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Computer Users’ Group

April 20, 2011


When you have found some family history, you need a place to store and organize the data and put it into meaningful formats for you and those that you want to share it with. There are many genealogical programs that will perform this task for you. We’ll cover four, three of which are free.


You can see a comparison of programs at this site but it does not include the free ones that we will discuss: The one we will discuss is rated number one.


Basically, a genealogical program accepts input in the form of a person’s name, dates of birth, marriage and death, spouse, children siblings and parents. Other data should include your source for the data, other facts such as date and place of immigration, military or other service, special awards and any other significant facts. Repeat this for everyone that you have information on. Accept the fact that your job will never be done but soon you will flesh out a family that will grow and grow as you add more people.


Entering data is basically the same for all genealogy programs; the screens may look different and terminology may vary but the principle remains the same. Just learn the special navigation rules for the program that you are using. And if you find it necessary to change programs ,your data can be moved from one to another, generally with no loss.


We’ll start with the free program, My Heritage. Family Tree Builder. Here’s what the download site ( says


The best free genealogy software in the world

19,392,173 downloads so far, but who's counting...

36 languages to choose from


My Heritage also has a web site where you can post your genealogy. You can include up to 250 people and it’s free; after that you can pay for up to 2500 people or pay even more for an unlimited number of people. You can post your genealogy as simple as clicking on Publish in the menu bar. But be careful!! If you have more thatn the 250 people, they will give you a little time to become a member or else you’ll have to take it down. Once you have data posted on the website, you can click on Smart Matches and you will get a list of all the other sites that have information on the people in your tree. It will show names from your site and the matching site and you can click on them to show each other entry for that person so you can see if it’s a true match. You can visit the other site to see what’s posted if the site is open to visitors; too many are private and you can’t become a member until pay and join My Heritage.


Start by downloading the program and trying it out and learn about it by using it. It is the most complex program but it does offer many nice features. As a measure of the complexity, the Users’ Manual is 430 pages long including a Quick Start section that is a mere 71 pages long.

Go to Help to see the manual and search through it to answer specific questions. We’ll click on Help and then on Users’ Guide and then on Chapter 2: Quick Tour. Clicking on any item will explain what that does so you can get a complete tour of what the menu bar has to offer.


If you have used another genealogical program and have entered data into it, you can use that program to create a GEDCOM file that you can import into Family Tree Builder. You can export just a portion of your tree to keep the number of people under 250. Select a person and include him and his ancestors or descendants. Otherwise, enter what you know into the program.


Smart Matches make this a useful program to use and if you have relatives in a foreign country, it may be especially useful since it has a great international following.


When you open the program, you’ll be asked for the name of your project and after entering that you will presented with a place to enter data. Continue entering until you’ve included everything that you know. Or, you can click on File/Import to import a GEDCOM file.


We’ll open the file called William Dill. I went through my FamilyTreeMaker file, selected Export as GEDCOM and then selected a person and his descendants until the number of people was less than 250. I exported it as William Dill and then imported into Family Tree Builder.


The Person and Family items on the top toolbar allow you to enter data for the selected person or his family. Charts lists the charts that are available. You can select one and send it to My Heritage and they will produce it in a large format and mail it to you (for a fee). We’ll click on Chart Wizard which will show us what each available type of chart looks like.


The next item is Reports and it lists all of the reports that can be created. The Book report creates a report listing everyone and his or her relationships. It also includes many small trees that show a tree for each family. There’s also a Timeline report that lists all events in the order in which they occurred and a Relationship report that lists each person and his or her relationship to the main person. The Publishing link will allow you to publish your tree on the My Heritage Web Site. If you accidentally publish over the 250 person limit they will give you a few days to upgrade or remove what you published. If you’re under the limit, go ahead and publish it.


Once it’s published, you can click on Smart Matches and the system find all of the other web sites that include your people or what it thinks are your people. It make take several days for this to be completed but when it is, you can compare what other sites have to what you have. Where the other site is public, you can see what they’ve posted. You’ll have to join to confirm the matches or ask to join a non-public site.


Another free program is that put out by the Church of Latter Day Saints called Personal Ancestral File (PAF). You can go here and click on Download free Family History Software.


Start the program by naming the file you are about to create. You are then taken to a page where you can list as little or as much information about yourself as you want. You will then be presented with a Pedigree Chart with the the first person highlighted. Double Click on that person and you will be presented with a chart into which you can enter everything that you know about that person. Continue through the chart until you’ve entered everything you know about everybody.


If you have data in another program, use that program to export your file as a GEDCOM file and then import that file into PAF by going to File/Import.


The program offers three views of your data; Pedigree Chart, Family and Individual. To see what else you can do with the program. Point to File and click to see what you can do. Then slide the cursor next to Edit and then to each of the headings, noting what each offers. Note particularly the items listed under Tools. The Icons under the headings are shortcuts to many of the items listed under the headings that you just checked out. Just point to them (without clicking) to see what each does. Click on any of interest to see more. There is no Icon or menu item for reports but it’s buried under File/Print Reports. Click there to see the many types of reports that the program will create with your data.


This program includes a Relationship Calculator that shows how any two people are related. It list the ancestry of each person back to the common ancestor. I normally use FamilyTreeMaker but keep a file in PAF just to use the calculator.


The last program that we’ll cover is FamilyTreeMaker.,a program that most Pastfinders use. FamilyTreeMaker 2011 is the latest and you can buy it on-line or in computer stores for about $40..There is a starter edition available free for downloading on-line that gets you started with FTM 2005 but limits how much you can do after 10 days. Prepare before you download to get the maximum benefit. Go here:


What we’ll look at here is FTM 2010 as I don’t have 2011. This program can be linked to the Ancestry web site to search for matches to what you have in your tree. Dan Wilmoth covered this for us in February of 2010 with related presentations in January and March and you can see the handout here: . We’ll walk through the seven separate work spaces that are covered in Dan’s handout and see what each one has to offer. The last, Web Search searches Ancestry so you have to do it at the library or have an account at home. It searches for the selected person and does not search for all matches as Family Tree Builder does on My Heritage.


Security Warning: There is a severe security threat running around called LisaMoon. Fred Langa in Windows Secrets describes how he became a tester to see how it worked on his machine. He determined that he had to click on four different threat warnings to get completely infected and warns against clicking on things you don’t know about. You can see the article and many others here: . You can also subscribe to the free edition that will keep you up to date on running windows and staying secure.

Top Genealogy Sites


Ancestry                     $ - various choices                  Lots of information, SSDI        

                                    Free at the library                   Surnames, census, immig.


Castle Garden             free                                         Immigration before Ellis          

                                                                                    Island, 1820-1913 


Cyndis List                 free                                         Many links to genealogy          

                                                                                    sites & information. Check

                                                                                    out “Free Stuff” on homepage 


Ellis Island                  free                                         Immigration, passenger &        

                                                                                    ships lists, 1892-1924


Family Search            free                                         LDS records, indexes,              

                                                                                    Microfilm searches.                                                                


Find A Grave  free                                                     Virtual cemetery, surname       

                                                                                    search & photos. (Volunteer)


Footnote                     free search                              by the National Archives.         

                                    $ to download             Pension applications & more.

                                    $79.95 annual membership          $ - 3 levels of annual  Surname searches & more                    

                                    Basic membership $69.95/year


Genealogy Bank         $19.95/month                         Historical newspapers, books   

                                    $69.95/year                             and documents.


GenCircles                  free                                         Surname searches                     


Heritage Quest            free with your                         search books, census,               

                                    library card                             Rev. War records.                                           


Linkpendium              free                                         all kinds of info by                   

                                                                                    state or surname


Rootsweb                    free                                         World Trees, mailing lists        

                                                                                    Message boards


USGenWeb                free                                         All volunteer site                       

                                                                                    Info by state


World Vital                $5.95/month                           BMDs, city directories             

    Records                   $39.96/year

Additional sites listed at Pastfinder’s website at