Can you help me create a family tree?
August 22, 2011 2:45 PM   Subscribe

Genealogy question: I have a lot of information on my (maternal) ancestors going back about 250 years. It's a huge long list of names, dates, places, and relationships, emailed to me years ago by my mother's cousin. The difficulty I'm having is that the information is organized in a linear fashion, and I'd love to see it in a family-tree type of format so I can better understand (visually) how these people are connected to me. I'm looking for software (free if available) that will allow me to plug in names, dates, and relationships, and will display it in a tree format. Can you recommend a website or service that would allow me to do this?

Relatedly, I am wondering if anyone can recommend something that allows one to create a frame-able family tree. Either something I buy and write in myself, or something I can create online, that is meant for display.
posted by JenMarie to Human Relations (12 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Family Tree Maker is not free but is very powerful.
posted by katrielalex at 2:51 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

I had your problem. more than solved it.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 3:02 PM on August 22, 2011

You might want to mention what OS you're running for software recommendations.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:07 PM on August 22, 2011

Seconding More than managed the tree I created in Ancestry. Easy to organize and visualize.
posted by kimdog at 3:07 PM on August 22, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you for the responses so far! I have a Macbook Pro, purchased new six months ago. Also, and I'm well aware this sounds like an idiotic question, but can you let me know which recommendations store my information on their websites, and which allow me to create and store something on my laptop? I haven't decided which direction I'll definitely go but that will be one consideration.
posted by JenMarie at 3:16 PM on August 22, 2011 lets you create and store a family tree for free on their site. The subscription is just to access their sources. You can export a GEDCOM file (which is the standard file format that any family tree software or website worth anything uses) from anytime. Most websites should let you do this, I would think.

Family Tree Maker is software published by (available through the Mac App Store and other channels) that will play nicely with the website, I think it syncs automatically, but I'm not positive.

There are other OS X solutions out there, but Family Tree Maker is pretty much the big kahuna. (Reunion is one of the oldest, Mac Family Tree gets pretty good reviews as well.)
posted by entropicamericana at 3:39 PM on August 22, 2011

The Mormons have free software that will create trees, etc. The website is and it's called Personal Ancestral File.
posted by minx at 5:02 PM on August 22, 2011

My mum tried all of the free genealogy software listed on the Wikipedia comparison page, but she preferred Family Tree Maker, and at ~AU$40 it is good value. You can backup, view and (I think) edit your data on the website.
posted by trialex at 5:23 PM on August 22, 2011

My dad inherited an impressive amount of genealogical research from his aunt and added on to it and he has passed it down to me. Family tree maker is the way to go. I've used Ancestry as a way to supplement and verify info. Geni is ok, but I definitely prefer the FTM/Ancestry combo.
posted by missmerrymack at 6:05 PM on August 22, 2011

Oh, and for a beautiful looking family tree, I'd look at My Tree and Me.
posted by missmerrymack at 6:06 PM on August 22, 2011

GRAMPS is good for that sort of thing. is good too but I wouldn't publish your work there - others grab it, publish it as their own, and add many, many genealogical heresies to it, making yours seem less credible. I learned this the hard way after 20 years of painstaking work.
posted by brownrd at 8:59 PM on August 22, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone, for your suggestions! I'll be looking into each of these to see what would work best for me. And thank you, missmerrymack, for recommending My Tree and Me; their products look awesome!
posted by JenMarie at 12:04 PM on August 23, 2011

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