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Genealogy 101: storing information

The third part of a series on charting your family ancestry

Now that you’ve decided to start gathering information about your family tree, it’s time to consider how to store that information.  With today’s technology, it can be very easy, as there are programs that will do all sorts of interesting stuff with the data you collect.

The program I use is called Legacy. According to the website, it is the second most popular genealogy program out there.  The most popular one is called Family Tree Maker.  The Top 10, in order of most popular first are as follows:

Family Tree Maker, $40

Legacy, $30

Roots Magic, $50

Ancestral Quest, $30

Family Historian, $47

Master Genealogist, $68

Doro Tree, $59

Genbox Family History, $30

Win Family, $120

Family Tree, $20

The prices noted are approximate, but it is important to note that some of them, Legacy included, have free versions which are perfectly good, just with a few less features.  For instance, the free version of Legacy doesn’t include the ‘global spellcheck’ - that means if you discover several hundred entries later that you’ve been misspelling the name of a city, you have to go to each individual record to make the corrections, when the paid version would correct them all in one quick step.  I’m just about ready to buy the paid version, as I’ve got well over 5,000 entries and have indeed misspelt something that appears on a large number of them.

One feature that I particularly like, is the relationship calculator.  Once you’ve got all the names entered, you can tell it to calculate how anyone on the list is related to you, or to anyone else on the list.  It’s great; the machine does all the work figuring out whether cousin George is a first cousin twice removed, or a fifth cousin once removed.

Another great feature is that most of these programs will export your files, or import someone else’s files, in a format called gedcom that they call all read.  This means that if cousin George has done a lot of work on his branch of the family, he can send you a copy of his gedcom file for you to easily add to your file.

All of the programs have different formats that you can print you family tree out on; from your parents down to their great grandchildren; or from yourself up, with just the parents of each person listed.  Some will print wall charts (the first five on the above list do), others don’t.

And of course, there are many different programs available that I haven’t mentioned.  Check them out and make your own decision.