[APG Public List] Best genealogy software for historical research?

Katherine Pickering Antonova katherine.antonova at qc.cuny.edu
Tue Oct 26 16:05:39 MDT 2010

Dear genealogists,

I'm hoping you can help me to select the best genealogical software
for my rather specialized purpose. I'm a historian, writing a
microhistory based on a Russian gentry family of the mid-nineteenth
century. I'm looking for software that will help me to collate several
different kinds of information into one easily navigated family tree.
I will need to be able to print reports of selections from the trees
that look nice enough for my publisher to use as a reference (the
publisher will have their own people draw the final tree, but I need
to give them the info in a clear way). But I also want to use it for
my reference.

I have read online reviews, but they don't cover some of the features
I'm most concerned about, and I have tried trial versions of a few
kinds of software, but found that they required a great deal of data
entry before I could be sure they did what I needed. I'm hoping those
of you with extensive experience with genealogical software can steer
me in the right direction more accurately.

So, these are my requirements:

- I want to keep track of three interrelated families from the 17th
century to the present. So, I need to be able to print something more
complex than a “tree” structure with all the branches coming from one
common ancestor or one common descendant. This has been a problem with
some of the trials I’ve looked at.

- I have to be able to attach notes to each entry. At least one bit of
block text, along with birth, marriage and death dates.

- I want to be able to print a report that includes birth and death
dates, and distinguishes between males and females

- I want to input all the info I have, but be able to choose to print
only simplified versions of the tree with only the branches I’m most
interested in on it

- I want to be able to use the software on different computers, and
backup files very easily. It would be nice if the files were easily
converted to other formats. These features are not essential, just

- I have a lot of information to enter and time is a very big factor,
so I need the input to be easy, and the learning curve minimal (I
already tried doing all this on a database of my own devising using
Filemaker, and it became hopelessly complex)

- I’m willing to spend money, though obviously the cheaper the better
if it’ll do what I need it to do

I tried and liked RootsMagic, but with only the trial version I wasn’t
happy with the kinds of reports I could produce, and some of the
reviews I read online said version 4.0 is actually harder to use than
v3.0, so I’m hesitating to buy it. I’d be delighted if someone could
tell me the full v4.0 is worthwhile and will do what I need it to do.

Thank you so much for any advice you have.


Kate Antonova

Katherine Pickering Antonova
Assistant Professor of Russian History
Queens College, City University of New York

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