Category Archives: Family Historian 6 Software

To Begin Again. . .or Not to Begin Again, That Is the Question

I must be crazy. That’s all there is to it. Yesterday’s announcement that Family Historian 6 released a new major update got me thinking, again.

I have been thinking about a new version of the Genealogy Do-Over, but as a second Go-Over. Last year’s Go-Over involved completing the scanning and attaching of 6000+ documents and images. I started thinking about a second Go-Over at the end of 2015, but have been busy with other projects.

With all the new BSOs in the form of four new genealogy software programs, I began toying with the idea of creating a new family tree in one of them. I knew the most about RootsMagic, so I didn’t want to use that program. I wanted the time spent on creating the tree to be worthwhile in terms of learning how to use features in one of the other new programs.

Family Historian 6 caught my fancy early on, so yesterday’s announcement of the new update was just the impetus I needed to get started.

Unless I decide for whatever reason to abandon this foolishness great new brainstorm of mine, I think realistically that it will take me at least until the end of 2016 to complete the tree.

What is involved?

  1. Entering 7600+ individuals by hand
  2. Renaming about 5000 images and documents
  3. Attaching those 5000 images and documents
  4. Using the link-to-faces feature in Family Historian on the photos with more than one person in them, which is most of them
  5. Citing the sources in those frustrating and annoying handy and useful source citation templates
  6. Not going completely mad when doing the citations

I have already decided on a plan of attack. Thousands of the documents and images belong to the first three generations of my family. A huge chunk of the first weeks will be spent working on those items, especially family photos, that are of my immediate family.

I have decided to rename the images in this format: (state, city).LastNameFirstName.Description.Date

I have copied all of the images onto a flash drive and set up a new permanent folder on my computer titled “Genealogy Media – Final” and added surname sub-folders. As I collect the images, I will rename them, copy them into the appropriate sub-folder and attach them to the software. Lastly, I will add the source citation.

For family photos in my possession, I have decided not to do citations for those I have of the immediate family. Common sense would tell any descendant that they were created in my lifetime and were in my possession. I will note the provenance of older photos that I inherited.

Can I find things the way I have the folders set up? Yes, definitely. I rarely have trouble finding an image when I need it. However, others would likely have a much more difficult time if they waded into my folders. This way, searching will be on more of an even playing field for everyone.

If I knew how to set up a one question survey for my readers, I would, but since I don’t know how and have no time to figure it out (remember, “free” time in 2016 just got filled with this Go-Over), I will just ask you to post an answer to this one question?

Am I crazy or sane?




Family Historian 6 – Looking at Support Features & More

I am slowly working my way through multiple software programs to replace Family Tree Maker. I am able to do some basic navigation in all of them so I am now returning to each to take a closer look at some bells and whistles and particularly support from the developer and user groups.

Just to quickly review, programs on my list included Ancestral Quest 14, Family Historian 6, Heredis 2015, Legacy 8 and RootsMagic 7.

I am not going to share my learning experiences with all the programs on my list because two of them, Legacy 8 and RootsMagic 7, are currently used by thousands and there is a lot of information online about features, user groups, etc.

Ancestral Quest 14, Family Historian 6 and Heredis 2015 are not nearly as well known so my focus has been more on them. I have to be honest here and share what I think is a weakness in Heredis 2015. While I love that the program is used by many Europeans and, because of that, shared GEDCOMS open right up in Heredis, the main con I found – which was shared by others in online reviews – is a lack of support the development team coupled with the lack of a robust users group.

When I have questions, being a non-tech oriented person, it is very important to me that I have somewhere to go to ask those questions if I can’t find an answer in a user manual. For that reason, Heredis 2015 is off my list of replacement candidates.

That leaves Ancestral Quest 14, Family Historian 6, Legacy 8 and RootsMagic 7 on the table, but any future posts on this topic will be limited to AQ 14 and FH 6 because they are lesser known.

After all that, back to today’s topic, which is support features, bells and whistles in Family Historian 6. I will look at AQ 14 another time.

FHUG – Family Historian Users Group – is a closed group. Anyone can register, though, which I did. I commented a bit about FHUG in past posts, but this is the first time that I am taking an in-depth look at it.

First – plug-ins. Volunteers can submit plug-ins as add-ons to Family Historian. The Plug-In Store currently shows 72 plug-ins in ABC order. The “store,” by the way is free. Some of the plug-ins are very tailored to English records, but most have to do with allowing semi-customization. Some of the more interesting options include Give Witnesses Their Own Facts, Search and Replace (text, age or date in a project can be found and replaced/updated at one time) and Map Life Facts, which uses place and address fields and Google Maps to display places associated with an individual.

It is my understanding that many of the earlier plug-ins have been incorporated into later FH versions. There are ten in the list mentioned as developed for versions 5 or 6.

Second – How to Guides. There is a 250+ page user manual which I have downloaded from PDF. In FHUG, there are also links to much shorter “How To” guides, including those for beginning, intermediate and advanced users of FH. The beginners’ guide includes getting started from step 1, learning to cut and paste/drag and drop information in the program, adding pictures and multimedia, suggestions for entering and recording data on people in less common situations, like adoption and people using multiple names and working with diagrams.

I also found a list of useful research software with links to products like Custodian 4, a software program to organize genealogy data,  Picasa, a free site to manipulate images, and The Next Generation, the program that creates family tree websites for individuals.

There is even a wish list where registered users submit ideas for what they would like to see added to Family Historian. The current list showed 241 items that were wished for AND added as features in the program. Calico Pie, owner of Family Historian, obviously listens to ideas proposed by its users.

The help forum appears to be quite large. Forums are divided into topics. The four main topics on the first page are General Usage, Plug-in Discussions, Importing and Exporting, and the current Wish List. Each of those categories show a January 2016 date as the most recent post, so it is an active group. There is a New Users group, too, which is terrific for help getting started.

Family Historian also has a Facebook page, but it looks to be more of a news type page, not a user group.

I also checked the HELP tab in Family Historian 6. A number of options appeared:

Help Tab in Program

It’s quite a robust HELP section, as you can see. There is an introductory online tour of Family Historian as well as a quick start guide. Family Historian on the Web goes directly to the home page, but there are separate links here for directly messaging Technical Support and accessing the User Groups. I love the easy contact tabs! Family Historian is based in England, but I have emailed questions and gotten answers back in less than a day or overnight if I emailed late in the day from Arizona.

The last support feature I like is that there is a good supply of videos. Besides links on the home page, there are a dozen YouTube videos about Family Historian.

This program definitely has a great education and support system!




Family Historian 6, Citing Sources

Today, I am taking just a very quick look at source citation in Family Historian 6. First, I have to be honest and make a confession. I have never used source citation templates in any genealogy software program I’ve used. Don’t get me wrong and misinterpret my message – I am not saying I don’t cite my sources. It’s just that all those years of term papers in school left their mark and I prefer to cite my sources in notes, using a bibliography-type style.

I can fully appreciate having source templates ready to go, but sometimes they are a bit over the top. Recently, a question was asked online about how to cite images found on ArkivDigital, the Swedish company. My idea of a complete citation is one which gives the information I need to go find the same documentation. I replied to the ArkivDigital question by explaining how, with the image page open, to go to EDIT and click on the first choice – Copy Source Identifier. That link includes all the information needed for anyone using ArkivDigital to immediately go to that specific record. Very simple and it takes but a second to paste the information into notes or a template.

Other than adding the website,, to me the source citation was complete. The person thanked me, but then shared a customized citation that was totally different. That is making way more work for oneself than is necessary, but I digress.

Family Historian has more than one way to create source citations. Being a newbie using this program, I am going to make an effort to try out their source citation window in the Property Box.

Source Citation Box, Yellow in Right Corner

My first attempt to add a citation didn’t go too well because I tried to enter information into the yellow box.

Source Citation Box

My problem was that I missed the green + button. When I clicked on that, a second box opened and I needed to then click NEW.

NEW, Center Button in Bottom of Gray Box

I was then able to add citation information:

New Source Record Box

Here is a screen shot of just the data box:

New Source Record Data Entry

I attached a death certificate for my grandfather, Vernon Adams, and then entered information in the New Source Record box. Because I had already completed this task before I wrote this post, I needed to access the record. That was accomplished by clicking on the blue arrow (noted with the red arrow) in the Property Box.

Property Box

Here is the saved information. Note that the yellow box has no entry access point because this record has already been created. Now, I can edit, if I so wish:

Saved Record

If you look at the gray box above for a New Source Record, I can give the record a title and even a shortened title. I can identify the type of record (e.g. Vital Record or Death Record). If this information had been published in a magazine article, I could record the author’s name and in which magazine, etc. it was published. I could enter text and create my own notes about this information. I could also enter information about the repository location, which I did for Vernon’s death certificate.

At this point, you are likely thinking that this is a very basic template for source citation and you would be correct. Does this program offer anything more?

Remember, I commented that there are multiple ways to accomplish the same task in Family Historian? Well, an English blogging friend told me to be sure to download ANCESTRAL  SOURCES in the FHUG forum, which I promptly did.

Now, for me, who never uses citation templates, my head began to spin. For those of you who love them, I imagine you might think you just landed in citation template heaven.

A Family  Historian user, Nick Walker, has created Ancestral Sources, which not only is downloadable in FHUG, but it also has its own website. 

Ancestral Sources

Remember, too, that in an earlier post, I mentioned that Family Historian tech-oriented users create plug-ins that are accepted for use in Family Historian? Ancestral Sources is a utility for which a plug-in has been created.

By adding the Ancestral Sources plug-in to Family Historian, completing source citations is made much easier. Notice in the description that even WITNESS roles can be cited.

Ancestral Sources Description

I won’t even pretend to have delved into all of this, but for those of you who are interested in more details about Family Historian and Ancestral Sources, just click on the links in the text above.

This is the last of my introductory steps into Family Historian 6 and I am more than sold on it. I may post occasional updates in the future as I find new features and develop some proficiency using FH 6. I have barely even touched on all that the program has to offer. In fact, I just read a blurb where it even has a web clipping tool built into it.

I hope that my newbie visits learning about this software have tickled your fancy, too. One last pitch – you can try out the 30 day free trial of the full program, with all the bells and whistles, if you are thinking that this might be the genealogy software program for you.

If you decide to try it out or are already a confirmed Family Historian 6 user, I would love to hear your observations about the program so please leave a comment.