG user Tim Doyle, send a message to:

with this in the body of the message:


(Nothing in the subject heading, and no signature.) ]


Return to Table of Contents.

Internet Interest

Building Your Own Family History Home Page With TMG

by George W. King
Williamsburg, Virginia


Recently there has been an explosion on the Internet of Home Pages devoted to family history. A Home Page is an excellent way to publicize your interest and to find other living relatives of your ancestors. The Master Genealogist (TMG) offers the capability to build a Home Page that has both advantages and disadvantages over other genealogy software. With careful planning, TMG users can create attractive and informative family history Home Pages that take advantage of TMG's strengths.

Plan before you build

1. How much are you willing to spend? For example, my Internet Service Provider (ISP) gives me 5 MB of disk space and one Home Page on my ISP server as part of my monthly service fee. Therefore, I established a budget of not more than 4 MB for my entire home page. You should find out how much your ISP charges for disk space. You should also determine how much disk space the competing genealogy Home Page programs require.

2. What are your objectives for your Home Page? I am trying to find other living descendants of my ancestors so that I can exchange information. For my project I want pages for several families. For my prospective reader, I don't need a high tech page and don't need to share much more than birth, marriage, and death information. I do want a clean, attractive Home Page that has a good index of names and well designed hypertext links among the ancestors. I also want a format that is readily recognizable by prospective readers.

3. What's the attention span of your prospective reader? Most people lose interest after about one minute. Your first page must come across the Internet quickly. Unless you forewarn your reader, your files should not be larger than 200 KB, about one minute to receive.

4. How much are you willing to learn about hypertext markup language (HTML)? Although you can build a complete Home Page for one family using TMG, you will likely want to add an introduction. You may be forced, as I was, to link several families into one Home Page. You don't need to learn the HTML language or the TMG HTML constructs. However, you will probably want a simple program to build Home Pages - with an HTML program “under the covers.”

Getting started in TMG

1. The most likely Home Page formats from TMG are the Genealogy (Register) Report, Descendancy Narrative, and Descendancy Chart. For one of these reports TMG can create up to five HTML files: Table of Contents, Report, Endnotes, Bibliography, and Index (List of Names). Begin by generating a report in your favorite format. Be sure to include Back Reference Generations to help your reader navigate to the ancestors, using TMG's built in hypertext links. You'll find Back Reference Generations on the CRW Report Definition -> Misc. tab.

2. GENDEX files are not used for your Home Page. In the TMG CRW see Report Definition -> Publication Tools -> Index(es). I turn GENDEX off. If you generate GENDEX files, be sure that you DO NOT transfer them to your ISP. GENDEX files have a .txt extension.

3. Using the TMG CRW, generate your report as an HTML file. In the TMG CRW, the file type is Hypertext Markup Language. Choose a file name of only seven (7) characters. You'll see that TMG will use the eighth character to distinguish the different HTML files described above.

4. After you have saved your report to your local disk, view your TMG HTML files using your web browser. In Netscape Navigator it's: File -> Open File and in MS Internet Explorer it's: File -> Open. The files and names are linked with hypertext links, so you should start with your Table of Contents or Index (List of Names) .

5. After you have your report running in your web browser, look at your file sizes, using your Windows Explorer or File Manager (remember to set Windows Explorer: View -> Details). You'll probably need to reduce the content of your report - now you understand why we did a budget and objectives first! For example, I restricted my reports to six generations and only birth, marriage, and death information. No other tags, sources, endnotes, or bibliography.

6. Do another iteration of your report with the reduced scope. View it with your web browser. Check those file sizes again. Have you met your budget and objectives?

7. When you have your Home Page completed and running in your web browser, be sure to check out all the links to other locations. TMG puts in two: TMG and your e-mail address.

8. You are now ready to set up a Home Page for one family with your ISP. You will need a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) program to transfer your files to your ISP. Ask your ISP to recommend one. Your ISP will probably require all file names in lower case letters - best to start with lower case letters. Your ISP may also require your first page to have the file name index.html. For a single family you will probably rename your Table of Contents file as index.html. Most FTP programs have a facility to rename files when you transfer them to your ISP.

9. When you are ready to advertise your Home Page, be sure to send an e-mail note to family and regional genealogy associations of interest to your family. You will want them to include a hypertext link in their Home Pages to yours. Also advise several of the Internet search services. Your ISP can tell you how to notify the search services.

Do you need an HTML editor?

