Family Historian runs on Windows 11, 10 and 8– on both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows. This list details just some of its many, powerful features.
[section=Interactive Charts and Diagrams]
Instantly create Ancestor, Descendant, Hourglass, Pedigree, Fan Chart and Everyone diagrams, as well as Family Historian’s very own All Relatives and All Relatives + Indirect Relatives diagrams. Diagrams are tightly integrated and used for browsing, exploring and editing – as well as for creating superb wall charts. Print diagrams at any scale or orientation. All diagrams are fully configurable and most options can be changed on-the-fly.
The All Relatives diagram – unique to Family Historian – really does allow you to view all your relatives (including in-laws) in a way that looks great and is easy to understand. Relatives of the same type (all first cousins, all second cousins, etc) can be laid out in the same row; so you can read off how people are related, from the (optional) row labels. The new All Relatives + Indirect Relatives diagram goes even further and shows everyone that the starting person or couple are related to, directly or indirectly.
The Everyone diagram shows everyone in your family tree file, and all of their relationships.
Diagrams can be saved so that you can work on them, and add to them over time. You can add as many additional trees as you like to any diagram, and link them. As well as getting Family Historian to show pictures in boxes, you can also add additional pictures (and additional text, lines and rectangles) to diagrams, and place them wherever you like. Diagrams can be saved in 12 different picture formats.
Family Historian comes with 30 standard diagram types. You can also create your own custom diagram types, using any standard diagram as a template. You have unrivalled control over both the text content of boxes and the appearance of boxes and the layout of diagrams as a whole; but it’s even easier when it’s all done for you, which is why Family Historian comes with a choice of 36 standard ‘text schemes’ that determine the text content of boxes, and 9 ‘presets’ that determine the overall look of boxes.
Family Historian’s smart trees give you unprecedented control over chart layout. Hide, show, move, resize and re-order boxes and branches, and watch as trees automatically adjust themselves to reflect your changes. Click on buttons to expand or close any branch on any diagram. You can also click-and-drag on boxes to add relatives. In each case the diagram will automatically adjust to accommodate the change.
[endsection][section=Link People to Faces in Pictures]
In Family Historian, not only can you add as many pictures as you like for each person, you can add a picture once and link it to each person in the picture. The best family photographs are usually the ones which have more than one family member in them. In Family Historian, you can link each person to their own face in each picture they’re in – without having to crop your pictures. By using Family Historian in this way you add value to your pictures by recording who each person is, while at the same time adding value to your family tree research by making it more visual. You can display pictures (and faces from pictures) in diagrams and reports, and family tree CDs & DVDs, and websites. Family Historian will by default display up to 9 pictures of each individual in the main program window, though you can increase this if space permits.
You can also add sounds, video and any other kind of multimedia. You can even add links to other family tree files.
[endsection][section=Integrated Word Processing Features]
Family Historian’s word processing features, which can be used with notes, source transcriptions (‘text from source’) and research notes (discussed separately) include:
- Fonts and text styles (bold, italic, underline and strike-out), text and highlight colouring, paragraph styles (bullets, indentation, alignment).
- Tables. These are useful in many contexts, and are used extensively in the new handling for Text from Source in source records and source citations, and with the new support for Research Notes (see below).
- Embedded source citations. You can now insert source citations directly into the text. Click on the superscript to view the full citation in the new Citation Window (see below).
- Record links – that is, clickable links to records of any kind. Record link text can be ‘automatic’ (that is, the link text is taken from the record name), or ‘manual’ (i.e. you provide your own preferred text).
- Website links, which also work as you would expect, and can have displayed text which differs from the web address, if required.
- Embedded hash tags (also known as notes-within-notes). Hash tags are designed to be hidden when the note is displayed in reports (by default), but are easily rediscoverable by searching, and easy to spot. By default, they have bright yellow backgrounds (see example below).
- Spellcheck (with multiple spellcheck dictionaries for different languages)
- A ‘Find in this note’ search box, on the main Note Window
- Copy-and-paste from web pages and elsewhere, including copying web page tables as tables in notes
- Localised multi-level undo/redo for notes (over and above the multi-level undo/redo for changes to program data)
- Right-click dictionary and thesaurus lookup
[endsection][section=Make Discoveries Easily With Automatic Internet Data Matching]
Make discoveries easily with Automatic Internet Data Matching to historical records and family tree profiles on Findmypast and MyHeritage databases. On-screen hints in the Focus Window (the main workspace window) display when matches are found. Clicking on the hint shows the matches in a data provider’s web page. Some of the matches can be viewed and confirmed for free, while others require an appropriate subscription to the relevant data provider. Matches can be viewed in the Web Search Window (see below) or an external browser.
