Genealogy and Family Tree software
Price £59.95 from https://store.family-historian.co.uk/ as a download
(check system requirements https://www.family-historian.co.uk/support/system-requirements )
Manufacturer: Calico Pie
Interest in genealogy has been spiralling upwards for many years now and often it is a rewarding, fun and an educational pastime. With the advent of lockdown due to covid-19, more people have been stuck at home looking for something to do and some have turned to genealogy. Computer software is all but essential for storing, cataloguing, and indexing the vast amounts of data you are likely to collect in the multiple family trees, you may assemble.
I have used this programme before as previous editions and I have to say, I have been impressed with its stability, ease of use but yet deep down, there are powerful tools and it is British, so spellings are UK based. It’s big attraction to me is that fact that it uses gedcom files for its database. This may be seem to be a nerdy observation but it is a crucial point. The precious database that you build up is easily transferable to other people or software as it uses the common genealogy file format, gedcom. This is the equivalent of everyone speaking the same language and your precious data is not locked up in a propriety file format which is difficult to transfer or read.
Like all good software, it is very intuitive, most people with a passing knowledge of computer software could easily get this up and running quickly. Either by importing their pre-existing gedcom files or creating their own within this software which is relatively painless. Once you have got past the simple stage, this programme opens up a huge range of opportunities such as a large range of diagrams and interrogating your database in a variety of ways. Like a lot of software, there is a lot there that you don’t realise is available but if you don’t want to explore, there is an excellent user group for Family Historian users at https://www.fhug.org.uk/ Whilst previous users wanting to see what is new should check out https://www.family-historian.co.uk/whats-new-in-7 and of course there is in the in programme help which is also very supportive and include video tutorials.
I do not claim to be a power user with this software but I have often enjoyed playing with the reporting and diagram properties of Family Historian and in this new edition, there are a lot more improvements and they do seem easy to use. Many people may be satisfied with a simple family tree starting with the topmost ancestor and fanning downwards with everyone in a text box. Or you can go in the opposite direction and work from the youngest person upwards. A nice by product of the latter is when a new baby member of our family is born, I send the parents a family tree starting with the baby and going upwards through the generations and I title it “where have I come from? It is always well received.
Other neat tricks included generating a simple report explaining how two people in a family tree are related to each other. Having found some new recent additions to my family tree, this was a question asked by them and simply answered by the software coupled with a simple text based description. I also liked the ability to store documents (such JPG or PDF) with each entry of an individual.
Interestingly during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, I discovered that my local library service offered free access to premium genealogy resources which further ignited my interest in extending my family trees and it worked. New additions to the family tree were added with great ease and the amount of information I can store and manipulate is huge. Now that I have used version 7, the latest and newly launched version of Family Historian, I am sure my interest will be maintained.
I think the software is excellent value for money, after all you are going to spend a lot of time working with it. Knowing that it is well supported, UK based and to me the most important of all, it is easy to use and stable. It is suitable for beginners and for advanced users as well as being dependable and so far (famous last words!) crash free.
Finally, I think it represents very good value for money, especially when you could spend a lot of time generating a family tree.
Dr Harry Brown
6th March 2021