Family Historian – Software for the Geneologist

Family Historian – Software for the Geneologist

Picking a computer program to record your Family History is like buying a car, there are a myriad of choices and everyone you ask will have their own favourite,  mine is Family Historian.

Originally released in 2004, over the last fourteen years it has grown into a powerful, flexible system.  Key features include the ability to record full details of your research, including comprehensive source recording and unrivalled media handling.

It also has an active and extremely knowledgeable user group web site with a raft of helpful documents and a forum where you can ask questions about anything Family Historian related. 

Getting Started

For most people starting out with Family Historian,  you will either be importing from an existing program or web site,  or keying your information direct into Family Historian,  from miscellaneous paper sources.

Family Historian has direct imports from both Roots Magic and The Master Genealogist, along with a gedcom import which understands a variety of "dialects" used by programs like Family Tree Maker and many others.  

The user group has instructions for import from many different programs in their knowledge base. Which contain the "condensed" knowledge of group members who have converted to Family Historian.


To import you simply click on the New button on the Project Window (which opens when you start the program) and then select what you want to import.

If you are starting from scratch,  just select "Start a New Project" and on the next screen enter the Name of the Person who will be the start of your tree.  If you are importing from TMG,  select "Import from other Family Tree File" and then use the Browse button to find your TMG Proj file,  although FH will import from older versions of TMG, it works best when importing from V9.

Family Historian also provides a handy "Sample" project which you can easily use to experiment with the options.  It's also used extensively in the highly regarded optional guide "Getting the most from Family Historian 6" which is available from Amazon.

The Focus Window

Once you have a Project open you will arrive on the Focus window.   One of several windows which you can work with your information.   In the default configuration the Property Box,  which is used for all information entry,  is shown on the right. but you can "float" it and move it around or to another screen if you have the luxury of more than one screen on your computer.

The four tabs on the Focus window allow you to see different views of the currently selected person, so you can see them with their spouse and children or their parents and siblings.   As you can see there are little magnifying glasses next to each person to move the Focus to that person,   you can also click on any name to move the Property box to that person, with out moving the Focus window.

The Records List

The other window where you will probably spend time is the Records window,  this allows you to see and filter all the people,families,sources or media records.  For people you can enter just a surname or just a first name and it will show all the records which match.   The property box can then be used the edit the information or you can drill down using the + boxes next to the names.  This is also a good place to select two records to merge.  You can click on any column heading to sort by that column or hold down the ALT key and click  to sort in the reverse order, e.g Sort Z-A rather than A-Z.  The columns can easily be customised to add any data you need.

Hint:  When you install the program to go the Options button and tick the husbands surnames so you can easily search for Women using their married names.

The Property Box

The property box is where most information is entered and updated.  it has a main tab which gives you a quick overview of a person and their immediate family as well as tabs for media and facts.

  For entering any facts, the Fact tab is recommend as it shows all the fields available for entry making it easier to add information correctly.   Witnesses, notes and sources can also be entered and additional facts can be viewed in the "time line" from other members of the family.

The Media Window

One of the most powerful areas of Family Historian is it's Media window,  you can add any sort of media from images to sound or video files, and media can be added in a variety of locations including against Facts, Places, Sources or Source Citations.   You can also add a single image with multiple people in the image and easily highlight each face in the image and attach it to am individual.  In the image below all 5 people in the image have been identified.  You can also add notes to areas of the image,  for example to name a pet or put details against a vehicle and there is a handy multimedia report which can show all the details about the people in the image,  very handy to store with any original images you have,  and more useful than writing "Great Aunt Mabel's wedding" on the back.


Maps, Queries, Reports, Plugins etc

There is so much more to Family Historian that this article could go on forever,  in fact the "Getting the Most" book is 243 pages and even that does not cover every single thing you can do with Family Historian.

Luckily Calico Pie, who write Family Historian,  offer a free 30 day trial, and you don't even need to enter a credit card to get it.  Just download the program from and install it.   Don't worry if you have tried it before, just email the support desk and they will send you a trial extension. 

