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February 13, 2007

Pastfinder Computer Users’ Group

Genealogy Programs


Personal Ancestral File

Since most members use FamilyTreeMaker for Windows ( FTW) we’ll start each procedure using that program and introduce Personal Ancestal File (PAF) only to show where procedures between the two programs differ.

Where to get: FamilyTreeMaker is available from and in local computer stores for between $30 and $40. PAF is available as a free download from the LDS site or on the Pastfinders’ CD.

Getting Familiar: Before starting any program it’s useful to see what the program can do, The icons in the tool bar in FTW are as follows: Go Back, Go Forward, Print, Family View, Pedigree View, Web Search Results, Tree Charts, Reports, Index of Individuals, Bookmarks, History, Help and Research Journal. We’ll visit each of these in the future but be curious and check a few of them out on your own. There’s also the menu bar that starts with FILE, EDIT, VIEW etc. We’ll look at some of those as we go along but everything that the program can do for you is embedded in these two bars.

In PAF the icons are Open Family File, Import, Export, Print Reports, Edit Individual, Edit Notes, Multimedia, Add Individual, Add Family, Find, RIN/MRIN Search, Dependency List, Go to Home Person, Merge/Match, Create Web Page, About LDS, and Help.

Entering Data: The place to start entering data is the Family View. That should be the view that opens when you start the program. If not, you can get there by clicking the Family View Icon at the top of the page. This view shows the husband and the wife and the children. Links are shown for the husband’s and the wife’s parents. Enter the data that is asked for; Name, birth date and place, death date and place and marriage date and place. For each child, also enter the child’s sex. Note that for the children, the last name will automatically be entered as the father’s surname; if that is not correct, you can overtype it. After the Name Field, Birth Place Field , Death Place Field and Marriage Place Field you’ll see a scroll symbol. Click on that to enter source data. We’ll cover source data more below.

Below the Husband’s and the wife’s data entry box, you’ll find four additional fields in which to enter data. Click on Edit to add additional information. Additional fields are Edit, Spouse, Scrapbook and Web Search.

Under Edit you’ll find General, Notes, Medical, Address and Options. Under General you can add any titles the person may have earned and also any nicknames under Also Known As (AKA). You’ll also find a box entitled FACTS where you can enter facts about the individual. You can enter a fact in the box or click on the arrow and select a fact from a long list of facts. Most of these listed facts can be exported to another program through a GEDCOM file which we’ll discuss later. Made up facts may not be transported.

Under Notes you can add anything you want to flesh out this person. Medical is useful for noting any health problems with the individual, especially any that might be hereditary.

The Address allows you to enter the person’s address whether a present address for a living person or an address where the person lived at one time.

Options allows you to exclude that person from calendars, add a reference number to the individual and indicate a non-standard married name format for the person.

Under Spouse you’ll find an option to enter an additional spouse which will open a new spouse’s data box to enter data for an additional spouse. You can choose which one is to be the preferred spouse.

Scrapbook allows you to enter pictures and indicate in which report they should be shown. The scrapbook applies to the individual that is selected in the Family View.

Web Search will search the web for information on the selected individual. There will be many results but most will not be applicable. Those that are applicable may be wrong so tread softly. You’ll have to register with FamilyTreeMaker to use this option.

After you’ve completed the Family Page, you’ll generally want to go back to the husband’s and the wive’s parents. You may find it easier to follow the male line for as far as you have data. This keeps you concentrated on one line and perhaps the same set of data. Take that back as far as you can and then go back to the first wife and enter her parents. Follow her father’s line as far as you can. Eventually you’ll get everybody that you have data for done. But you’ll never be truly done. Every new person that you find leads you to two more people that you don’t know. The further you go, the behinder you get!

In PAF, the family view is similar except that the parents of the Husband and Wife are also shown and allow you to enter data for them. Double click on the person for whom you want to enter data. That opens an EDIT INDIVIDUAL dialogue box You must start with the Husband. The layout is different from FTW but most of the items are the same.

Source Data: Source reference should be to the best source that you’ve examined for the information. If you read the original at the Archives, so indicate but if you read an electronic transcription of the original on a CD or on the Web, indicate that as well as it may have been transcribed wrong. Source data is important to provide further information to those who follow. It’s too bad that everyone doesn’t include sources just to give you a warm feeling when reading other genealogies.

The program allows you to enter a source one time and then refer to it often as other individuals or events invoke the same document.

Click the source icon next to the individual or event that you want to provide a source for. Unless you are sure that the source has never been entered before, click on FIND MASTER SOURCE to search for it. If you don’t find it, enter the title of the source, the page and any text you would like to appear in the footnote and then click on Edit Master Source. Provide all of the data requested here.

