Days of the Dead Calendar

Skulls

Creative Commons photographieartistique

Around this time of year many cultures celebrate the passing of ancestors. Death records are often not seen as important as births and marriages, but without them the picture of past lives is incomplete. The here-say nature of much information in civil death registration and lack of detail typically recorded in church burial registers contribute to the perception of these sources as inferior. A consequence of this view is that indexing and digitisation of death records lags behind birth and marriage records, which in turn makes them less accessible. Like most people researching British ancestors I paid less attention to death and burial records than I should have. So it is time to assess my death data.

All the major genealogy programs include calendar reports, but these are based on birthdays and marriage anniversaries, excluding death anniversaries. For the 50 Marriage Mondays series, I used an anniversary calendar as a blogging prompt, but found the lack of calendar functions and print format outputs (pdf, rtf) limiting.

DearMYRTLE recently demonstrated how to create a calendar and make repeating events in ‘30 Ways in 30 Days to SHARE A MEMORY – Perpetual Family Calendar‘.  Then she showed how to share a calendar by allowing access to other Google calendar users or by embedding a calendar in a website in ‘Tweaking that Google Calendar‘.

Myrt added events one by one for her demonstration. My death events are already recorded in my genealogy software, so I didn’t want to re-enter them. Google Calendar can import data from a csv file containing many events. The first step was to extract the data from Family Tree Maker 2010. I used a custom report that contained the name, date and place of death, exported as a csv file. Then used excel to sort out which entries had complete death dates, partial and estimated dates, and some horrors I’ll say no more about. I am not going to go into detail on the extraction and data preparation as each genealogy program has different export options. I will warn you that excel is not friendly to dates prior to 1900, and that you have to carefully manipulate formats to get the dates in the correct form. Finally, I exported a single excel sheet as a csv file ready for Google Calendar.

Google Calendar requires columns with the headings:

Subject Start Date Start Time End Date End Time All Day Event Description Location Private

If you have got that far, the rest is easy. Here is how:

And here is the Days of the Dead Calendar:

© Sue Adams 2015

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