Databases and Colors

Do you think of your genealogy research as a tree or a database? I realize many people fall into the ‘tree’ group, but I am in the ‘database’ group.

Because I think of my data as a database, I want computer software to manage that data versus only using an online tree. I use RootsMagic to manage my database. You might say, ‘but that’s family tree software’ and I would say you are correct. RootsMagic is great software to manage family tree based research.

However, I don’t just research my tree, I research their FAN club (Friends Associates and Neighbors) as well as potential lines. And all of this research ultimately ends up in my RootsMagic file. Since this is one fairly large database, I have to have a way to visually keep track of the various lines in my research.

That’s where the color coding feature in RootsMagic comes in handy. I started by assigning different colors to various lines of my research.

Besides assigning a color to ancestors along a line, I’ve also assigned that same color to the descendants on that line. (Note: Living descendants are colored LIME so that I can quickly identify living people.)

Not only do I use colors to identify my direct lines, I am using colors to identify some of the lines of my Crawford research. I am using BLUE for my Crawford line and MAROON for the set of lines found in Garrard County, Kentucky during the same time period as my Crawford Ancestor.

There is one Crawford line that seems to be popular in other CRAWFORD trees: the line of Alexander and Mary (McPheeters) Crawford. I have color coded that line GREEN. 

I have colored the James Crawford (Sarah Vansant) line YELLOW. This is the line in Fleming County, Kentucky that has been confused with the James Crawford who married Rebecca Anderson.

There is another James Crawford living in Fleming County, KY at the same time as James Crawford and Sarah Vansant. The line of this  James Crawford (married to Elizabeth Stockton) is color coded AQUA.

One of my close yDNA matches descends from William Nelson Crawford. There are autosomal DNA matches between this person and myself and between this person and descendants of James and Martha (Knight) Crawford. This line is shaded TEAL.

Another yDNA match descends from Edward Crawford. This line is color coded SILVER.

This color coding of the various CRAWFORD families in my research is helping me discover connections between the families.

Thus, when I found a Sellers wife as the daughter of John and Rebekah (Douglas) Crawford, I was able to color code those descendants maroon.

Since I use RootsMagic to create a website for my data, the colors also transfer to my online site.

To summarize, I have assigned the color coding as follows:

  • Red — BRILES
  • Lime — Living
  • Blue — my CRAWFORD line
  • Fuchsia — MENTZER
  • Yellow — James Crawford and Elizabeth Van Sandt of Fleming County, KY
  • Aqua – James Crawford and Elizabeth Stockton of Fleming County, KY
  • Silver – Edward Crawford (yDNA match)
  • Maroon – lines for Crawford James, William and Rebekah Douglas Crawford families of Garrard County, KY (the line I suspect I connect to)
  • Green – Alexander and Mary (McPheeters) line
  • Navy – HAMMOND
  • Purple – CURREY
  • Brown – Thompson ‘same name’ line
  • Teal – William Nelson Crawford line (DNA match)
  • Gray – not used (too close to silver to distinguish)

I find this feature of RootsMagic very useful when working with my various lines. However, I could use more colors!