1. If you have more than one family or if you want to add information to your Home Page, you will need an HTML editor. Because I had four families, I needed an HTML editor to link the families into one Home Page. Also, I needed to caution readers about the long download times for several large files. While I was at it, I added information at the beginning of each report that I thought to be useful to the reader.

2. WordPerfect 7 and MS Word 7 have HTML editing capabilities. I used WP 7 - which I consider to be completely unsatisfactory. WP 8 and MS Word 7/8 may have acceptable HTML editors. Check with a knowledgeable friend, or your ISP, for a better HTML editor.


With a little planning you can do a quality family history Home Page with TMG. You will see many family history Home Pages that are segmented into many files. These come across the Internet very quickly. However, the disk file overhead is often very expensive. TMG's Genealogy (Register) Report makes a very attractive and efficient Home Page in a familiar format.


Return to Table of Contents.

“Bogus” Parents?

by Bob Velke, President, Wholly Genes, Inc.

In a recent discussion on the TMG-L mailing list, there were complaints about the need to create “bogus” parents in order to link siblings together. I think that the use of this term (and others like it) does the issue a disservice.

TMG is not asking you to make up data or fake anything. It is asking you to confront a legitimate genealogical question: “What do you mean by 'sibling'?”

Once you decide whether the siblings should have father, mother, or both in common, TMG will apply your thinking to the data.

If you assert that the siblings have the same father, for instance, then TMG asks you to say so by establishing the appropriate links. If you don't happen to know the name of the father, then that is another matter altogether. You are asserting that you know the father's place in the world, and that's what triggers the creation of the father record.

In that case, you can say that his name is “unknown,” which, after all, is the fact. It correctly distinguishes your knowledge (that the fathers are really the same person) from your lack of it (his name). The relationship(s) and names are separate issues and can be cited and measured independently for surety. The resulting data is precisely non-bogus.

It may certainly be the case that you don't know what your source meant by “his brother, John,” insofar as the extent of their common parentage. But this is no different from any other issue in which the researcher has to evaluate his or her data. In TMG, PAF, and most other programs, for instance, you must at least assert (if only temporarily) whether or not the unidentified parents are known to be in your data set in another context. You might apply some rationale, you might not be prepared to decide, or you might guess. In any case, one would hope that you would cite your source.

TMG has oodles of features by which you can draw the proverbial dotted line, including non-primary parentage, parent candidates, exclusion markers, sensitive data, report filters, a custom “Relation” tag, etc.

It is true that a lot of other programs don't require that you confront the “sibling” question (and others like it). Many will thus shield you from the inexactness of genealogical evidence and the need to consider what you really mean.

This is a polite way of saying that the software will make such decisions for you. I happen to think that it is a bad thing to defer interpretation of evidence to your software - even in those cases where it might otherwise mean a few more keystrokes. Those who disagree will undoubtedly be frustrated by TMG, which goes out of its way to apply this way of thinking. On the other hand, many users are attracted to TMG precisely because it doesn't try to be a researcher.

If you think that PAF isn't making a decision for you by circumventing the “What do you mean by 'sibling'?” question, then you are mistaken. PAF defines a “family” as “a father, mother, and their children.” If you enter two children in the same family, then PAF interprets that to mean that they had both parents in common (whether or not you identify them and whether or not that's what you intended).

GEDCOM likewise has no way to communicate “siblings” whose commonality

of parentage is unknown. GEDCOM's FAMily record is not merely a way to link people together. It asserts that children within that family have the same father and mother, even if neither parent is identified by name or number. In other words, GEDCOM (like PAF) does not distinguish full siblings and half siblings from just “siblings” ... because it can't.

So while you may have entered two children in PAF without parents in the hope of signifying that you don't know which parent(s) they have in common, by the time your information is communicated to other researchers, the decision has been made for you (once by PAF and again by GEDCOM).

I confess that I've never seen a GEDCOM file that includes a FAMily record with neither HUSBand nor WIFE identified at least as “unknown.” But I can confirm that the specs allow it - while continuing to assert its definition of “family” as described above.

In that light, one might say TMG is wrong in failing to recognize the GEDCOM “family” and preserve the link between those unparented “siblings.” In order to do so, however, it would have to create records (e.g., “unknown father” and “unknown mother”), even though they are not explicitly represented in the GEDCOM file. Ironically, that would make TMG guilty of creating “fake” or “bogus” data.

So in interpreting the GEDCOM file in question, TMG is left with a choice between two evils: losing data (the association between unparented siblings) or creating “bogus” data (the identity of people who aren't in the GEDCOM file). TMG reluctantly chooses the former - with attention to the scholarly principle that fabricated data is worse than none at all.

