Track Your Ancestors
By Franklin Tessler
Even if you're the "sap in your family tree," to borrow an old Rodney Dangerfield line, it's fascinating to keep track of your pedigree. Like most people, though, you probably haven't done much more than throw together a few photo albums or scrapbooks. Fortunately, Reunion 7.05, Leister Productions' genealogy program, is the ideal repository for all things familial.
Although it can't do the data entry for you, Reunion sports a straightforward interface that almost makes the work seem enjoyable. Reunion's databases are based on collections of Family Cards, each of which contains information about one couple (see "Family Ties"). In keeping with the times, Reunion doesn't balk at same-sex pairings, and there's plenty of room for birthdays, burial dates, and all the other juicy details about every family member -- X-Files fans can even tag children as alien abductees. Our only gripe is the small type on many of Reunion's buttons, which some folks may have difficulty reading.
Reunion lets you link images, movies, and sounds to any family group or individual with a few mouse clicks, and you can export data in HTML format, so it's a snap to share family facts over the Internet. Unlike previous versions, which made use of a separate utility for creating charts, Reunion 7 lets you create five different types of charts directly within the program.
Family Ties Clicking on a parent's or child's name brings up their own family card, with space for current or future spouses and kids.
Thoughtful features abound. For example, Reunion automatically remembers the last 500 surnames and place-names that you entered; as soon as you've typed enough characters to match an existing entry, Reunion enters the rest of the name for you. You can determine if there's a blood relationship between any two people by selecting them from a list and clicking on a button. Reunion lets you generate lists of birthdays and other significant events, and it even calculates life expectancies based on actuarial tables. (Thankfully, you can disable this feature if you get depressed easily.)
The Reunion 7.05 CD-ROM comes with an electronic manual that clearly describes all the program's functions, and includes a well-designed tutorial. Leister Productions' Web site also provides a wealth of helpful information for genealogy fact-seekers on and off the Web.