Forward Migration Kit: Genealogy software, part I

(For those new to the column, Forward Migration is our term for companies moving from Wintel machines to Macs -- or at least adding or increasing the number of Macs they use. A Forward Migration Kit is an overview of Mac OS products for a particular occupation, such as photography, optometry, etc.)

This week we're serving up part one of our two-part series on genealogy software for the Mac.


Hands down, the genealogy software most mentioned by MacCentral readers is Reunion from LeisterPro.

This "family tree program" helps you document, store, and display information about your family (your ancestors, descendants, cousins, etc) and records names, dates, places, facts, plenty of notes, sources of information, pictures, sounds, and videos. It shows family relationships in a graphic form; people and families are linked in an easy-to-understand fashion, according to the Reunion users who contacted us.

You can automatically create common genealogy reports, charts, and forms, as well as birthday calendars, mailing lists, questionnaires, indexes, and other lists. Reunion even calculates relationships, ages, life expectancies, and statistics. The application also creates large, high-resolution, graphic charts allowing complete on-screen editing of boxes, lines, fonts, and colors. Wall charts are one of its specialties.

Reunion can be used to create large graphic tree charts, including descendant charts and pedigree charts (up to 99 generations), fan charts, and timeline charts. It provides complete on-screen editing of box color, font, font size, shadow, border, connecting lines, and captions. You can move boxes or branches on-screen, by clicking-and-dragging.

You can also digitize your memories (such as color or black and white pictures, birth certificates, wills, maps, old movies, sound recordings, etc.) and link it to people and families. With Reunion, you can link multiple multimedia items to a single record, or one multimedia item to multiple records. Reunion lets you display, magnify, and reduce images on screen.

The genealogy program helps you share your information on the Web by generating and linking all the necessary HTML files, image files, graphics, and backgrounds for you. You can recreate book-style reports, such as the narrative report (the ancestors of a person), register report (the descendants of a couple), and the family history report.

Reunion includes multiple-criteria searches. For example, you could search for "all males born before 1800 in Boston" or "all couples married in Sacramento with adopted children." What's more, you can enter dates as they might be spoken; for example, a death date as "40 years 3 months 2 days after birth."

The application's relationship calculator tells you how people are related to you (or anyone in your family file) and lets you create custom relationship lists. For example, you can create a list of all your removed cousins or a list of all descendants. Reunion tracks mailing addresses and creates mail-merge files when you want to send invitations to an upcoming family reunion.

Full GEDCOM import/export lets you transfer data into Reunion without re-typing. You can exchange data with users of other genealogy software. And if you've been collecting information in FileMaker or some other database program, Reunion also features a "text file import, to help you bring the data into Reunion.

The Speed Names feature instantly recalls the last 250 places and surnames you've entered. The source documentation feature lets you document the sources of your information using "shared" source records. For example, if you wish to cite a source, you only need to record details about the source one time. Information about the source (the library, the book, the microfilm, the date, the quality of the data, etc.) can be typed into a single source record, and you can cite this source on any record, in any data entry field, as many times as you want. You have the option to include sources at the end of reports.

Reunion, which has a street price of US$99, runs on any Power Mac running Mac OS 7.6 or higher. It runs fine in Classic mode under Mac OS X and a Carbonized version is planned for "sometime after Apple finishes and ships OS X."

Personal Ancestral File

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints makes Personal Ancestral File, the second-most recommended genealogy program mentioned by MacCentral readers.

This genealogical management system lets you group families together by linking you with your spouse, children, parents, and siblings (and repeating that for each generation). It can produce, in automated or manual form, records for submitting names to request temple ordinances. Personal Ancestral File also produces lists of people whose temple work has not yet been completed.

It enables you to share information with another Personal Ancestral File user, submit family records to the Church's Ancestral File, or request that temple ordinance work be done for an ancestor. It's $10 and runs on any Mac with 2 MB of memory and System 6.0.5 or higher.

"My wife was managing the family records of Benjamin Franklin for the organization Friends of Franklin from Philadelphia using this program," Sandy Fitzig told MacCentral. "I don't know if this has been updated lately but this works without a problem with system 9.0.4 on her G3 PowerBook. This has been easy to use and will output the usual GEDCOM files, which can be read by other genealogy programs, even on Wintel boxes."


Bygones by Troy Adair is a freeware software program designed to keep genealogical research notes with a laptop computer. To use it, you'll need a Mac or Power Mac running System 7.1 or later, 8 MB of RAM, and 10 MB of hard disk space.

Family Tree

Family Tree by Robert M. Merrill is a database management program. The program brings computerized automation to the development of recorded family histories. Family Tree will display and/or print pedigree charts (family trees), descendant charts, and family group sheets. And it will do these things for every person's name that you've entered into the database.

Family Tree will indicate where data is missing at the ends of tree branches. Each name has four separate storage categories: (1) Date and Place of Birth, (2) Marriage Date and Place, (3) Date and Place of Death, and (4) a Notes, Sources, or Biography category. Family relationships are also computed and shown. The relationship between any two persons in the database may be determined - including step- and half- relations. Family Tree is also GEDCOM compliant.

This Mac only application requires Mac OS 6.0 or higher.

In two weeks: part II. There'll be no "Forward Migration Kit next week as Yours Truly will be in Japan covering Macworld Tokyo.

This story, "Forward Migration Kit: Genealogy software, part I" was originally published by PCWorld.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon