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RE THE NEW FREE GENEALOGY SOFTWARE

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  • jreakes
    The following article is from Eastman s Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright 2001 by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 9, 2001
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      The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy
      Newsletter and is copyright 2001 by Richard W. Eastman. It is
      re-published here with the permission of the author.
      - My Experiences With Ancestry Family Tree

      I always like to experiment with new services and new software,
      especially if genealogy is involved. As soon as I heard about
      Ancestry Family Tree, I decided to check it out. I was especially
      interested in the "searching more than 1.2 billion records at
      Ancestry.com." I also wanted to "view search results directly from
      the software."

      Ancestry Family Tree is a program that you download one time from
      the Ancestry.com Web site and then install onto your Windows PC.
      The software will operate on Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME,
      Windows NT, Windows 98 or Windows 95. There is no Macintosh or
      Linux versions available. The software also requires Internet
      Explorer 4.01 Service Pack 1 or higher as well as 10 megabytes of
      available disk space.

      I am already a subscriber of Ancestry.com, so there was no
      additional signup process for me to go through. I went to
      http://aft.ancestry.com/, logged in, and downloaded the 4.5-
      megabyte software installation file onto a Windows 2000 system.
      The installation was simple; all I did was answer a few questions
      that appeared on the screen.

      I launched Ancestry Family Tree and was asked if I wanted to use
      an existing family database that was already stored on
      Ancestry.com or if I preferred to create a new one on my local
      hard drive. I decided to start with a new database. The program
      also asked if I wanted to use LDS data or not and also prompt me
      for my preferences, such as whether or not to display surnames in
      all upper case. I entered a bit of information about the first
      person in the new database, and then a pedigree chart appeared on
      the screen. Of course, only one person was shown; all the other
      entries were blank.

      I found that I could enter data directly into Ancestry Family
      Tree. It works in much the same manner as any other genealogy
      program. The user can enter data, retrieve data, sort, find and
      also print numerous reports. In short, Ancestry Family Tree is a
      full-featured genealogy program, similar to most other genealogy
      programs I have used. The data is stored on the user's hard drive
      and then seamlessly connects with databases on Ancestry.com. It
      can function as the user's only genealogy program as it performs
      most all the functions that other lower-cost genealogy software
      can perform.

      Ancestry Family Tree installs an icon on the user's Windows
      desktop as well as an entry in the START menu. To launch the
      program, one simply double-clicks on the icon. There is no need to
      open a Web browser to visit the Ancestry.com databases; everything
      is handled directly from the Ancestry Family Tree program. In
      fact, the basic functions of the program can be used without being
      online. You can enter data, search the database, and run reports
      while offline.

      I entered a few names into the program. The data entry process
      appeared to be quite similar to a number of other genealogy
      programs I have used. In fact, the data entry is quite similar to
      Personal Ancestral File for Windows. The individuals even have RIN
      numbers and marriages have MRIN numbers, similar to Personal
      Ancestral File. Legacy 3.0 and Ancestral Quest also use similar
      numbering systems. A RIN number is a number assigned to an
      individual within the database while an MRIN number is assigned to
      each marriage record. RIN and MRIN numbers simply are methods the
      software uses to keep track of individuals and marriages and have
      no meaning outside of the local database.

      Data entry fields include surname, given names, nickname, title
      prefix (such as Doctor, Professor, etc.), title suffix (such as
      Jr., III, etc.), birth date and place, christening date and place,
      death date and place, burial date and place, address for living
      individuals (including telephone number, e-mail address and
      personal home page), biography notes, birth notes, christening
      notes, death notes, burial notes, and source citations. I did not
      use the fields that are specific to the LDS religion. If the user
      specifies to use LDS data, then there will be additional entry
      fields for LDS-specific information as well.

