Bruce’s Filing Cabinet 2 – Exhibits

At the 4th Annual TMG Sydney Conference in April 2011 Bruce Fairhall, Convenor of the conference, shared with us his methods for using TMG as his filing cabinet. He gave us a four-page handout which he has kindly allowed me to share on the blog. This the the second of four posts.


1.    The system for exhibits and other references revolves around the Person ID# as allocated by TMG.  So, with my system now running I cannot totally renumber my people, but why would I want to?  Before implementing it, I moved some people around by renumbering single persons, then renumbered my whole data from ID#1 (me).  If I delete a person, or do a Merge Persons, I use that “spare” number later, by pressing F2 on the Add Person screen, then I can select and use that unused number so it’s not wasted.  So every person in my data set has a fixed ID number.

2.    All exhibits are External, and are in a folder named \Exhibits (in a customised location so I can find it easily!!).  Turn on Thumbnails and the images can be seen.  Perhaps I could have had sub-folders with Primary, Images, Certificates, Documents etc. all separated – but if I have just the one large folder I can easily see what exhibits I have for any given person.

3.    I use leading zeros so any sorting of my exhibits would put them in numerical order, and all people are nominally given 6 digits when I name my exhibits.  This was very optimistic as potentially it gave me “space” in my data for 999,999 people – probably five digits (capability 99,999 people) would have been sufficient!  So TMG Person #1234 is called 001234 for filing exhibit purposes.  Any exhibit for that person has the number 001234 at the start of its file name.  Then when that folder is sorted according to “File Name”, all the exhibits for each person are viewable together because the first 6 digits are the ID number.

4.    Exhibits are named by person Surname –Given Name then a description of what the exhibit is.  I started this a bit late and so what could be a strict naming system isn’t!  It could be very tightly defined.  So, some exhibits for our TMG #1234 could be like:

001234 Bright –John BCert 1876.jpg

001234 Bright –John MCert 1900.jpg

001234 Bright –John EngineerCert 1927.gif

001234 Bright –John DCert 1953.jpg

001234 Bright –John Biography.rtf

and so on …

5.    If I have documents (photocopies or originals) I copy them then place them into a Family Documents lever arch file with that ID# at top right, in numerical order.  So all documents relating to John Bright would be at 1234 in my folder.  Marriage Certificates are a problem, so I number by which party is closest to my line, whether the male or female (my discretion – as it’s only a system not a definitive process!!).  The folders have dividers for each thousand, and at the front is a print out (Word file) that is an index in Surname, Given Name order with the ID#.  So a marriage certificate will be indexed under both parties.  If I want to find Alfred Gumbleton, I look in the index under Gumbleton, Alfred and he is ID #3022 so at that location in the lever arch file will be any documents for him.  Likewise William Fairhall ID #2766.

6.    Other exhibits are usually attached via the relevant Tag, so Marriage Certificate, wedding groups etc. are attached to the Marriage Tag, headstone photographs to the Burial Tag etc.

7.    I really need to include original photo prints in this system, but haven’t done so yet.  It would be possible to have plastic sleeves with the prints filed again in TMG ID# order, with an index at the front.  Finding suitable plastic archival sleeves, to cater for several sizes of prints, was my main stumbling block, but I have one from Gould’s that will do the job.  Or I could combine it with my document index.  One day …

8.    I attach a primary exhibit (portrait or similar) to the person using the Exhibit icon on the toolbar.  The Reference field in the TMG Properties is the name of the person who provided it.  I also include that name in the Exhibit Description, as:  Birth Certificate – John Bright 1876 (from Fred Bright).

9.    I have some special Tags for family groups (IMG-Family), historical photos/images (IMG-Hist), Wills that are in a text (.rtf) format (DOC-Will) and so on. As my major archive is in HTML format via Second Site, my exhibits then are icons attached to the relevant Tag sentence, and can be opened easily by the viewer.

10.   I do have a few exhibits that are photos of e.g. a church used by several people, a document about a ship on which several people travelled etc.  These exhibits are given a descriptive file name so I can refer to them as needed – no numbering is included as they don’t refer to a specific person.

11.   Exhibit size for image scans or cropped photos etc. has been roughly standardised as follows:

– Scans of precious documents/photos are filed apart from TMG, full size scans in .PNG or .TIF format in 300dpi

– Primary exhibits (portraits) are scanned to 75-95 dpi, and approx. 300 pixels high (see web site) which displays as a good size image in Second Site (see web site).  Thumbnails in TMG Preferences are set to 200 pixels which is good in the TMG people data screen.

– Other exhibits are scanned 75-95 dpi, up to 950 pixels wide for portrait orientation images and up to 650 pixels high for landscape orientation.  Viewers can scan up/down or across with keyboard to view the whole image in Second Site etc.  Older monitors are 72/75dpi, but more recent monitors are closer to 95dpi – but there is little viewing difference.  My current monitor has a screen 410mm (17.4”) wide set to 1440 pixel resolution and it is therefore operating at 83dpi.

Note:  This process has been documented for sharing with other TMG users, and is not copyright or secret.  I’d appreciate suggestions as to better clarity etc. if any changes to this procedure might make it easier for others to understand it.  It is MY system, and that doesn’t mean it’s right or the best: the main thing is that it works for me.

Bruce’s website is

Next week – Inward correspondence

This entry was posted in Articles and tagged by Carole Riley. Bookmark the permalink.

About Carole Riley

I am a family history researcher in Sydney, Australia and specialise in New South Wales land records. I have served as a Vice-President of the Society of Australian Genealogists and Editor of their journal, and founded the TMG User Group in Sydney.

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