Handy Links & Resources

Family Historian Site

The Family Historian User Group

Getting The Most From Family Historian (book)

National Family History Month 2014 Geneameme

National Family History Month 2014 Geneameme


Although not in Australia,  after my visit to Australia in February,  I now have a few Australian “mates” who are currently having “National Family History Month”,  a couple of them Jill and Pauline have posted Geneameme posts for the event and it seemed a shame not to join in so here are my responses to the challenge.


  1. What are you doing for NFHM?
    • Well I attended Jill Ball’s hangout event, revamped my Family History website and researched 3 of the people in my tree who died in WW1.
  2. What do you hope to learn in NFHM?
    • I am always learning something,  but I concentrating on getting better at researching WW1,  referencing as many online sources as I can.
  3. Do you research at a family or local history library?
    • Sometimes,  although it’s tricky as I still work full time,  so they tend to be shut when I am not working.
  4. Do you do all your research online?
  5. What’s your favourite place to store your family tree?
  6. If offline, which genealogy program do you use? (do tell us its strengths/weaknesses if you like)
    • Family Historian,  for me it’s real strengths are it’s flexibility and stability, and the fact it stores all it’s data direct in Gedcom format, so it’s easily portable and of course it has a great user group ( which I am proud to have set up over 10 years ago.
  7. How do you preserve your family stories for future generations?
    • With the re-launch of this site I hope to write up more of our family stories and bring some of the characters in my family tree to life
  8. Have you any special research projects on the go?
    • Only as mentioned above the research into WW1
  9. What is your favourite family history research activity?
    • Building narratives and fleshing out the facts from Census and other sources, to build pictures of our families.
  10. What is your favourite family history research place/library etc?
  11. What is your favourite website for genealogy research?
  12. Are you part of a Facebook genealogy group? If so which one?
    • No I don’t use Facebook,  I don’t like the Ts & Cs.
  13. Do you use webinars or podcasts for genealogy? Any tips?
  14. Do you use social media? eg Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn
    • I use Google+ and occasionally Twitter,  I do have a linked in profile,  but that is mainly for my day job.
  15. What genealogy topic/class have you learnt the most from this year at a webinar/conference/seminar?
    • That’s easy the Unlock The Past Cruise I went on in February,  great lectures and chatting to like minded people for over a week was wonderful.  
  16. Do you have a favourite research strategy to knock down your brick walls?
    • I hadn’t got a name for my strategy,  but Jill has named it “PIP” so that’s my favourite one, see below.
  17. Have you used DNA testing for your genealogy?
    • No
  18. Have you made cousin connections through your DNA tests?
    • No
  19. Do you have a wish list of topics for NFHM 2015?
    • No,  but I have booked another Unlock the Past Cruise,  so I shall be learning in July 2015.
  20. What do you most love about your family history research?
    • Learning, Exploring and the chance to remembe
GeneAus said on her post for National Family History Month 2014 Geneameme 
The PIP Process. Persistence, Inventiveness and Patience. Persistence – keep at it, try, try and try again. Inventiveness – harness your creative powers, think laterally to find your way around a problem. Patience – just like Snow White believed that “one day my prince will come” believe that some day you will find your answer, it make take two, ten or twenty years to find that magic sledgehammer. Hey – I just invented the PIP process – my bit of creativity for National Family History Month.

Dead Man’s Pennies

A Dead Man's Penny
Dead man’s pennies or more accurately memorial plaques were issued to the families of those killed in world war 1.

“I once had a sweetheart, but now I have none,
Since he went for a solider to carry a gun,
What can you buy with dead man’s pennies?”

Robb Johnson, from the Gentle Men Song Suite


While looking through the lists of events at our local theatre I saw an advert for a concert called “Gentle Men” which will be on in November, I was intrigued by the concept, as it was a song cycle of Robb Johnson’s Grandfathers’ experience of the Great War.