When Find Master Source shows that another individual or event uses that same source, click on it and then add new page numbers or text as appropriate. If a source already exists for the person or event, click NEW and FIND MASTER SOURCE or enter a new source as appropriate. If you don’t enter NEW first, your new source will overwrite the existing one. If you should create a duplicate source, select the one you want to remove and click on delete. Edit the original Master Source to add the new information.

In FTW you can choose an individual from a list of all individuals by pressing VIEW/INDEX of INDIVIDUALS or F2. In PAF, click the INDIVIDUAL tab.

In PAF, in the EDIT INDIVIDUAL view, click on the “s” to the right of the event you want to source and click on INDIVIDUAL SOURCES. If the source that you want to invoke is not listed, click on NEW at the bottom and enter the source data in the form provided.

There are several articles that can help with the proper way to cite sources. It’s important to start right. You can try this site.

Once you’ve entered all of that data, what do you do with it? There are several options for presenting the combined dataset; you can choose the one that serves your immediate needs. You can view the data in one of two views. The first is the Family View where you entered the data. The second is the PEDIGREE VIEW that shows the selected number of generations starting with the selected individual. Or, you can choose a report format that presents what you want. Most outputs can be found under VIEW/REPORTS or click on the Reports icon. We’ll look at the available reports one at a time.

Family Group Sheet: This report essentially duplicates what the Family Page shows; husband, wife and children.

Outline Descendant Tree: This is a very useful report because it shows all of the descendants of the selected individual, indented by generation. After you’ve created a report, you can click on CONTENTS and then can select items to include for each individual, which individuals to include and the number of generations to show.

Genealogy Report: This report can be formatted in three ways; Register format (descendant oriented), NGS Quarterly format (descendant oriented) or Ahnentafel (ancestor oriented.).

The two descendant oriented formats (like the Outline Descendant Tree above) start with an ancestor and show the descendants. Appropriate if you’re doing an ancestor’s genealogy but if you’re doing yours, you’ll want to use the Ahnentafel format. In each case, the selected individual is the starting person for the report. Select an individual in the Family View or Pedigree View and then choose REPORTS and the report type that you want.

Kinship Report: Choose an individual and select this report from the report menu and see how that individual is related to everyone in your database. PAF has a relationship calculator that shows the relationship between any two selected individuals in more detail that FTW’s Kinship Report. Go to TOOLS/RELATIONSHIP CALCULATOR,

Custom: This can be the most useful report of all, especially as a guide to further research. In it, you can select the data that you want to include. You can choose, for instance, all individuals and an event or event location and then sort the report to extract what you want. For example, choose death location for one field and the individuals for another field. Then sort by death location and you’ll have a sorted list that you can use to visit cemeteries or Town Halls seeking further data on the individuals that died in the locations that you select. You can extract and print just the locations that you select. Another use would be to choose individuals and birth dates to find candidates for the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 or Civil War

In PAF you go to FILE/PRINT REPORTS and a tabbed listing of available reports pops up. Most are similar to those found in FTW but one is unique and very useful It’s called LISTS and it allows the sorting of data that you’ve entered and produces a list. I won’t list them all but here are a few; individuals or places sorted alphabetically, end of line individuals, sources, duplicate individuals and unlinked individuals. As with FTW you can also create custom reports.

Printing/exporting reports: Once you’ve created your report you have the option to export it or print it. If you’d like to edit the report, you can export it. Reports follow a Boiler Plate format and thus are somewhat stilted and contain duplicate statements. Editing them can make them much more readable. Most reports can be exported as Acrobat (PDF), Plain Text (TXT) or Word Processor (RTF) format. You may not be able to edit PDF documents and TXT documents may not include all of the formatting so the best choice is RTF which can be opened and edited in any wordprocessor. Note that some older versions of FTW did not include an export function. To edit reports in that case you need to print the report TO FILE using a GENERIC TEXT ONLY PRINTER. Go to CONTROL PANEL and select PRINTERS/FAXES and click on ADD PRINTER. Select FILE as the printer port and GENERIC TEXT ONLY as the printer. Now print the report using that printer and tell it what file name to use and where to put it. Note that the text will be ugly because it uses the font, Courier, but any word processor can replace that with Times or any font of your choice.

To print the report directly instead of exporting it to edit, go to FILE/PRINT REPORT and select the number of copies. Note that you can not select to print all of the even pages and then all of the odd pages to get back to back printing but you can if you export it and then print it through your wordprocessor.

PAF does not support exporting the reports as any type of text file so you’ll have to rely on the GENERIC TEXT ONLY PRINTER to create an editable text file. In PAF go to FILE/PRINT REPORTS. Select the chart type you want to print or click on BOOKS to choose an Ahnentafel or Modified Register report. Select from a host of options including PRINT PREVIEW to see what it will look like. Again, you can’t print back to back without exporting it.