      The Ancestry Family Tree database also stores photographs, sound
      clips, and video clips associated with an individual. In fact, it
      can create slide shows and multimedia scrapbooks from your
      genealogy database. Ancestry Family Tree also has extensive
      reports available, including pedigree charts, family group sheets
      in a number of different formats, ancestry charts, descendant
      charts, scrapbooks, and full Register Reports that will
      automatically generate genealogy books based upon the data in your
      database. If that isn't enough, you can also generate a custom
      report that shows any number of fields and is sorted in your
      choice of several different methods. For instance, you could
      generate a customer report showing a Christmas card mailing list
      or perhaps a list of e-mail addresses for all the living
      individuals in your database.

      I have about 3,000 individuals in my primary genealogy database.
      With this amount of data already in my computer in a different
      genealogy program, I didn't want to re-enter every record by hand
      into Ancestry Family Tree. I created a GEDCOM file with the
      genealogy program I have been using and then imported that file
      into Ancestry Family Tree. The import process was simple. Within
      a couple of minutes every one of the individuals in my database
      appeared within Ancestry Family Tree's database stored on my hard
      drive.

      Ancestry Family Tree then began a background process of checking
      this data on my hard drive with that stored on Ancestry.com's
      servers. (My cable modem is on the Internet all the time, so I
      didn't have to initiate a connection.) Then, as I watched,
      something rather interesting began to appear. One by one, the
      record for each person in the on-screen pedigree chart started to
      have more data appear in blue characters. To the right of each
      person's name two new lines appeared: one listing trees and
      another listing records. I looked at the record for one of my
      great-great-grandfathers and then clicked on the line that read,
      "2 trees." I clicked on that and soon was looking at family trees
      that included men with similar-sounding names and birth dates
      within a year or two of great-great-grand-dad. All of this was
      done for me automatically; my data was compared with the stored
      data of tens of thousands of other users of Ancestry.com.

      The first search for great-great-grand-dad didn't work out. I have
      been looking for his parents for nearly two decades.
      Unfortunately, it seems that nobody else has entered any data
      about him into Ancestry.com. I then started "walking around" my
      family tree as displayed on the screen. I started looking at all
      my "dead ends"; those individuals with no identified parents. It
      wasn't long before I found success!

      In my database I have Lyford Dow, born 4 September 1763 in Epping,
      New Hampshire. Lyford was the son of Daniel Dow, whose vital
      statistics I also have. However, I have never been able to find
      the name of the woman who was Daniel Dow's wife and the mother of
      Lyford Dow. Here, within ten minutes after starting with Ancestry
      Family Tree, I was looking at a record that listed Daniel Dow's
      wife as Mary Grant. The record in Ancestry.com also listed their
      child as Lyford Dow.

      Is this record accurate? Can this be believed? At this time I do
      not know. I do know that I will be looking for records of the
      Grant family in and near Epping, New Hampshire, the next time I
      visit a genealogy library. Also, the name and e-mail address of
      the person who submitted this data to Ancestry.com is clearly
      listed on the same page along with the data about Daniel Dow. Had
      that person entered any source citations for this record, those
      citations would also have been displayed. In this case, there was
      no source citation listed. I clicked on the submitter's name, and
      my e-mail program was then launched with the addressee's e-mail
      address already filled in on a new message. You better believe
      that I sent him a quick e-mail asking him where he found that
      information!

      Ancestry Family Tree will even automatically copy Mary Grant's
      vital information and all of her listed ancestors into my
      database. I elected to not copy it into my primary database until
      I have the information verified. However, I think I will create a
      new database called "Possibilities" and then copy her data into
      that. My "Possibilities" database will hold information that I
      wish to verify. Once I am confident the information has been
      verified through independent means, I will copy the record from
      "Possibilities" into my primary database.

      I kept moving around the database and was pleased to find possible
      parents for two more of my "dead ends." In my case, both were
      almost an exact repetition of the first: a man listed in my
      database with an unknown wife appears on Ancestry.com with the
      name of a wife displayed. In all three cases, there was no source
      cited, but the names and e-mail addresses of the submitters were
      displayed. I sent e-mails to all three asking them where they
      obtained that information.

