#IamNextGen Spotlight: A Tool to Change the Way You Conduct Collateral Research (Census2GED V2.1)

In this third installment of our new guest blog series #IamNextGen Spotlight,  Renée Schmidt gives us an indepth look at her software program, Census2Ged – an exciting new tool for genealogists. 



  1. Links
  2. Introduction
  3. Wait, What is Collateral Research?
  4. So, How Does Census2Ged Help With Collateral Research?
  5. Installing Census2Ged
  6. Prerequisites
  7. Using Census2Ged
  8. Gedcom Name
  9. Country
  10. Census Year
  11. Sourcing
  12. Source List Name
  13. Everything Else in Sourcing
  14. United States Tags
  15. Swedish Household Examinations
  16. Swedish Household Examination Tags
  17. Cleaning Up the Final Gedcoms


Eleven months ago I published version 1.0 of my software, Census2Ged. It was buggy, had no customizability, and had an appearance reminiscent of the dark days where graphic design and software had an oppositional relationship.

I am happy to announce that those days of visual and operational vulgarity are now over, thanks to the advent of the latest version, Census2Ged v2.1.

The functional differences between v2.1 and all previous ones are massive, and the program will change the ease of conducting collateral research for all who use it.

Wait, What is Collateral Research?


I’m glad you asked! Collateral research is the act of researching those who were not necessarily related to your ancestors but were relevant in some way to the ancestor’s life. These could be indirect relatives, friends, neighbors, classmates, etc. Investigating these people can give insight into ancestors lives where significant pieces of the story are missing. In the USA, the further back into history you go, the more you will find nationality specific clusters of individuals living together (potentially helpful for finding an immigrant ancestor’s origin) and the more common it was for members of the same family to live in the same small area as one another (very helpful for finding the elusive parents of an ancestor).

One of my favorite sources for my collateral lines is censuses because they show individuals living in close proximity to one another over long periods of time. If all else fails, I can count on collateral research as a potential brick wall destroyer.

So, How Does Census2Ged Help With Collateral Research?

Another fantastic question! The main purpose of Census2Ged is to turn transcriptions of Censuses and Household Examinations into gedcom files while preserving as much information from them as possible. Here is a visual representation of 2 consecutive 1910 census sheets for my Byers family after they were turned into a gedcom file using Census2Ged (I used YEd’s gedcom import to make the graphic).

Gedcom produced by Census2Ged

As you can see, out of over 100 individuals only 9 are not attached to families (these 9 all either lived alone or had non-standard relationships with the heads of their households).

My favorite part about this new gedcom though is that nearly every fact contained in each census is preserved as well, and each fact has a full citation attached to it.

The gedcom file produced by census2ged as seen in Legacy Family Tree

These facts represent ~77% of all information contained in the 1910 census, for a full list on exactly what information is and isn’t represented you can consult the more technical documentation here: https://github.com/xXReneeXx/Census2Ged.

The citations generated by Census2Ged were made to conform to the ones written using LegacyFamily Tree’s Source Writer. That is to say that while they don’t import completely cleanly into the Legacy Source Writer (which is, as far as I know, impossible to import into) they are formatted exactly as if they had been written in the source writer.

A master source produced by census2ged

A source detail produced by Census2Ged


The full source produced looks like this:

Kansas, Jewell, 1910 U.S. census, Ancestry, Digital Images (Ancestry.com: National Archives and Records Administration, 2006), T624, roll T624_442, Athens, enumeration district (ED) 56, sheet 9B, dwelling 192, family 193, Buyers William F, accessed 13 Jul 2018.
  • 97 Individuals
  • 20 Families
  • 20 Surnames
  • 11 Master Locations
  • 1 Master Source
  • 683 Citations
  • 493 Master Events with 493 used by individuals


Installing Census2Ged

Installation is fairly simple:

  1. Follow this link: https://github.com/xXReneeXx/Census2Ged/releases
  2. Under the release titled “Census2Ged v2.1” click on the download link for Census2Ged v2.1.zipas shown below.

  1. Extract the files like you normally would, I suggest saving the program in your documents folder.
  2. Navigate to where you saved the files and double-click the file named Census2Ged.exeto run it. It’s possible your antivirus will flag it as malware. I can assure you it is completely safe and if you wish you may contact me and ask more questions about it. It is likely being flagged because it is a new release so not many people have downloaded it.

Congratulations, you have successfully started the program!