However, with thanks to this thread for bringing this issue to light, I've added a feature by which TMG inserts a warning in the GEDCOM listing/errata file whenever it encounters such a situation while importing a GEDCOM file. I'm afraid that's the best I can do.


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Navigation Macros


The following describes an undocumented feature of TMG. Navigation macros can be very helpful when the same series of keystrokes must be executed repeatedly. The feature is undocumented because these macros are temperamental around alphabetic scrollable lists (like the Picklist and Tag Types List). But enough people have found good uses for the navigation macros that some discussion about their uses and limitations is warranted.

Press <Shift>+F10 to get navigation macros. Choose what key will be used for this macro and assign a name to it. The name can be composed of any alpha/numeric characters except embedded spaces. The name is not really used for anything, however, so the default is all you need.

The defined key can be:

  Alone Shift+ Ctrl+ Alt+
F1, F2, etc. y y y Y (except as below)
A, B, C, etc. n n y Y
Home, End, Pgup, PgDn y Y y Y
Arrow Keys y Y y Y
Insert, Delete y Y y Y


n = macro cannot be assigned.

y = macro can be assigned but it runs a strong risk of conflict with navigation keys, shortcuts/hotkeys, data-entry macros, etc.

Y = macro can be assigned.

Special Cases


is the default trigger for the macro dialog. That function can be reassigned with a "MACKEY=<trigger>" (no quotes) in the CONFIG.FP file (DOS) or CONFIG.FPW file (Windows), e.g., MACKEY=CTRL+F7. Then Shift-F10 can be reassigned to another function.


When this combination is specified for a macro trigger, it requires a third keystroke (a-z). This provides 26 more unique macro keys.

Note that in v1.2a (for DOS), <Shift>+F10 macros are saved from one session to the next only if one exits the program through CRW-> File->Exit to DOS. If you exit the normal way, then the macros from the previous session will be restored in the next session. So you only need to exit through the side door only if you want to lock in changes to the macros. Once you have done that, the macros will be available whenever you enter the program, and you will be able to exit normally.

The above instructions do not apply for TMG for Windows. Macros are saved between sessions, regardless of the exit process.

If you want to redefine or delete a macro, then you should start over with <Shift>+F10. If you want to delete all user-defined macros at once, you can erase TMGMACRO.MEM from your TMG program directory.

Here's an example of the use of a navigation macro.

A user asked whether it is possible to force the Research Log (F12) to default Focus to “All Tasks” or “General.” (The Research Log is designed to come up in the mode which is specific to the context from which it was called - the person, event, etc., that you were viewing at the time.)

You can create a macro which calls the Research Log with <Shift>+F12 (or whatever) and switches to All Tasks automatically. From anywhere that the Research Log is accessible, type the following:



<Shift>+F10 to access the secret navigation macro function
<Shift>+F12 or whatever unassigned hot key you want
<Tab> to move to the <OK> button
<Enter> to start recording
F12 to call the Research Log
<Alt>+C to access the foCus menu
<Enter> for All Tasks (or <G> for General Tasks)
<Shift>+F10 to stop recording the macro
<Enter> to save the macro

If you exit the program as described above for TMG/DOS (CRW->File->Exit to DOS) or by any means for TMG/Win, after defining the macro, then it will be saved, and thereafter you can press <Shift>+F12 to access the Research Log with the focus already set to “All Tasks.”

The navigation macro function comes in handy in many contexts such as this. Just remember that it isn't well-behaved on alphabetic scrolling lists like the Tag Types List.

Return to Table of Contents.

TMG NEWS is an exclusive newsletter for registered users of The Master Genealogist .

Editor: Lissa Soergel


The text of this newsletter can be downloaded free from our BBS or at regular online rates from Compuserve (GO GENSUP) and other electronic services.

Hard copy subscriptions are available by U. S. Mail for $15.00 for four issues per year. Add $5.00 postage for Canada and Mexico; $10.00 for other countries.

This electronic version of TMG News may be distributed freely provided that it is copied in its entirety and distributed only in electronic form.

Contents © 1997 Wholly Genes, Inc. All rights reserved. The Wholly Genes logo, The Master Genealogist, and TMG are trademarks of Wholly Genes, Inc. All other trademarks mentioned herein belong to their respective owners.

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Back to Laura's Main TMG Page.

L.A.W. 19 October 2000