      I was delighted to find that the data not only includes ancestors
      within the U.S, but almost all of my French-Canadian ancestors
      were listed there as well. Ancestry Family Tree also supports
      European alphabets so the accents acute, grave, circumflex, and
      other French characters in their names and the associated
      locations were properly displayed. I assume the same would be true
      for German, Spanish and Italian names, and probably for other
      European languages as well.

      The databases contributed to Ancestry.com also have records for
      many people in the British Isles and throughout Europe as well as
      in Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries.

      Ancestry Family Tree also has built-in capabilities to contribute
      your data to Ancestry.com. You click on INTERNET and then on
      CREATE WEB PAGE. You are then presented with a number of options.
      You may elect to have your own e-mail address displayed or not.
      Likewise, your name and mailing address may be displayed or not,
      at your option. I was pleased to note that the software has the
      option of hiding details for living individuals. In fact, you can
      elect to hide the names entirely or else show names but with no
      other identifying information. All of this is under the control of
      you, the user. You can also update or delete your information on
      Ancestry.com at any time. Of course, you will also want to know
      that Ancestry.com has pledged to never sell your data on CD-ROM
      disks.

      All in all, I am quite pleased with Ancestry Family Tree. I would
      have said this even if Ancestry.com was not the sponsor of this
      newsletter. Ancestry Family Tree is an easy genealogy program to
      use, and it quickly and easily suggested three new ancestors whom
      I had not discovered previously. Like all genealogy data, the
      names must be independently verified before I accept the
      information as factual and before I will enter the data into my
      primary database. However, I am pleased to have these three
      suggestions that I did not have previously.

      To be sure, the same information was already on Ancestry.com prior
      to my using this new program. I did not really need to use
      Ancestry Family Tree to find this information. I could have
      manually searched for those records by using a different genealogy
      program, looking at a "dead end" ancestor, then switching to a Web
      browser, going to Ancestry.com, and re-entering all the data
      there, one person at a time. To search for several hundred
      unidentified ancestors and to find three new possibilities would
      have required hundreds and hundreds of mouse clicks and
      keystrokes. Ancestry Family Tree did the same thing but at a
      fraction of the manual work and in a fraction of the time. The end
      result is that Ancestry Family Tree easily accomplished something
      that I probably would never have done manually. Without Ancestry
      Family Tree, I would need to repeat this major effort every few
      months to see if any new data had been submitted. Now all I have
      to do is to periodically load Ancestry Family Tree and then sit
      back and watch as it does the comparisons for me.

      Ancestry Family Tree is an evolutionary new product that advances
      today's technology another step forward. As our society moves more
      and more towards being an online, "networked society," the
      capability to automatically compare your data against huge
      compiled databases seems to be a natural application for home
      computers. Unlike some other services, your Ancestry Family Tree
      data is not stored online unless you wish to place it there. Your
      data remains on your local hard drive under your control. You can
      add data, correct data, and otherwise groom your information as
      many times as you want. Should you wish to share your information
      with others, you may do so at any time, but everything still
      remains under your control. Even after you place your data online,
      you may go back later to make corrections, add new data or to even
      remove your data entirely from the online database. These methods
      of user control should be emulated by the other online genealogy
      databases!

      The Ancestry Family Tree software is free to members of
      Ancestry.com and available to others for $19.95. That price
      includes a 14-day trial that allows the user to view and import
      Ancestry World Tree search results directly into Ancestry Family
      Tree.

      Ancestry Family Tree has more power than some of the commercial
      genealogy programs. It is a full-featured genealogy program that
      stores data on your local hard drive and optionally on the World
      Wide Web. You can use it offline as much as you like. In fact,
      there is no requirement to ever log onto Ancestry.com and search
      the databases there. However, I am sure you will want to use this
      most powerful database search feature.

      For more information about Ancestry Family Tree, go to:
      my web page at
      URL: http://www.familytreeresearch.net
      and click on link about a third of the page done

      JANET REKAES
      List owner
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