[endsection][section=Search the Internet and Store the Results with Easy Web Clipping]
Search for your ancestors in websites across the Internet using Family Historian’s integrated Internet Search tool. The results can be displayed in the Web Search Window, or in an external web browser, if preferred. Extracting data (text and pictures) from websites – sometimes called ‘web clipping’ – is easy using a combination of tools and features. Typically you will use the Automatic Source Citation pane (see below) to create, or find, a Source record to represent the data you are clipping. Then you can simply drag-and-drop text or pictures from the web-page onto the Property Box. The new, or modified data, is given an appropriate source citation automatically. Some external web browsers (if you use one), and some websites, may not let you click-and-drag images. In that case, another option is to copy-and-paste (text and/or images) instead. This is also fully supported in all contexts within the program.
[endsection][section=Find Locations and Track Changes Over Time in the Map Window]
Use the Map Window to map the locations of all the places and events in your projects. View family movements over time, using the Time Slider. Choose any combination of people and events, and filter on event types, using the same or different markers. Click on a marker to view all events that occurred there in a popup window. For example, you can show all your ancestors’ birth places marked in red, and all your spouse’s ancestors’ birth places marked in green. Moving around the map, and zooming in or out to see more or less detail, is easy and fun.
Research notes are separate from ordinary notes. Different styles of research notes are available, designed for logs, plans, or task lists; but you can design your own types to suit your preferred way of working. You can link records to research notes. Research notes support full word processing features, so you can also insert links to any records into research notes. These link are not just to records for people, but to records of any type. You can even insert links to other research notes if you want to.
Research notes are in addition to the much shorter note-within-a-note, hash tags, mentioned in the word processing section above, which can also be used as a way of recording much shorter research notes.
Source templates allow easier and more accurate recording of source information, and make possible more professional-looking citing of sources in reports. Two collections of source templates are provided with Family Historian: an Advanced collection modelled on Elizabeth Shown Mills book Evidence Explained, and an Essentials collection, designed by Calico Pie with help and advice from the Genealogy Programme of the University of Strathclyde. All templates can be customized, or you can create your own. You can even create your own collections to share with others.
[endsection][section=Source-driven Data Entry]
New in version 7, Family Historian supports a whole new workflow, based around working directly from sources. This is called Source-driven Data Entry, and it is designed to match the way genealogists typically work. When you receive a source of some kind (such as a document), you can now start by entering the details of that source directly into Family Historian. New tools are available to facilitate this process, including in many cases new data entry assistants. These are plugins (program extensions) which are designed for specific types of sources, and may be region-specific. The purpose of these tools is to make data entry significantly quicker and easier by automating tasks as much as possible, in a way that is fully transparent and under user-control, while providing more consistent, comprehensive and professional results. A library of free data entry assistants can be accessed from within the program. This library is maintained in the Family Historian Plugin Store. All Family Historian users can create data entry assistants, and share them via the library; so over time, as new data entry assistants are added, more and more source types should be supported.
[endsection][section=Source Transcription Tools]
Support for recording Text from Source information (essentially transcriptions of the original source details) has been improved and uses autotext which allows standard layouts of standard documents from all over the world to be used, so that transcriptions can match the actual layout and format of the original documents. Users can easily create their own standard document layouts as needed, and even share these with others. Text from Source fields use all of the new word processing features (see above), some of which are particularly useful in this context – such as tables and record links. Some data entry assistants (see Source-driven Data Entry above) can also automatically generate high quality Text from Source transcriptions.
[endsection][section=Create Websites and Share Family Tree CDs, DVDs, or Memory Sticks]
Creating stylish websites is easy using Family Historian’s powerful wizard. You can easily choose all the people and details you want to include, and omit all details of ‘private’ individuals, or show only restricted information about others. Users click on links to move between pages, or click on thumbnail images to view the full picture in a popup window. You have extensive configuration options if you want to use them; or you can just use default settings and still get great-looking results.
Instead of creating a website though, you may prefer to share the same information privately with family and friends, on a CD, DVD or memory stick. You can create any number of these ‘packages’ using the wizard, and whenever you want to you can modify, copy or rebuild them, and export them to share with others in the form you require.
[endsection][section=Create Books & Booklets]
Create professional-looking books & booklets with a mix of auto-generated chapters and your own free text pages and chapters.
