Have a look at this list of the best free genealogy and family tree software. A journey into the past.
When I picked up our article about genealogy and family tree software from the old site for an overhaul, I didn’t expect that it would be a journey into the past indeed. Looking at the respective websites of many products that were reviewed made me think I had traveled back 20 years or so.
I myself have spent quite some time with my family tree and putting it into a digital format. I was taking over that task from my father who had done quite some research the traditional way by visiting churches and town halls and actually going through historic documents. He managed to trace back into the 1700s that way.
I took the paper work of my father and started testing software that allowed me to put it all into a database of some kind and to print our family trees. What I quickly learned was that there is a basic text format for saving family relation information called “GEDCOM“. Software using that format or that at least allows to import and export it was one of my criteria.
Of course, images, documents, stories about ancestors and such is something that goes beyond GEDCOM. A genealogy software should provide these features and make it easy to browse and search for everything.
I went through some of the local tools listed here but ultimately learned that sharing information is very important. That is for two reasons. Other family members are usually interested to view that information, And secondly, there are other researchers out there and they might run into a person way back in the past that also plays a role in your family tree. Wouldn’t it be nice to connect and compare the information? And if it was the same person, hey, you found a relative of yours that you didn’t know about yet.
Using the software here locally is a very good start. If you get hooked though, you might end up registering with Ancestry to get full fledged genealogy software features and to connect to a worldwide community of researchers.
Ancestry is one of the largest online genealogy platforms with professional features and, dependent on your subscription, access to hundreds of thousands public documents. Several countries have their own specific site. Ancestry is not free but because of its quality I have listed it here as well.
|Browser based, different sharing levels, interconnection with other researchers, mobile apps, good image and document management
|Not much design choices for family trees and exports
Gramps is a cross-platform and open-source application to research, organize and share your family tree with outstanding features.
|Cross platform, open source, easy navigation, place entry, superior date support, narrative style web sites, create large format reports, support multiple parent relationships|
|No foot or end notes, lacks people list, source list, repository list and citation list reports|
MyHeritage Family Tree Builder
MyHeritage Family Tree Builder is a handy genealogy software for building your family tree, adding photos, historical records and more.
|Handy list for navigation, auto checks for duplicates, direct upload, import and create GEDCOM files.|
|No merge tools, no individual or place reports, no date calculator, nag screens, requires registration.|
Legacy Family Tree
Legacy Family Tree is easy to use, flexible and has plenty of capabilities.
|Easy to use and flexible; supports family, pedigree and index views; easy navigation; attach photos and documents; strong report generator and create good looking web pages.|
|No support for same sex couples; support multiple names but not searchable; only ASCII character encoding is supported; nagging message.|
Brother’s Keeper helps input and organize family history information with basic features.
|Checks for duplicates; support multiple names, multiple parents and marriages, same sex marriages and parents; no lags.|
|Does not support Unicode characters; no duplicate merge tools, no pop-up calendar and no people bookmarks.|
Ancestral Quest Basics
Ancestry Quest Basics helps to easily organize your family history with basic features and automatic searches.
|Automatic searches in the background, displays matches, perform individual searches, support ASCII character encoding.|
|No Unicode support, individual view blocked, nags with each startup.|