Thursday, August 31, 2017

Standard Dates and Places in Family Tree

The terms "standard date" and "standard place" in the FamilySearch Family Tree can be confusing. The date and place of every major life event is stored in two forms: the displayed form that is shown on most screens, and the standard form that the computer uses for it's own purposes (the Find function, Possible Duplicates, PDF charts, etc.)

To make searches work better, Family Tree uses standard dates and standard places. These are Family Tree's interpretation of the data that was uploaded or input. Sometimes these are totally different from the date and place displayed on the various screens of Family Tree. In other words, what we see and what the computer sees can be totally different. This is the reason patrons may be warned of a Data Problem when the data looks perfect. For example, the date may be shown as “12 January 1901”, but Family Tree may have it standardized as “12 January 1091”. A place displayed as “Scotland” may be standardized as “Scotland, St Helena” a place thousands of miles away.

When you are helping a patron with a possible date or place problem, how can you be sure what the Standard data is? The key is to hover the mouse pointer over the date or place until the Standard interpretation of the data is displayed in a pop-up.

If the Standard data is wrong, help the patron to edit it and then check it to make sure the edited data is standardized correctly. In the Help Center, see: Entering standardized dates and places (71996)

(Sometimes editing requires you to add a space at the end of the data, to force the system to bring up the list of standard dates or places to choose from. If the real place name is not on the list presented by the computer, clicking in the gray area will cause the computer to select the first place on the list as the standard place, which may be what you want. In any case choose the standard place closest to the actual place. In some countries the state and country may be as close as close as you can get, at the present time.) 

To reserve ordinances for an individual, there must be a standard date and standard place of at least one major life event. (birth, christening, marriage, death, or burial) See (52714) in the Help Center. If all ordinances have been completed, there is less need for standard dates and places, although there will be data warnings if they are missing.

When dealing with dates and places it can be useful to distinguish between FORM and FUNCTION. The standard form for a date is day + month (spelled in full in any supported language) + year
e.g. 12 July 1789, or 4 Mars 1654, 26 Junio 1862
The standard form for a place is the levels of jurisdiction from smallest to largest separated by commas. e.g. Breton, Alberta, Canada, or Harrow View, Harrow Wield, Harrow, Middlesex, England

In actual practice, a date or place may be in some other format and still function as standard. This is especially true of dates.  e.g.  7 FEB 1923, or 22 AVR 1855
And the date and place may be in a standard form and not function as standard.
e.g. Germany (and every other standard place name that has not been recognized as standard).

Hold the mouse pointer over the data to see how the computer interprets it. Once you know this information you are prepared to help your patron.

1 comment:

  1. Bill, Thanks for the very useful information and instruction. I have suggested that all our Fort Worth Texas FHC staff members learn it well. PHB