Adding a Custom Event to a PAF Family Group Record
If Personal Ancestral File Individual Edit screen does not contain and event you need, you can add it as a custom event.
Experienced genealogists recognize the advantages of seeing as many events as possible on a family group record. The default family group record printed by Personal Ancestral File (PAF) displays only five events for each individual: Born, Christened, Died, Buried, and Married. But PAF can accommodate far more events such as military service, or sold land. This article explains why and how to add a custom event to a PAF family group record.
Value of Adding Custom Events to Family Group Records
When genealogists can see most of the known events in a person’s life they can guess where other events likely occurred. So a well-documented family group record is an important research tool for finding new evidence.
A good family group record with a variety of events is important to the analysis of the sources. It serves as a time-line against which you can compare information in newly discovered sources. As you compare sources you will find they either corroborate each other, or show discrepancies. This will help to judge their relevance and reliability.
Good researchers strive to be thorough in what they research and the sources they list. Thoroughness is the first element of the Genealogical Proof Standard. A thorough listing of a variety of events helps researchers understand and track the family better. It demonstrates quality research. When all the events are listed and source-documented, other researchers can better understand our reasoning and conclusions.
In all these endeavors we are helped by well-documented family group records showing many kinds of events in each person's life.
When and What Events to Add
Add an event as soon as you find documentation for it. Add all events—the more the better. For example, add each census for each family member throughout their lives. Also include joining or leaving churches, confirmations, acquiring or sale of land, migrations, citizenship changes, jury duty, law suits, will probated, paid taxes, obituaries, mentioned in newspaper articles, new job, draft registration, military service, serving as a witness, bondsman, or godparent, working on the county road crew, jail, and warnings out. For all such events enter the date, place, cite your source, and give a brief preliminary evaluation of that source on the family group record.
How to Add a Custom Event to PAF
If an Edit Individual screen in PAF does not contain an event field that you need, you can add it as a custom event. When you add a custom event, you can choose between a list of pre-defined custom events or add your own. You can print these custom events on your family group records and other forms.]
Steps to add a custom event
| TIP: You can add the same custom event as many times as needed to the same individual. For example, if an ancestor appears in more than one census, you could add a custom census event for 1880, and then add another for 1900, and another for 1910.|
- Open the Personal Ancestral File Program.
- Find the person to whom you want to add a custom event.
- Open the Edit Individual window by clicking on the person’s name.
- Click the Options button (upper-right corner of Edit Individual window).
- Click New Event/Attribute . . .
- If the custom event is on the list, click it, and click the Select button. If the custom event is not on the list click the New button to add it to the list.
- Type the date and place of the custom event.
- Double-click the “s” (source footnote) at the end of the place field. Then select or create a new source footnote citation for the custom event.
Note:You can also add custom events from the Edit Marriage window following the same steps. This is intended for marriage or divorce related types of custom events.
How to Print a Custom Event on a PAF Family Group Record
After you save any edits that add a custom event, you can print that custom event on the family group record:
Steps to print a custom event
- Highlight the individual you would like to print on a family group record.
- Click the Print button.
- Click the Family Group tab on the Reports and Charts window.
- Check (click) the Include “other” events box (bottom half of the window).
- Click the Print button, and click OK.
 The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual (Orem, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, 2000), 1-2.
 Personal Ancestral File 5.2—User’s Guide, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Family and Church History Department, 2002), 55.