Family Tree Maker End of Life

The Dallas Genealogical Society 2015 Awards Banquet on Saturday, December 12th was a fun luncheon held at the downtown Dallas Public Library.  During the networking time, there was much discussion of the recent Ancestry.com announcement that it will discontinue support for Family Tree Maker. The general consensus was that there is no need to do anything immediately. During 2016, it is likely that the other desktop software vendors will make updates to improve data import compatibility with FTM.

Although it does not make sense to purchase another software package immediately, there are a few things that are a good idea to start on now:

  • Look at your tree and start to clean up any data problems and inconsistencies. This is a good time to look at data issues to identify things that are broken now and will continue to be broken after a conversion:
    • People that are unconnected to anyone else in the database.
    • Identify death dates that preceed birth dates
    • Identify other dates that are impossible or unreasonable
    • Identify broken media links that will be broken after a conversion
  • Start reading on location name standardization and location name history; once you understand the issues for your region, begin to work on cleaning up and standardizing place names.
  • Consider downloading and installing the free version of a couple of packages and test the export from FTM and import into the other package; this will almost certainly identify special characters and corrupt data in your FTM database. It will also give you an idea of what data representations will work in an export and what won’t work.

Whatever you do, don’t update anything in the trial system; only do updates in FTM until you are ready to cut over. You do not want to have updates spread out across all of several different systems.

At some point, we will probably write reviews of some of the tools that we looked at about a year ago:

2015 Fall Dallas Genealogical Society Seminar

The Fall 2015 Dallas Genealogical Society (DGS) seminar on October 24 was great; Paul Lacopo was an entertaining speaker and covered a lot of material that was completely different from most of the sessions that I've attended at DGS, FGS and RootsTech.  Paul is a retired veteranian; one of his sessions was on how to read death certificates and the names used for various diseases over time.  Although talking about the infectious diseases of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries is not all that appealing, it is important to know and understand both from a genealogical perspective and a public health perspective.  We don't realize just how far we have come in a short period of time.

The session on social history and social history resources was also very useful for understanding alternative documents to standard birth/death/marraige public records for periods when these records were not kept.  He had a couple of fascinating case studies on using social history to untangle a messy duplicate name problem in the 1800s was a wonderful example of genealogy and of story telling.




The 2015 summer Dallas Genealogy Society Summer Symposium: Researching in Texas was held August 7-8, including an after-hours session at the library until 10:00 on Friday night.  The speakers covered a lot of Texas history, and the types of documents that are available in different archives for each period. Of special interest was the discussion on the archives at the Texas General Land Office.

Although many records are available online at the GLO website through the Land Grant Search, the Surname Index shows some of the documents that are not available online; for these we will have to make a trip to the GLO. We both have enough for a couple of days of research; there is a trip to Austin in our near future.

The presentations on the special collections at the University of Texas at Arlington was partcularly helpful in figuring out what questions to ask and what to expect when trying to find a home for collections.

Bruce's Do Over Week 6+--Scanning Treasure

My digital archiving project took a leap forward, as I visited the sister who has all the family archive.  We spent two days scanning more or less full time and got through about 5%, or maybe less.  We found a letter written by my great grandfather around the turn of the last century telling one of his daughters to come home from Mexico, where she was visiting a cousin.  The was a postcard from my great, great grandmother to her daughter-in-law on the death of my great grandfather.  There was the midcentury equivalent of a text message--a telegram from my father telling his mother that he had defended his dissertation and turned in the final copies.  My sister realized that she had not seen everything.

We discovered some obituaries that gave us some new information.

We also discovered that the library we had donated some photographs had cataloged them under the wrong "W. E. Moore" to their significant embarrassment.


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