A bit of googling found a book and cd, plus a You Tube video, the book and CD arrived last week and I can highly recommend both. I can only echo the review from the Guardian newspaper:

‘with vocals by Johnson, Roy Bailey and Barb Jungr, and the often upbeat, jaunty melodies are inspired by music hall, hymns or marching songs, and set to variously bleak, angry and poignant lyrics. A folk classic.’

Robin Denselow The Guardian ****

It really needs to be listened to,  it’s message is clear,  and a songs like “Dead Man’s Penny” and “An empty chair” seems to echo the tragic loss of life.  If you have the chance to also get the book,  it’s well worth having as it extends the story from the songs and contains many photographs and additional information.  For more information check out the Gentle Men Site



Latin Roman Catholic Records

Latin Roman Catholic Records

Name: Gulielmus Albertus Taubman Birth Date:16 Dec 1860 Baptism Date:	18 Sep 1875 Parish:	St Francis Xavier's (Francisci Xavarii), Lancashire, England Father's Name:	Edwardi Taubman Mother's name:	Annae Clegg
Name: Gulielmus Albertus Taubman
Birth Date: 16 Dec 1860
Baptism Date: 18 Sep 1875
Parish: St Francis Xavier’s (Francisci Xavarii), Lancashire, England
Father’s Name: Edwardi Taubman
Mother’s name: Annae Clegg

Stephen’s Great Grandfather is an elusive soul, so when I decided to check Ancestry for some records in the Liverpool Parish, I was not surprised to have no match for William Albert Taubman. However a search for simply Taubman returned 7 records.

JacobusTaubman 26 Jan 1855 11 Nov 1876 St Francis Xavier’s (Francisci Xavarii) EdvardiTaubman,
Catharina Clegg
Gulielmus AlbertusTaubman 16 Dec 1860 18 Sep 1875 St Francis Xavier’s (Francisci Xavarii) EdwardiTaubman,
Annae Clegg
JosephusTaubman 13 Sep 1868 18 Sep 1875 St Francis Xavier’s (Francisci Xavarii) EdwardiTaubman,
Annae Clegg
Joannes EdwardisTaubman 10 Sep 1877 16 Sep 1877 St Francis Xavier’s (Francisci Xavarii) Jacobus ThomasTaubman,
Maria Warnick
Maria HildaTaubman 24 Jul 1879 27 Jul 1879 St Francis Xavier’s (Francisci Xavarii) Jacobi Taubman,
Maria Wernock
Maria CatharinaTaubman 6 Mar 1881 13 Mar 1881 St Francis Xavier’s (Francisci Xavarii) Jacobi Taubman,
Mariae Warnick
JacobusTaubman 10 Mar 1900 30 Jun 1900 St Patrick Jacobi Taubman,
Annae Moore

There he is as “Gulielmus Albertus Taubman”  so a word to the wise,  some Roman Catholic priests latinised the Christian names,  and this particular one had really poor hand writing,  just take a look at the Maria Vernick spellings.

It’s also interesting to see the Latin note on the left, but I have not translated it yet.  William had already been baptised in an Anglican Church back in 1860, so it may be related to that, but it also has “Sub conditione”, which suggests the Priest knew this or just suspected it.



I am a West Country Girl

I am a West Country Girl

Janes Ancestral Map
Events involving my ancestors over the last 300 years.

When I stand up to speak at conferences or on training days,  I often open with the fact that my Ancestors come from Dorset in the south west of England.  This is not entirely true,  some come from Wiltshire and some from Devon,  but the vast majority come from the south and west of Dorset,  mostly clustered around Bridport and Dorchester.

I always feel I belong to that area, despite having been born and brought up in Somerset when my parents moved up in 1961.  I suspect that because all of their friends remained in Dorset, so childhood weekends often involved returning to Sydling St Nicolas or other of the villages whose names occur regularly in my tree, I feel tied to the place.

I recently plotted all the events of my Ancestors lives (at least the ones I know about) and with the exception of the time my Mother spent at Teacher training college and my paternal grandfather spent in the Dorset regiment,  the dots on the map show all the events going back at least 7 generations on all lines.

So when they are “Who Do You Think You Are”,  I can answer,  “I am a West Country Girl”.