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

Ida Skarson McCormick idamc at seanet.com
Thu Oct 28 01:59:29 MDT 2010

On 10/26/2010 3:05 PM, Katherine Pickering Antonova wrote:
> 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.
> <snip>

The Master Genealogist (TMG) is probably the most powerful, most 
flexible, and most customizable genealogical software. As such, it 
requires decision making by the user. For this reason, some users find 
there is a "steep learning curve." Others take to it like a duck to 
water, delighted by its capability. There is often more than one way to 
do something.

Most TMG users take advantage of only such features as they have need 
for, gradually learning more features, and do not necessarily need to 
learn the whole program to be productive. There is a great deal of 
support available, not only from the company, Wholly Genes, but from 
other users on the TMG List 
<http://lists.rootsweb.ancestry.com/index/other/Software/TMG.html>, in 
the TMG online Forum, in user-written books, on user-maintained how-to 
Web sites, and in face-to-face TMG users groups.

In TMG you can have one-to-many, many-to-one, and many-to-many 
relationships of people, events, and sources. Some TMG users have very 
large projects with many thousands of people, and some have much 
intermarried families. TMG has a powerful Associates feature.

One person can have as many candidate parents, step-parents, adoptive 
parents, etc., as you wish in TMG. A person in a  data set is linked to 
one or more parents individually as persons, unlike most other 
genealogical software which requires a child to be linked to the 
marriage _event_ of parents. Births out of wedlock are a piece of cake 
in TMG.

TMG has user-customizable name styles, so you are not stuck with just 
the standard American name format. You could set up a Russian Name Style 
and a Patronymic Name Style. Each person in the database can have as 
many different name variants as you wish, a variant for every event if 
needed. You could refer to someone in a sentence by his given name and 
patronymic if you wished, according to Russian custom, or even by his 

Source templates can be customized to fit whatever style you are using.

Apparently you want a genealogical database, but you want only 
graphic-oriented output from it for your book (not paragraphs, 
footnotes/endnotes, etc.). Is that correct? TMG has a utility that 
provides drop charts which can be combined to make a huge wall chart, 
including optional tiny photos/portraits of individuals. A 
two-dimensional graphic output of much intermarried families that will 
fit on book pages may be difficult to get from any program, unless you 
break up the output into little chunks, which is easy to do in TMG.

(There is at least one genealogical program which has three-dimensional 
output which may be suitable for an ebook. Three dimensions could 
display more complex intermarriages than two dimensions do.)

If you need Cyrillic fonts, look at programs which support Unicode, 
which very few genealogical programs do. TMG does not support Unicode, 
but images of signatures or images of Cyrillic print can be incorporated 
into TMG output.

There is an add-on utility for TMG called Second Site by John Cardinal, 
with which users build genealogical Web sites or output to CDs, 
including the sources and biographies. You might want such a Web site or 
CD as an adjunct to your book.

For what purpose do you want to have more than one computer involved? If 
more than one person is doing data entry in TMG, the data can be 
imported into the master computer and then duplicate people seamlessly 
merged into a single data set in TMG. TMG has a backup method.

If you just want to give other persons all or part of your TMG data to 
peruse, that may best be done by sharing output from the Second Site 
utility and by mailing/emailing.graphic charts you have already prepared 
in TMG. This protects your electronic master data.

Hope this helps.

--Ida Skarson McCormick, idamc at seanet.com, Seattle
A long-time user of TMG (not associated with Wholly Genes)

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