[endsection][section=Highly Configurable Reports]
Family Historian comes with 43 fully-featured and highly-configurable reports (not including query-based reports – see below). These reports include narrative reports, outline reports, summary reports, complete-record reports, the Family Group Sheet, a calendar report, and more. All reports can be saved as web pages or as word-processor documents, and can be included in websites or shared family tree CDs, DVDs and memory sticks. A wide choice of options are provided for the display of pictures (and captions), and sources. You can create custom reports using any existing report as a template.
[endsection][section=Easily Record Your Sources With Automatic Source Citations]
Where did you get your information from? Family Historian makes it easy to record your sources with its automatic source citations which are created and enabled on the Automatic Source Citation pane. You can copy and paste citations from one event or attribute to another. The Property Box (the main data entry window) is designed so that you can see at a glance the sources of each item of data without have to ‘drill down’ to another level.
[endsection][section=A Powerful Merge/Compare Facility]
Family Historian lets you compare any two GEDCOM files side-by-side so that you can see exactly where and how they differ, and how they will end up if you merge them – before you commit yourself to merging anything. You have complete control over the merge process (and can tweak or override any aspect of it). You can see at a glance, exactly which records will be updated, which will be unaffected, and which will be new (i.e. have no match in the current file). This is file merge/compare. Family Historian also supports both record and branch merge/compare. The former allows you to compare and merge any two records you already have in your file. The latter allows you to compare and merge entire duplicated branches.
Record merge/compare is very useful, but not adequate as a substitute for file merge/compare. To use record merge/compare to merge two files, means adding all records from one file into the other, and then trying to find and merge the duplicates. We do not recommend this approach even if (or perhaps, especially if) the find-and-merge process is automated, as there is no possibility of adequate oversight and control – unless you check each record, one-at-a-time, which would be impracticable unless you have only a few records.
[endsection][section=A Powerful Query Engine]
A ‘query’ allows you to extract whatever data you want from your family tree file. For example, you could use a query to get any of the following information:
* what were the ages at death of X’s ancestors in the 19th Century?
* what boys names have been used by the descendants of Y?
* who are your relatives and what are the 5 closest ways that you are related to each of them (if you are related to them more than once)?
Family Historian comes with 49 standard queries, but you can easily create your own, to get whatever information you want from your own data. Every query can be displayed in a spreadsheet-like grid, printed as a report, output to a file, or copied to the clipboard for easy transfer to other programs (such as a word-process or spreadsheet). Queries can also be used in other ways. For example, if you wished to split a family tree file you could use a query to define the split. You can also run a query to select pictures to view. For example, you could use a query to select all pictures of the female descendants of a given ancestor.
[endsection][section=Create Your Own Fact Types]
With Family Historian you can record full details of any events in the lives of the individuals or families in your files. Family Historian comes with a large number of pre-defined events for you to select from (birth, death, baptism, marriage, divorce, etc), but you can easily create any new event types that you wish, and use them exactly like standard events. Attributes are facts about a person – such as their religion, where they lived, what they did. Again, Family Historian comes with a large number of standard attributes, but you can easily add your own. Family Historian has no built-in support for disease history, for example. If that’s what you want – no problem. Just add whatever attributes and events you need, and quickly see at a glance, who’s had what, when, and how old they were at the time.
You can even define entire sets of events or attributes (fact sets) and export them for others to share, or install fact sets that others have defined.
[endsection][section=Record More Detail with ‘Witnesses’]
If you want to record that two people got married, you create a marriage event for the two people. But how do you record all the other people who may have participated in the same event – such as the bridesmaids, the best man, the minister and the guests? These are all what we call ‘witnesses’ (meaning non-principal participants). You can record as many witnesses as you like for any event or attribute. The program comes with many standard roles for these witnesses (such as ‘bridesmaid’, ‘best man’ and so on), but you can create as many new roles as you like, and each role can have as many people as you like. You can use this capability in many ways. For example, you could use it to record the fact that a group of people all lived together, if you wanted to. The practical effect is to provide richer and more fleshed-out reports, and a richer experience when browsing, because witness details can be accessed when viewing an event from the point-of-view of any of the participants.
[endsection][section=View Extended Family ‘Timeline’ Facts]
Extended family ‘timeline’ facts can now be viewed in the Facts tab of the Property Box (the main data entry window) for each Individual. Timeline facts include events such as birth, marriage, divorce and death, for parents, siblings, spouses, children and grandchildren – all fully configurable. Timeline facts can be easily toggled off or on, and are visually distinguished from normal record facts by a light grey background. They give a quick overview of all the key events in a person’s life at a glance. The Individual Timeline query can be used to show the same timeline facts in the Query Window, or be printed as a report.
