APG-L ArchivesArchiver > APG > 2002-11 > 1036442983
From: "Barbara Mathews" <>
Subject: Re: [APG] Genealogy programs
Date: Mon, 4 Nov 2002 15:54:16 -0500
References: <LOBBIKIGAKJFAKPNLMCBIELLGLAA.email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Could you tell me which genealogy programs are used by majority of
> professional genealogists? Which ones meet source citation
> standards? Which ones meet reporting format standards?
When we had GENTECH this past January here in Boston, Pat Hatcher chaired
the roundtable where the discussion was about which computer programs we
used the most. Hands-down, Microsoft Word won, but there was a loyal
contingent using WordPerfect.
I would say that there was significant agreement that nothing was
publishable without being polished in a word processor first. Many people
present at the roundtable did use TMG to track data and even to provide the
initial word processing file. There were a few other programs that were also
used for this purpose.
To the best of my knowledge, no word processing programs meet reporting
format standards. There are many small reasons why this is true, but one
major one can be found on p. 97 of the BCG Genealogical Standards Manual
(Orem, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, 2000), where the bullet point on the
bottom of the page states that the biographical paragraph that starts a
family discussion includes birth-death-marriage information on the
descendant and on his or her spouses in chronological order. The standard
goes on to list a life story and a child list as other elements necessary to
a genealogical treatment. This is what the Register, the Record, and the
Quarterly all do.
What genealogy databases tend to do is list the descendant only in the first
paragraph, followed by his or her life story, then a paragraph with the
vital events of the spouse, followed by her or his life story. Sometimes a
child list appears after each spouse who parented children; sometimes the
child list is held to the end. In my opinion what drives this
person-by-person output is the structure of the database underlying the
genealogy program. The programmers and the database both tend to think on a
unique person-by-unique person basis.
In any event, even before you get to issues about footnote formats or
whether names are capitalized, you've already failed in the choices about
which paragraphs contain what data.
Then think about "readability." The genealogy programs tend to sort events
by date order. However, a date-sorted list of events might not be the best
way to convey a family's experiences. Perhaps if you used a paragraph on
migration issues or a paragraph on land transactions, you could set the
stage for other discussions. Or you might want to remove positions held in a
church to one paragraph rather than disbursing them. Discussing the
information in a logical order is a good reason to move the output of your
genealogy program into a word processor.
If you look at the BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, Appendix G, you will
find two examples of family treatments. You can always see if you can
duplicate a generation or two of one of these treatments in the software you
I think your question is a good one to ask of the software we are offered.
If anyone knows of software that can generate the complete first paragraph
of a family treatment, it would be nice to hear about it. Over time, the
genealogy programs we use have gotten more complex as the computers have
gotten more powerful. In the future such programs will certainly be getting
better at output formats, especially if we make it clear that it matters to
Yours, Barbara Mathews
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