Best practices for family events

I’m a brand new user to Gramps, and started my journey only last week. When adding children to the families, I have linked the birth event to the family events, too, with the role of the Family being Family.
When I export the birthday report however, some of the birthdays appear twice, as family events, with the icon that signifies marriage, incidentally. It happens with two families with all birth events at that family, but does not happen at two other families and their birth events. What is it that I might have overlooked here? Is there a best practice for Gramps that I might have not followed causing this problem? Or is this more likely to be a bug?


Personally, I only add the birth event to the child it being implicitly understood that the child is in a family with their parents. The child has their relationship to parents, the default obviously being “Birth” parents. When users indicate putting other events into the Family, other users warn to only put the marriage type events (marriage, divorce, annulment, etc) there.

If you feel the need to share the birth event, share it with each parent with the roles “Father” and “Mother”. I am not 100% sure what this does to the report but the role for the parents are not “Primary” roles. “Primary” is the default role for an individual, the child’s birth event role, “Family” is the primary role for those events.

As with everything in Gramps, try it out and test it with the reports you use. You already did it with the Family events and was not satisfied with the results. Try it with the shared roles with parents to see what the reports do.

The “Best Practices” are what works for you.

In many ways, the whole purpose of Gramps is to organize information into a Tree. This is done by associating data being entered with other data in the Tree.

The association can be adding one object of data to another (via explicit References or Associations) and can be characterized by a Role.

So wherever possible, creating the typical association has been made as transparent as possible. In many cases, Gramps can guess the correct association by how you add the data. But the association process can become so transparent that we don’t think to mention it anymore.

The most basic of these are:

  1. Associating Events with a Person
  2. Associating a Person with parents

Both of these invisibly add Roles between the items as the are created.

Adding an Event will guess a “Primary” role when adding an Event to a Person or a “Family” role when adding to a Relationship. And Gramps also guesses what Event type is most likely to be added: Birth, Death, Burial, Marriage or Divorce.

(The Primary role is a vital concept. But it is so transparent that it will probably bite you unexpectedly. Adding a new Event guesses a Role but sharing an Event {from the clipboard or selecting from Existing} will default to an “Unknown” role. When the Person has a Birth/Death/Burial/Marriage but it doesn’t show in summaries or reports, it probably has an Unknown role.)

Adding Parents (or offspring) assumes an implicit association of Birth relationship roles between persons: 2 persons being heterosexual mother & father to their biological child. With the exception of adding a Child within the Relationship editor floating dialog, there is no explicit verification of this. (Adding a child through the dialog has a Child Reference editor verification step. A ‘Birth’ relationship is assumed when adding children in the Relationship View.) Depending on Preferences settings, Gramps will guess the nature of the Parents relations (Married. Not Married, Unknown) and the surname of the Offspring or Father.

There’s a “How do I…” article for Adding a child. But in reviewing that article, it assumes the reader would be aware of the implicit nature of the relationship of a Person’s Birth Event to their Parents.

There is a topic suggestion that someone write an article on specifying an adopted or stepchild, but no one has taken up that challenge.

There’s a Gramps Enhancement Proposal about applying Family Events to Persons. (Prompted by the Marriage Event Question maillist thread.)

Your question is about the opposite, using Person events as Family events.

Both increase the granularity & decrease ambiguity but add complexity similar to double-entry bookkeeping. While that may be the international standard system for finance, it needs an Accounting degree to master.

Why make Gramps that painful to use?

Thank you both for your input!
@DaveSch: I hope I won’t need to change my approach of entering stuff for each report I would like to produce :smiley: so in my interpretation, “best practice” should be a way of entering stuff that works with all built-in report formats. I hope I can figure a way. To be honest, I have the birth of a child added as family event, as, if I remember correctly, in the first family I created, it got added there automatically. So, I decided to add it manually later to other families, too. Also, if the report was consistent on misrepresenting the birth event with the “marriage” icon, I’d get the issue, but it does it in two families (4 children) and doesn’t do it in other families, and I can’t find what’s the difference in the records.

@emyoulation: is it possible, that birth events of children got added to the family events automatically? This is what I remember (and why I added those later when it didn’t happen), but I can’t reproduce it with an empty database.
I am trying to use the software in accordance with the manual, so thanks for the links to those articles in the Wiki. For adding children, I have always used the family view.

So, what I have done is to remove the reference for the child birth event from the family for one case where it appears separately in the report, and for one where it doesn’t. Then I added the reference back. Of course, removing the event reference removes it from the report. Adding an event reference makes it appear in the report again for the one that appeared before, but the other one still doesn’t appear. The roles seem okay (in the family reference, the role is Family, for the person it’s Primary), and I have no idea what’s the difference. For the persons, the References only refer to the relevant families and the associations tab is empty. For the family, if double clicking on the children, the relationship is set to birth.

Even based on your very detailed comment, I have no idea what have gone wrong here, what’s different between events. What else could be problematic with the records?

Thank you for your detailed responses!

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Adding/Sharing the Birth event at the Family level is completely redundant and actually counterproductive. Birth/Death/Burial should only be added to the Person (which defaults to the Primary role).

