Unusual Uses of TMG

From time to time, a question arises on the TMG List or the TMG Community Forum in regard to a particular use of TMG than is normally expected.  One normally expects to see TMG to record and analyze data regarding people, their ancestors, descendants, in-laws, etc. and their relationships and the events in their lives.  However, many users have found other ways in which TMG may be employed.  

About five years ago, I asked on TMG-L for reports of odd uses.  I got a few responses, but not very many.  After reviewing the response, most unusual uses weren’t all that unusual.  While TMG might not have traced the history (ancestors, descendants, and events) of humans, similar information was tracked for other entities.

One user noted the tracing of their family medical history as an unusual purpose of TMG.  While this may not be the “normal” use of a genealogy program, TMG is not just a genealogy program. And many other genealogy programs are no longer used solely for genealogy.  TMG is self-described as “The Complete Family History Project Manager” and as such is intended as more than just a way to trace bloodlines.  Still, many have not considered some uses of the program. Of course, most might not trace medical history to the depth that this one person does with custom Tags for doctor, dentist, visits, blood donations, illnesses, etc.  His intent was to track insurance claims/payments, as well as medications.

At least one person has considered using TMG for tracking lineage of rose bushes.  I don’t know if the person ever followed through on this and there would be some adaptation issues here, but I suspect this would work well.  The same could be applied in most botanical areas.

Quite a few people use TMG to track pedigrees of dogs, cats, horses, bison, and other animals.  A little further afield, but related is herd control including the birth/acquisition, feeding, care, and death/sale of animals in a herd or kennel.  One user is reported to track greyhound pedigrees.  In that project, some of the information tracked is races won, if retired and when, owners, original (pedigree) name, call name, adoption name, when adopted, and more.

At least, one user tracks the history of her house using TMG.  Others have done a similar thing for an entire town tracking not only the buildings, but the land itself.  One user tracks the history of a place to a great degree – land, people, churches, cemeteries.  

Another user mentioned the idea of using TMG with a cookbook.  The name would be that of the recipe.  The place fields in a Tag would be used to locate in the book – section, chapter, page, etc., and the Memo would be formatted for the recipe itself.  No mention was made of relationships, but that might be used to group certain recipes – meats, vegetables, desserts, etc.

One user tracks photographs in a TMG project.  Each photograph is given a name (description of the subject). Custom Tags are used to help track various kinds of photographs -- tintypes, daguerrotypes, contact prints, etc.  Photographs relating to the same subject, say a wedding, graduation, building dedication, etc. are given a parent (father) grouping them together. Other attributes are included for each photograph -- some in Custom Tags and others in standard Tags.  Most Custom Tags are created to assign a specific Sentence to the photograph.

Another suggested use was to track obituaries.  Most of us refer to an obituary for a person.  But, there could be multiple obituaries for a person, especially if the person lived in multiple places, happened to be well-known, etc.  Thus, there might be obituaries on many different newspapers, on-line sites, etc.  Most of these would probably contain the same information with minor re-arrangement, emphasis, etc.   Or all obituaries ever printed in a particular newspaper could be tracked in a similar way to the way recipes are tracked above.

One user considered the analysis of a murder trial and appeals.  It would track hearings, judges, lawyers, witnesses, even audience members when noted in transcripts and other court records.   Also tracked would be outcomes, questions asked by lawyers, etc. With this in mind, I can think of a murder trial locally that I might try this on.  I recall hearing of this case when I was a kid and later came to know the defendant's ex-wife. I also knew many of the principals in the trial very well.  The defense lawyer was my Dad's first cousin, and some of the stories I have been told from that case by an uncle are really hilarious.  The writer's of the old Perry Mason TV series would not have could happen.  Of course, Perry Mason was big city and this was small town, where things work differently.

Some projects may not appear unusual in any way until one digs deep and notes that a few things are handled differently.  For example, one user treats a microfilm reel as a Repository.  Another user tracks the book and documents that are held for various projects in a separate project in which authors, agencies, compilers, and editors are entered as the persons in the data set.

Another unusual use has been around almost from TMG's inception.  This is the creation of what is called "dummy" people.  The original concept declared a census for a place to be a "person."  That "dummy" person was then assigned as a Principal (usually P2) in a normal Census Tag .  The other Principal (P1) would usually be the Head of Household and the remaining household members would be added as Witnesses.  Reports could then be created listing all persons in the data set for that census.  Diana Begeman wrote up the concept of "Recording Census Data in TMG" and posted it on her web site at <http://home.earthlink.net/~djebegeman/tmg/Census.htm>.  As she notes in her description, others do things a bit differently.

Still others have taken the idea of "dummy" people and expanded the concept to other uses.  For example, there are "dummy" cemetery people, "dummy" courthouse people, etc.  Thus, if a place, repository, source, or whatever contained many people, records, or whatever in the user's project, the "dummy" Principal concept could be used to control and report those that had been entered into TMG from that "dummy" person/

Adapting TMG to am Unusual Purpose

With regard to any unusual purpose for using TMG, one must consider how to adapt TMG to that use.  Tracing animal, botanical, place pedigrees would all be very similar and require little change to existing Tags.  A similar use could be made of TMG to track slaves prior to emancipation.  I have no doubt that some users have done this to trace their ancestors (it would have been helpful for Alex Haley back when he wrote Roots).

Adaptations will depend on what is being traced.  The most usual things would be the birth/creation or death/end of an entity.  That is, when was a house built, an animal born, a new breed of animal created, suit filed, indictment made, etc? When did the entity die or no longer exist or end?  Could the outcome of a trial be considered the “death” of that trial? Could the sentencing or judgment be the equivalent of burial or probate. Could the finding by the jury be equivalent of a will?    

Then there are relationships. With whom was the animal bred? What/who are its offspring?  Is an appeal to a trial considered as a “child” or how else could it be considered?  Who were the owners of an animal, house, etc?  What events need Custom Tags created?  How is the entity treated during a sale?  As a Principal or a witness?  Assuming the entity is land entered as the Principal, are buyers and or sellers assign as 2nd Principal or as Witness(es)?

Then there is marriage/divorce.  Is it needed for use with a project tracing breeding history?  Or are father and mother all that is needed? Is this relevant to history of a building?  How are genetic changes (say for botanical use) entered?  How are diseases tracked?  Are building materials, diets, food, fertilizer, drugs, pesticides, etc. tracked and how?  Are multiple events occurring during a single day tracked and, if so, how are they ordered (sorted)?  Are there events such as races tracked and, if so, how is standing tracked? 

Some of these questions are rather easily answered by just using the default Tags with minor changes to the Tag/Witness Sentences.  Others are best answered by creating Custom Tags.  The use of the Custom Tag dictates the Tag Group to which it is assigned.

So, if you have something unusual that you want to track, keep TMG in mind.  You already know how to use it.  It is very flexible, and it is freebecause you already have it.  The only thing holding you back is your imagination.


Comments to:  Lee Hoffman

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