What went wrong with my Numbering System?


It’s no coincidence that right before my genealogy hiatus, a traumatic event happened during my file cleanup project. The main objective of the cleanup project was to finally have an organized, sourced core family tree to work from. The project has been going on for three years now.

Well into the project, I finally got a nice pace going. I also finally had an organization method that was “synced” between Family Tree Maker 2012, RootsMagic, and my moore-mays.org database. Basically, I would enter a person into RootsMagic since the program automatically assigns a number to a person, and as far as I know, there is no way to change it. Then I would use that number as a Person ID in Family Tree Maker and the website. I would also label all my digital files with the same number. So that I could always refer to one number for each ancestor. It was a beautiful system that worked beautifully!

Then it happened.


Basically, I was doing some ScotlandsPeople data entry, when I happened to notice that the numbers in my programs were… off. Now there is no doubt in my mind I did something here. The Roots Magic program didn’t do this without me doing ¬†something. I was messing around with the file in the week or so before I noticed what had happened. Most likely I was playing around with the software and did something.

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If I’m being completely upfront, I most likely even …. merged a Gedcom into the file. Which kind of explains that. To put it into a timeline, this happened right before my “hiatus”. It was right before the holidays and I was also helping to plan a party at the time. Things were obviously the perfect storm of procrastination I needed at the time.

After the holidays, I took some time and decided it was time to get back to work. Broken resolutions be damned I was going to get back to it. About 5 minutes in, I had a genealogy diva fit and posted this to my twitter account.

So the numbered filing system I've used for 3 years... totally screwed. I have no idea when or where or how that happened. #epicfail
Kathleen Moore

Again, I’ve never been more sure of my decision to name this blog the Misadventures of a Genealogist. Except maybe my sub-headline should be “If it ain’t broke, give me a minute.”

Now that I’m feeling more my age, I’m able to look at the “traumatic” issue with saner eyes.


It wasn’t until I decided to take a deep breath and go through my backups that I found my salvation. I realized I had an “extra” Roots Magic file in my Family file directory. THANK YOU GENEALOGY KARMA.

"Extra" Genealogy file
“Extra” Genealogy file

It turns out that before I did whatever it was I did, I created a new file. Since I usually just close my program and not the file, it automatically brought up the “play file” the next time I opened it up.

I’m not completely out of the woods, it’s completely possible I lost some progress before I realized what was going on between the two files. The great news is that I wasted 3 months thinking I had a horrible, tragic, traumatic event happen and I actually didn’t have it.

I know, I’m weird, but you got to look on the bright side of life. It could have been true, and I could have not had an extra file to use.

Whew. That was close.

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  • Magda

    January 31, 2013

    You are back !I read about these sync problems a lot . Hope everything stays steady for you and no more misadventures !

  • John Sparrow

    February 1, 2013

    Hi Kathleen
    We’ve all done that. For what it’s worth, I use Family Tree Builder where I can import Excel spreadsheets. FTB has unique numbering as well. That way I convert a GEDCOM into a spreadsheet, re-align numbers and then import into my master.
    Cheers and Happy Genealogy

  • Kathleen

    February 1, 2013

    Magda > Good to see you again! I have no idea if misadventures are waiting for me but I guess we’ll see soon!

    John > Thanks for your comment! I’ve downloaded Family Tree Builder, and I wasn’t aware you could import Excel sheets. That’s pretty cool. I always try different programs and always end back up with FTM. I think it’s because that’s the program I started with.

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