It is the adding of the Person as offspring in the biological Parents relationship that adds all the Family associations needed by Gramps. This will make the Event appropriately visible in the timelines of people in those inferred secondary roles (parents, siblings, offspring).

I hope that you meant the Relationship category view rather than the Families category view.

I have found the Families view to be of very limited utility. It’s just too many steps to navigate the Tree from there.

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Thank you for all the advice!
I have been using the Families category view, based on some YouTube video. But you are right, the Relationship category view seems much more intuitive, especially when the depth of the tree starts to grow.

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I second @emyoulation. Birth events are for individuals. Primary for the child and shared with the biological parents with the roles “Mother” and “Father”. Events in a Family are for the events that bring (or separate) the two people at the head of the family, the parents, together.

I also second @emyoulation on the use of the Relationship view as my primary working view. From here you can add and edit families and individuals. It shows all of the closest relationships for whoever is the Active person. Their Parental families and their siblings. Their spouses and their children.

In the Family view, that is what you see. a list of families by parents. When adding or editing, all you see is that one family.

In the Relationship view, making another person the Active person brings up a new set of relationships.

That is my advice. It works for me. Other users do use other views as their main add and edit areas. Each views has their pros and cons. We each determine what works best for ourselves.

If you want help trying to figure out this head-scratcher, we would probably need to see a screenshot of the family events lists. One for a family that is reporting as expected and one from a family that is not. You can mask the dates and names to preserve their anonymity. But following the advice above of where to place certain types of events will solve this issue.

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I have an other question but it’s related to events so I decided not to create a new thread.
I have a picture of a wedding with many people on it from the family, so it makes sense to me to add the picture to the event of the wedding and also to all the people who are on the picture. I also know who was one of the witnesses.
Should I add my witness to the event as participant / witness? Should I add other people to the event, too? I didn’t check out all the report types, but for the witness, in the full individual report, under the Family heading, the wedding appears with the note “witness” in parentheses, but only the event location and date are mentioned, the primary participants don’t, so it’s kind of confusing for me if this is intended to be used this way. Similarly, if I add someone to the event with some other role, the wedding shows up in their report, without the mention of the primary participants which is confusing if I add all the weddings and all the people attended the ceremony.
What would be the proper way of dealing with this kind of issue?

I would ad any people that I know of, and make a role/relation to the Event and if you know the relation to the people married, I would have made a relation to them to… i.e. “friends of…” or similar…

I have found multiple times that some of those people later are found to be in closer relations, i.e. family members or later married to someone in the family…

I would have added the image to the Event, and then made links to each person or just added the image to everyone and the event…

If you are adding group photos to the records of those in the photo, you can ‘tag’ each person individually with the Photo Tagging Gramplet.


A witness at a wedding should be added to the event with the role of “Witness”.

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I join the wedding photos to the wedding events as illustrations.

But a photo can be a source too. So I create a source “xyz wedding photos” and join the media of that photo to that source as its main document and I create a “participants to xyz wedding” citations and I add it too to the wedding event to show why this event is shared with persons not cited on the wedding certificate.
Plan B: If you don’t want to share the photo citation with the wedding event, you can add an attribute with that citation to the top part of the shared event each time you shared it with a participant on the photo. You could even create as many citations as you recognize participants using their face into citation’s medias and shared that citation with the attribute of the relevant person.

Of course I share the relevant part of the photo with the person’s face into him/her personal medias.

What are people doing to document census records?

I’ve started out creating family events for this which makes the event visible for both parents but not for the children or any other relatives living at the same address. Is this the right approach?
Do I just need to also add the event as a personal event for each child/relative?

My current method:

  1. Create a Media object with the electronic copy of the census record
  2. Create a Citation for the census record and attach the Media object in the gallery
  3. Create a Census event for the family and add the Citation
  4. Add the same Census event to any children or relatives also mentioned in the census as being in the same household

Any help or advice would be much appreciated. I’ve got lots of census records to enter and I don’t fancy getting it wrong!

I share each census event with all individuals who are listed in the household (including non-family members). I do not share the event with any families.

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I’ve been entering Census data in a way that will have to be redone. I’m not looking forward to that.

Because of the task ahead, I just watched a video on the subject of using Forms for recording Census data. It takes a number of side trips that actually undermines the attraction of Forms. I would, at the very least, arrange Gramps windows to use only half the vertical screen space. Then position Census image so I could transcribe without any of the Application swaps.

But there’s certainly potential in the approach.

Then the following thread on the Gramps Users maillist pointed out an interesting tripping point to avoid: Entering Census data using the Form gramplet I have a couple of questions.

Time to buy a second monitor :slightly_smiling_face:. My son uses three on his desk.

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Do you have tablet? Most can be configured as an auxiliary screen. Although it requires utilities on both the computer & tablet.

You could also surf the online Census archives on the tablet without the computers even being linked too. But you’d have the added pain of transcribing the URL or citation instead of just copy&paste.

No, I mean a secondary monitor attached to the same computer - you can move different applications or windows to different monitors, but they are all running on the same computer, so that you can drag and copy and paste as usual.

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