For me, genealogy has been as much a passion as it was a hobby; my maternal grandmother and my uncle started researching their Meador and Bridwell lines years ago, and when I became an adult I picked up where they had left off, expanding the search for my father’s family, the Lipsetts and Hublers, as well. Over the years I have spent countless hours online and in libraries researching and amassing a huge collection of data; I have truly enjoyed discovering information, pictures and stories that have helped me learn more about my ancestors’ lives. Genealogy has given names in old family bibles a chance to live again, even if only in my imagination; it has explained family secrets, revealed heroes and scoundrels, stories worth retelling, and stories some might consider better forgotten. The more I learn, the more I start to understand my ancestors; the more I understand my ancestors, the more connected I feel to the things I have inherited.
In the past couple of years I’ve made myself slow down on family research, and during that lull I switched to Mac. Little did I know that it would be so difficult to find a genealogy program I’d want to use when the desire to start up struck again. Lately, I have been feeling the itch to start digging into the past once more, to renew my membership on Ancestry.com, and to start chipping away at some of the “brick walls” I had hit when researching before.
A few months ago I sent a plea out on Twitter asking if anyone knew of a good genealogy program which would work with Mac. There were a couple of suggestions made, but none of the programs I tried felt as fully featured as Legacy Deluxe, the admittedly long-in-the-tooth PC-only program I had been using previously.
And then I was contacted about trying Ancestry.com’s Family Tree Maker software, which is being released today.
While I was eager to replace Legacy with something Mac-based (and hopefully “fresher” looking), I was also apprehensive about whether I would find a program that I would like as much or feel as comfortable with as I had been with Legacy. The only way to find out was to make the switch … so I inserted the Family Tree Maker CD.
After installing the software, I was asked if I would like to create a new tree or continue. Options for those needing to start a new tree include entering data starting with (in my case) myself and then my parents, and presumably working my way back from there …
… downloading a tree from Ancestry.com (which requires an Ancestry.com membership) was another option …
… as was importing a tree from an existing .gedcom file, which is what I opted to do.
As expected, all of my data transferred over, but also as expected, there were some formatting issues for places, and media links were broken.
The absolute beauty of this program is that with a bit of tweaking — all of my past work, all the media I’ve saved, and all of my familial ties are now in an easy to navigate, easy to add to, easy to edit, and easy to track format.
Perhaps most importantly, because Family Tree Maker is tied in so tightly with Ancestry.com’s vast family database network, new information will always just a click or two away — as soon as I am ready to renew my membership.
I have a lot of work to do before I consider my research as complete as I’d like, and I have to admit that I am slightly apprehensive about really digging in again. Why? Because I know how I get when I start digging — obsessive, tunnel-visioned, consumed — but now I also know that when I have a bit of free time, my files will be right here on my Mac in a program whose format I like, ready for me to begin.
The Family Tree Maker for Mac Flatpack includes Family Tree Maker for Mac, a free trial to Ancestry.com, and an electronic users guide for $69.99. The retail version includes Family Tree Maker for Mac, a US Deluxe membership to Ancestry.com, a printed users guide and a family history toolkit for $99.99. Both Mac versions as well as the PC versions can be purchased from Family Tree Maker or Ancestry.com.