[endsection][section=The ‘How Related’ Tool]
The ‘How Related’ tool shows how people are related, directly or indirectly, in multiple ways. As well as telling you how they are related, it can also show graphically exactly how the people are related on a diagram, with options to control the level of additional details provided. Or the same information can be presented in a report.
[endsection][section=Notes & Documents]
You can have as many notes as you like about each individual in your family tree file (this is in addition to notes relating to specific events or attributes). Often, in practice, when an individual marries, you will wish to make notes that apply both to them and to their spouse. Sometimes you will wish to write notes that apply to a number of individuals. Family Historian supports all of these scenarios. It also allows you to see at a glance, and read, all the notes that are relevant to a given individual – and, of course, provide source citations for all of them. But if a note is not enough, you can also link your records to entire documents, written using your preferred word-processor, which you can store separately or embed in your family tree file.
[endsection][section=The Plugin Store]
Download free plugins offering even more features, from the Family Historian Plugin Store. To access the Plugin Store from within the program, click on Plugins on the Tools menu, and then click the Plugin Store button. At time of writing there are over 100.
Powerful built-in scripting tools can be used to automate repetitive tasks, make extensive one-off changes to your data, or even to create your own new tools or new kinds of output. If you want, you can even use them to create plugins for submission to the Family Historian Plugin Store (see above).
[endsection][section=Unicode and Accent Characters]
Family Historian supports the ‘Unicode’ standard, which means that it can store any character from any language and any accent. Entering accent characters is easy. If you press-and-hold any letter, when typing in any field, a popup window will appear just above the field, with a choice of accents for the letter in question. The choice of accent characters listed is configurable, and can include accent characters from one or more combinations of well-known languages, and your own custom additions. The Accent Character popup window can be easily disabled, if required.
The language of Family Historian itself is English (U.S. English or U.K. English) ; so to use the program, some command of the English language is needed. However, the program can be used to record information in languages from all over the world, and reports, books and diagrams can all be rendered in multiple languages, using language packs (free downloads from the Family Historian Plugin Store). The current library includes French, German, Swedish, Dutch/Flemish, Norwegian, Portuguese and English; but new language packs can be added at any time. Language packs can be used not just to render output correctly in the original data language (this is called same language rendering), they can also be used to translate reports, books and diagrams into different languages.
All the tools required for creating language packs, and all the necessary instructions, are included in each copy of Family Historian, so technically-sophisticated users can create them themselves, and help and guidance are available.
GEDCOM is the universal standard format for shared genealogical data; but applications vary significantly in how well they support it. Version 5.5.1 was officially released in November 2019. Family Historian supports it fully. That is, Family Historian can save all of its data to the GEDCOM format. It can also load all records and fields from a GEDCOM 5.5.1 file – including in many cases, other applications’ extensions to GEDCOM.
[endsection][section=Powerful Search and Replace Tools]
The Find tool lists all matches for a given search text, in the current project – including multiple results within the same record. Each match can be instantly displayed in the Property Box (the main data entry window); or the entire result set can be moved to a separate results window, where again there is easy access to the original field values.
The Find and Replace tool allows text replacements throughout a project – either in specified text fields, or all text fields, with confirmations for each one if required. Replacements, with before and after values, can be viewed afterwards in the results window (which provides easy access to the original field values), and the entire search-and-replace can be undone, if required, by clicking Undo on the Edit menu.
[endsection][section=Mark Facts as Rejected or Private]
If you decide that a supposed fact is incorrect, you can flag it as ‘rejected’ without having to delete it. That way, it will be excluded from reports and other output; but you can reinstate it at any time, if you later change your mind. In a similar way, you can mark facts as private, tentative or preferred. You can also mark any part of a note as private, so that it can be excluded from reports.
Each user can have an unlimited number of spouses, children, sets of parents, pictures, multimedia, notes, source citations, and so on. You can store multiple, possibly conflicting versions of most items of data, such as names, dates, places, etc.; and you can assess the reliability of each version.
[endsection][section=Full Multi-level Undo/Redo]
Have confidence to experiment, knowing that multi-level undo/redo means that you can undo any change to your data.
[endsection][section=Easy and Fun to Use]
With its innovative and visually-oriented user-interface, Family Historian is not just very easy to use – exploring and working with your family tree data has never been more fun.
[endsection][section=Tutorial, Documentation and Help]
If you bought a Family Historian installation pack, it comes with a printed Quick Start Guide. If you bought the software as a download, the same Quick Start Guide can be accessed online from the Family Historian Help menu.
In addition to the Quick Start Guide there is also extensive, context-sensitive Help, which includes more than 500 topics with over 300 graphics. Even where there is no Help button as such, pressing F1 will usually take you straight to help that is relevant to the current context.