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Software can help you keep track of family

Personal Finance editor
huntley

HELEN
HUNTLEY

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By HELEN HUNTLEY

© 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.

Links to your past
Online resources, including Web sites and e-mailing lists, are making it easier for people to connect with their family's past.

Mystery, scandal and discovery online
Genealogists love to find an ancestor such as my fourth great-grandmother, Margaret "Peggy" Polk Hagler. Her story offers scandal, mystery and even a presidential connection. The Internet introduced us.

Software can help you keep track of family
If you'll be collecting information on more than a few dozen relatives, genealogy software is a great investment.

Roots on the Web
Here are some starting points for genealogy research on the Internet:

Two of the most popular and most heavily marketed programs, Family Treemaker and Generations Grande, are heavy on bells and whistles such as fancy charts and graphics, although some features are of questionable utility, such as the ability to display a chart in 3-D.

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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