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Panel to discuss family history software programs

The Computer Genealogy Group will host a panel of experienced users of three popular and top-rated family history software programs at 1 p.m. on Thursday, January 10, at Rappahannock-Westminster Canterbury (RWC) in Irvington.

All such programs perform the same basic functions of recording, organizing and sharing family history data. Personal preferences are dictated by the data entry screen layout, desired reports, the ability to draft a narrative history of one’s family based on information in the database, how many images may be included for each person, and even the ability to create CDs to exchange with family members.

The panel will discuss the following considerations for Family Tree Maker (FTM), Legacy Family Tree and The Master Genealogist:

  1. How to enter a person and how to attach that person to someone else in a family tree.
  2. How to create a direct line report.
  3. Creating references, citations and bibliographies.

Ronald Mihills has used FTM ( for many years and is familiar with many of the nuances including those in the latest version.

He began searching his family genealogy over 40 years ago. He is a member of three lineage societies—Sons of the American Revolution, Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge, and Order of Founders and Patriots of America.

Mihills also is involved with the Robert Carter family history database at Historic Christ Church in Weems, which uses Family Tree Maker for record keeping. This database of Carter descendants contains over 39,000 names.

Mary Elizabeth Stewart prefers The Master Genealogist ( software as do many professionals. She started her genealogy endeavors while in graduate school, where a class assignment required her to write a database program. 

Her experience in genealogy research is extensive. She served as governor of the Virginia Genealogical Society and is an a member of the National Genealogical Society, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Genealogical Society of the Northern Neck of Virginia.

Legacy Family Tree ( is consistently rated as one of the top three family history software programs. Linda Boyatzies, will share her experiences using Legacy. She began her genealogy research in 1998 and selected Legacy in 2007 for her record keeping. She has experience with several other genealogy programs.

This is an excellent opportunity for all genealogists who are considering their first software purchase or considering a replacement. Fortunately it is possible to transfer the bulk of one’s data between different family history programs; however, images may pose issues. Names, dates, relationships, geographic locations and more do transfer, which are the bulk of data-entry efforts.

Following the meeting on January 10, those in attendance will discuss the possibility of forming a study group for one of the above software programs.

Meetings of the Computer Genealogy Group (CGG) are open to all members of the Northern Neck Computer Users Group (NNCUG) and the Genealogical Society of the Northern Neck of Virginia, as well as residents at RW-C. Guests are welcome,

posted 01.02.2013

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