Bruce’s Filing Cabinet 3 – Inward correspondence

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 third of four posts.


1.    I use the Lackey descriptions for Sources, as it is not really the type of source I am interested in but where/who it came from.  I do not see myself writing a book with full bibliography, and so the definitive splits used by Mills were overkill to me.

2.    Emails are classed as Letters because they are!  If an email just has a few bits of information, I cite that as to person (each person is a Source) and add the Citation Detail like Email: 23 July 2010.  Then I delete the email as I know WHO provided that information and when.  In that way, I might not have the actual evidence but I know who to contact (or blame) for a certain piece of data.

3.    I was initially filing emails in sub-folders of my Inbox relevant to the family (Fairhall –NSW, Fairhall -Canada etc.) but it became too hard to locate them once their numbers swelled, and if I’d transcribed the contents it should become either a “Letter” or just delete it as I’d probably never need to refer to it again, as per the next point.  If an email contains lots of data (subjective) I print it out and file it like a real written letter.

4.    I use TMG to file my informants and family’s email addresses, with a special Tag.  This has the added advantage of allowing me to keep the date of last contact, so in some cases there will be doubt as whether that email address may not be the current one.

The Tag sentence for Emails is:   [:CR:] [PP] EMail address <[D]> was [M]

Then I have a report to output those email addresses with some details of the person:

My Report is a special LIST OF EVENTS

Filter called List of Email Addresses.

( Principal-1 LIVING=Y  OR Principal-1 LIVING= ? )  AND TAG TYPE  LABEL=EMAIL END

Options for the Report Output:   Heading/Length

1 Prin-1 Surname (Selected) = Surname/15

2 Prin-1 Given = Given Name/15

Date – Year = Year/4

Memo=Email Address/40

Prin-1 ID =P1_ID/6

5.    I have a TMG Tag LETTERS.  This is used for any person who has sent me a “letter”.  It is used without a date or sort date to the Tag so it displays at the top of the person Tags.  In the MEMO field I list the file numbers of letters that person wrote to me as they are dealt with: 2007-34; 2007-78; 2009-12; 2010-32 etc.

The sentence for the tag reads: [P] was the author of letter/s ref: [M]

Then when I look at the data for someone in my database I know what letters they wrote and I can locate those letters if needed.  It can also be a List of Events Report from TMG if needed, but the printout could be rather large!!

6.    Each Letter is numbered at lower right on the front page, with the year it was written and a number in sequence as I dealt with it.  I don’t get too hung up about this as it’s just a filing system!  So the first letter/substantive email I dealt with in 2010 is numbered 2010-1, the next is 2010-2 and so on.  They are filed in that sequence in folders, so the file builds up as the year progresses.  Sometimes I open up a letter written last year that for some reason I’d ignored and held: it is numbered 2009-xx after whatever was the last of that year’s letters – no stress!

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 – Informants and Sources

This entry was posted in Articles 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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