It’s important to realize that Census2Ged is not for transcribing censuses, merely for converting transcriptions. To make transcriptions you must use a program called GenscriberGenscriber is a completely free piece of software used for transcribing things like censuses with ease. It comes with templates for the United States Censuses which you can use with my program. I also wrote a custom template for the Swedish household examinations which you can use in Genscriber. To use in genscriber find the Custom-Template-Files folder in Census2Ged’s files, then copy the template file over to Genscriber’s template folder and use as you normally would. My template folder is located at C:\Users\Renee\GenScriber\include\templates, however, yours will be located in a slightly different place.

You can then transcribe a census from the year of your choosing, save it as a CSV file, and import it into Census2Ged.


Using Census2Ged

Now for the fun part!

When you first open Census2Ged you will see a screen that looks like this:

Let’s go over each field and explore its use.

Gedcom Name

This will be the name of the final output gedcom file. The gedcom file will save in the same folder as the Census2Ged application.


Select the country you transcribed a census from. This will change all the other options to the relevant one for the country you chose. Currently, the only available countries are the United States and Sweden but I hope to add more in the future.

Census Year

When you select the country the earliest available census year will be selected automatically, however you can change it easily using the drop-down menu. The currently available census years are 1850-1910 for the United States and 1881-1885 for the Swedish Household Examination Records.


Sourcing is currently only available for the United States Census. Source information defined in this section is applied to every fact created in the final gedcom, resulting in a fully sourced file.

Source List Name

This is the name of the master source that will be displayed in the master source list in Legacy Family Tree. For recommendations on how to name these, you can see my post on naming master sources here.

Everything Else in Sourcing

The rest of the sourcing fields are fairly self-explanatory and are named as they are in the Legacy Family Tree Program. However, if you would like a more detailed explanation of how you should fill these out I suggest you take a look at page 22 of this pdf. It explains everything you need to know in detail.

United States Tags

You can now select the types of events you wish to include in your final gedcom file by clicking the checkmark next to each type of event. In addition, you can define a word if you wish to save the information under a custom event. I highly recommend choosing a custom tag name for at least some of these as the events because the gedcom 5.5.1 standard does not include tags that would be aptly applied to every type of event. Here are my suggestions for each field (leaving the custom tag name blank will apply the default tag):

Additionally, it’s important to note that any custom tags you add will be fully compliant with the gedcom standard.  Thats because my program writes these custom events to the gedcom file like so:

1 EVEN description of event

2 TYPE new tag name

So any custom tag you enter will show up as that type of event no matter what program you use.

Swedish Household Examinations

Realize that the Swedish Household Examination part of Census2Ged is still somewhat experimental. That said, it has some really cool features. For instance, it intelligently sorts everything in the name field of the Household examination to determine the relationship, first name, last name, gender, and occupation of the person.

For example, a normal name field in a Swedish record may read like this:

Enk. Johanna Karolina Johannesdr

The program would be able to identify ‘enk.’ to mean that the person is a wife married to the head of the household and identify ‘Johanna Karolina’ as the first names and ‘Johannesdr’ as the last name.

It also uses a machine learning mechanism to continually add names to its dictionaries. So let’s say that the name ‘Karolina’ was not in my program’s first name dictionary already. Because it appears before the last name and after a first name, the program identifies it as a first name and adds it to it’s dictionaries.

That’s a lot of technical stuff though, so I’ll just show you the end result:

Swedish Household Examination Tags

Just like the United States Censuses, you can choose custom tags for the Swedish Household Examinations. Here are my recommended tags:

Cleaning Up the Final Gedcoms

I would highly recommend that you don’t import the final file directly into your main one. Rather, I suggest importing the file as a new gedcom so that you can standardize the formatting of the names and the locations and make any other changes you want. Then you can import the cleaned gedcom into your main file.


  1. Like Census2Ged? Consider sending a couple dollars to my PayPal to support its continued development: https://www.paypal.me/ReneeSchmidt
  2. Census2Ged on Github: https://github.com/xXReneeXx/Census2Ged
  3. Download Census2Ged: https://github.com/xXReneeXx/Census2Ged/releases/tag/v2.2
  4. Join the Census2Ged user group on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1386416641488942/

Link to original blog post can be found HERE

Renée Schmidt is a College Freshman at Marymount University located in Virginia who just really loves genealogy. Not many people in my family are interested in researching our ancestors, but they do enjoy a good story. On my blog, you will find manifestations of my obsession in the form of both stories about my ancestors and tutorials about how to find information on yours. My other obsessions include programming and art, and who knows you may see some evidence of those loves on this blog as well (in the appropriate genealogical contexts of course!)