Reader, Marianne Golay asked about creating "Family Books."

"Was wondering if you could help me? I'm frustrated and don't know who to turn to. I've looked on your web site, but could not find an answer to my question.

I have Family Tree Maker which is great for storing all my information. Some of my lines are 30 generations back. I have been collecting info for about 40 years, wow how time flies.

I have put together books for some of my relatives years ago, but that was when I only had 6 or 7 generations back. I want to put another book together but want it to be easy to read and not confusing. I tried some of the reports in Family Tree Maker and I was getting confused after a few generations. I want to eventually include pictures, other siblings and stories about each person, but want to start with just the basic facts and just ancestors only.

Do you have anything to help me decide how to start and organize such a book or know where I could go on the Internet to find such information?

Is there a code system that works the best? I appreciate your feedback." (Marianne Golay)

The Solution is Simple, but You MUST Get Past One of the Biggest
Stumbling Blocks in the Modern Genealogy Research World…

What I am about to show you may change the way you look at genealogy research. It really does have the potential to "rock your genealogy world."

It is simple, and is an incredible time-saver, but it is also one of the biggest stumbling blocks that genealogy researchers face today.

So, Marianne has all this data already entered into "Family Tree Maker" (a popular genealogy software program). This is wonderful because that's the hard part. She is 99 percent there already, but she doesn't realize it yet. The rest is easy IF she can get past the big stumbling block.

In this case, "Family Tree Maker" is Marianne's genealogy software of choice.

NOTE: Before I continue, please keep this in mind as you go through the rest of this lesson…

"You can use ANY genealogy software program you like - The big secret is to ENTER YOUR GENEALOGY DATA ONCE and let the software do all the work for you!!!"

What's the Solution?

Here's an easy solution for Marianne. Once she is past the "learning curve" and knows how to do this - it will take her about five minutes to do.

Here it is:

  • Take the data that is in FTM (Family Tree Maker) genealogy software.
  • And put it into PAF (Personal Ancestral File), another genealogy software program.

NOTE: You can get the free PAF genealogy software program from the main page of the www.familysearch.org Web site.

WHY? The PAF genealogy software has a cool feature where you can print genealogy books, AND it even creates an index of the data for you.

HOW? Here's the short version of how to get data from FTM to PAF?

  • Use FTM genealogy software to create a GEDCOM file from the data. Close the FTM program.
  • Open the PAF genealogy software program. Then, use PAF to OPEN that GEDCOM file and print the family book.
  • NOTE: You don't have to type in a single name in the PAF program. Marianne entered all the data in her genealogy software of choice already - FTM. All that data was put in the GEDCOM file, and now is in the PAF program.

    SEE IT IN ACTION: This is why seeing the video is so important. Just look at how awesome of a job that PAF does with the data when you want to print it in the "Book" format. Also, I want you to be able to get over the super-common GEDCOM file stumbling block that so many genealogy researchers have.

    Watch this video to see how it works:

    In a way, I am hesitant to even say the words "GEDCOM file," because I'm afraid that your eyes may start to glaze over, or that old GEDCOM-phobia may kick in and you will not even want to read further.

    This GEDCOM stuff is confusing to many people, yet they are such a powerful, useful, and time-saving "tool" - if you learn how to work with them.

    What is a GEDCOM file? Here's how they got their goofy name:

    GEDCOM = GEnealogical Data COMmunication

    • A GEDCOM file is a standard genealogy file format that any genealogy software program can read.
    • Every genealogy software program has the ability to create GEDCOM files.
    • HELPFUL RESOURCE: My Genealogy Compass site has a three-part series (with videos) on working with GEDCOM files that you may want to see.

    ADVANCED STUFF: In my Pajama Genealogy Research System, there are different methods of creating and working with what I call "Storage Files."

    When you find valuable information about your ancestors online, there are different ways to gather, and store that data where you can keep it and find it again quickly.

    Well, GEDCOM files make wonderful storage files. To keep things simple, consider this…

    • Someone can use whatever genealogy software that they want, create a GEDCOM file of the data to share with you, and you can use whatever genealogy software you prefer, and open that GEDCOM file and see the data.
    • The plot thickens: You can go to the FamilySearch site, find information about ancestors that you are researching and…Download (save to your computer) a GEDCOM file of that information.
    • Another good source of free online genealogy databases is Rootsweb WorldConnect. You can find valuable information in most of these databases and, you guessed it, Download (save) GEDCOM files from there.

    NOTE: In Rootsweb WorldConnect, be sure to do your searches in the "Search Family Trees at WorldConnect" area. Other parts of this page lead to different "pay" sites.

    These GEDCOM turned Storage files can be kept on your computer's hard drive, or even better, put on a portable Flash Drive (again, see the Genealogy Compass site for a "Flash Drive Genealogy" tutorial) so you can keep them and know where they are.

    Keep a DIGITAL COPY and a HARD COPY of the information:
    • Just having a GEDCOM file makes it a "digital copy."

    If you find some really important information and have it in a GEDCOM file (your digital copy), I understand the need to want to print it out and have a "hard copy." Sometimes it is nice to look things over sitting down in the recliner (in your pajamas, of course).

    • With the free PAF genealogy software program, you can PRINT information from any GEDCOM file in PAF's "Book" format. Remember that the printed information will have even have an INDEX of the people that are in that GEDCOM file. You can't beat that!

    As I mentioned in the video, I know a lady who has FIVE different genealogy software programs. I asked her "Why?"

    She said that she liked the way that one genealogy program printed Pedigree charts and another one printed Family Groups Sheets in a format she liked, etc.

    In this case, the PAF genealogy software program prints these "family books" in a nice format.

    Use any genealogy software program that you want. Just remember that YOU ONLY HAVE TO TYPE IN THE DATA ONCE! You can do so much with that data after it is entered into your genealogy software.

    Also remember that any genealogy program can CREATE and OPEN GEDCOM files. Working with GEDCOM files is a very important skill to have. Please take some time to learn how to work with them.

    Out of all the methods and genealogy/computer stuff I teach, I feel like if I can help others to truly learn and discover at least these TWO IMPORTANT THINGS, then I am successful with part of my personal mission as a teacher in the genealogy world.

    Those two things important things, that can make a
    dramatic difference for any genealogy researcher are:
    1. Learning how to really use the Internet search engines and become an online research expert.
    2. Learning how to work with GEDCOM files.

    Yep, the GEDCOM stuff is that important.