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Software can help you keep track of family
© St. Petersburg Times, published July 31, 2000
If you'll be collecting information on more than a few dozen relatives, genealogy software is a great investment.
Genealogy programs allow users to record information, keep track of relationships and print out charts with relative ease. They also speak the language of GEDCOM (Genealogical Data Communication): creating, importing and exporting files with the .ged extension. This allows information to be transferred from one genealogy program to another, uploaded to the Internet or shared by e-mail.
One of the simplest programs is the Personal Ancestral File, which can be downloaded for free from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A program called the Master Genealogist is more complex. Many serious genealogists use more than one program to get a combination of features.
Many programs come packaged with CD-ROMs and trial subscriptions to fee-based Web sites containing data of genealogical interest. One "must have" item for any would-be genealogist is the Social Security Death Index, available as a two-CD-ROM set that's often included with software or for free on the Internet.
Rather than buying a lot of data, most beginning genealogists would be better off spending money upgrading their Internet access to a speedy cable or DSL connection.
Here are four of the most popular programs:
Personal Ancestral File, downloadable for free (www.familysearch.org) or $5 (Windows) and $35 (Macintosh) by mail. Maker: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Family Treemaker 7.5 for Windows, $59.99 (12 CD-ROMs) and $89.99 (20 CD-ROMs). Maker: Broderbund, (www.familytreemaker.com).
Generations Grande Suite 8.0, Windows, $79.99. Maker: Sierra Home (www.sierrahome.com).
Master Genealogist 4.0, Windows, $59 (silver edition) and $99 (gold edition). Maker: Wholly Genes Software (www.whollygenes.com).
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