By KRISTE GUSTAFSON
With the popularity of genealogy work on the rise, technology is striving to keep up with the demand. One program that can assist with organizing family history information is Family Tree Maker by Banner Blue Software, a division of Broderbund Software.
The program is an easy-to-use windows-based program on one CD-ROM.
The genealogist’s quest for an organized family history begins on the program’s family page, where basic information is inputted and the family tree takes root.
The family page is similar in function to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Personal Ancestral File, in that it is a way to organize data. All the loose-leaf pages of notes scribbled down from your mom begin to take shape. With the click of the mouse, input data fields can be customized to include LDS ordinance information or other data such as occupation or education.
The family page is also a launching pad to the other features of the program. Tabs to the right of the family page make it easy to follow lineage links to other family members.
From the family page, individuals can input medical history, address information and up to 15 pages of notes.
For those who have already organized their genealogy in Personal Ancestral File, it is possible to import the file data to a Family Tree Maker file. The names and lineage links are all preserved.
A unique feature of Family Tree Maker is the scrapbook pages. However, this feature is only available to those with scanners to import photographs and other images. The scrapbook function allows the user to arrange photographs and connect them to the individual’s data.
Many forms and reports can also be printed. Family group records and descendancy charts can all be customized with a variety of fonts, borders and formats.
One interesting function is the kinship report where that mystery of weird family relations is unveiled. Arguments at family reunions (“I’m your step-grand-aunt-in-law, right?”) can be cleared up. The report lists everyone in your file along with their relation to you. I found out that Vernon Gustafson is my half grand-uncle.
The program is easy to navigate with the help of toolbars and icons. There is also a help index. This makes it easy to spend as much time as you want with your family tree. I spent 3 hours with my genealogy without even realizing it.
One drawback is that the software is not affiliated with the church. Its purpose is to do research and organize data. So, if you are preparing names to be submitted for temple ordinances, LDS programs such as TempleReady must still be used.
Once the family information is inputted, you can expand your family tree with the Family Finder Index, an index to over 115 million names. This index is included with the software and gives references to where to find further information, directing users to documents like the U.S. Census Records.
From there, you can order a Family Archive CD from the company. Accessible on these CDs is the Social Security Death Index, an index of those with social security numbers who have died between 1937-1995.
Also available is the World Family Tree, which is similar to the LDS Ancestral File. This is a database of thousands of family trees submitted by genealogists.
If your computer supports a web browser and you have access to the Internet, Family Tree Maker will connect you to the Family Tree Maker Online homepage, www.familytreemaker.com. This site offers a wealth of information for genealogy enthusiasts and beginners. On the page are regular features like the Family Finder Index and genealogy classified where you can find more information on your family roots.
The page can also put you in touch with others who are interested in your family and may have information for you.
The program is available at most software retailers.