Making Your Reunion for Mac Census Image Source Type GEDCOM Safe

The census image online source type we created previously for genealogy software Reunion for Mac closely follows the recommendations of genealogy expert Elizabeth Shown Mills from her book, “Evidence Explained:Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace 2nd Edition” and her very handy, laminated Quicksheet for Citing Online Historical Resources Unfortunately many of the fields won’t be transferred should you share your database as a GEDCOM or move to different genealogy software.

This is because the GEDCOM (Genealogical Data Communications) standard doesn’t have fields for schedule, ward, enumeration district, dwelling, family, and person of interest.

I’m more interested in my research being preserved than following ESM to the letter. I invested at least eight hours figuring out the simplest way to show you how to make your census image online source type and citations GEDCOM safe. I recommend you move your source citations into this source type too.

To make the source type GEDCOM safe we’ll need to move data from the fields that don’t have GEDCOM tags into one that does. Specifically, you’ll combine these fields into the source detail:

  • Schedule
  • Ward
  • Enumeration District
  • Dwelling
  • Family
  • Person of Interest

There are a couple other changes too. You’ll also move the page number to the source detail field. A field for census detail is suggested to remind you what information to put in the source detail, and I decided since the previous video, that I want to use a census ID field and move the title into it. That last one’s totally optional.

In this GenealogyTools Member video I show you the process I use to make a the census image online source type GEDCOM safe and how to change existing source records to the new source type.


  1. says

    I just recieved some feedback on this video from which I learned that it’s not clear and that a video is needed to implement the GEDCOM safe census image online source type from scratch, rather than requiring the steps in the other video to be taken first. I’ll make that video next.

    Is there anything else I can do to improve this?

    —Ben >@<

  2. timetrvlr says

    This seemed straightforward as I watched but I did not actually do this conversion, as my first priority is to add in people from my Ancestry tree; then I will need to go person by person and clean up files. In the meantime, as I add info to Reunion, is there some way I can add the new info in this proper format so that I don’t have to redo it later? For completely new sources, it would not be a problem, would it, since these would be new fields, right? Then I can go back and alter the hundreds of old sources later? TIA for any suggestions on how to make this switchover from FTM and Ancestry smoother. (I did order your CDs so am looking forward to getting those this week.)

  3. Shirley Gerber says

    Ben–I was pausing and copying the census details as you had them–is there a reason that you showed us the duplication with in the arrows in some places and not in others? I noticed that what you had was not exactly what you asked us to type.

    Census Detail (put in source detail:, Ward , ED,p., dwelling , family , )

    I’m patient because I haven’t started this level of detail so I’m going to be starting fresh–won’t have to edit old entries. I’ll continue to watch other lessons whilst you are refining this one. :-)

  4. Kaye says

    Ben, Is there any reason why you can’t put “Locality” in the Source Detail also? This would allow one to use the same Source for all Census Image Online for that year… would put all the specific info in the details, i.e. Locality, schedule, Ward, ED, p., dwelling, family, person of interest. I think it would be a lot easier to change existing sources. Although this would mean the locality wouldn’t show in the regular citation but would show up in the details attached. Just checked-the details don’t show on all reports generated…just some.

    • says

      Hi, Kaye. There’s no reason you can’t.

      I don’t because I want one source per census image so that I can have the image file attached. If I had only one census image online source for each year I wouldn’t be able to do that.

      —-Ben >@<

  5. Kaye says

    Hmm, using my “logic” in the above statement, would indicate that the “Date Viewed” should also be put in the details. Maybe I’m getting too far away from ESM’s recommendations.

  6. Ellen E Hilborn says

    Thank you! That helped me a lot. I will now be spending a lot of time redoing the census sources (I’ve got a lot of them) but I won’t have to redo them.

  7. Linda Manson says

    This is more a technical issue for the tutorial. I have downloaded and watched the census video and now want to go through and pause the video and do what you say, then restart. But when I pause it by clicking the screen, it does pause, but it WILL NOT restart, I have to reload the page and listen to the whole thing to the point I want to start again.

    I do NOT see the normal bar that has the pause/play button and the bar that shows how long the video is and where you are in the playing. Do I need to do something else to get this function??? I play these videos on my laptop when I am not where I can get on line a lot. this is very frustration. I like the videos better on the computer than the Iphone, but may have to go back to the videos I have on my Iphone in Itunes to do what I wnat to do. Any ideas???

  8. Karen Miller says

    I’m trying to understand why you recommend adding Online Census Record source fields such as schedule, ward, ED and page to the DETAIL area in individual records. It seems to me that those fields are logically part of the general information for the source along with a digital image of the page. On the other hand it does make sense to add “dwelling”, “family” and “person of interest” in the DETAIL area for each person citing that source. If the GEDCOM tag DETA, “detail”, is attached to each field in the template, why is it not safe to leave “schedule,” “ward,” “ED” and “page” as part of the source record?

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