PROS / You can input details about a person’s entire life in only a few clicks.
CONS / The lack of aesthetic tools make the software’s charts a poor fit for printed gifts and heirlooms.
VERDICT / While you won’t be able to create any masterful wall charts or printed heirlooms with it, Family Historian shines in ease of use and accuracy.
As online genealogy becomes more and more popular, programs like Family Historian have evolved to help you find more information about your family faster with in-app browsers and genealogy search site connections. Family Historian earns our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award for genealogy software because of its accuracy scores, web-enabled features, easy data entry and paperless charting.
Family Historian has a web search window and an in-app browser that allows you to look through a popular genealogy site directly through the software. Having a browser embedded in the program keeps all of your work focused and centralized.
The web hint tool connects you directly to online research leads. Using the information in your database, Family Historian scans the web for potential new sources. These on-screen hints appear when the software finds a match. The web hints connect primarily to MyHeritage, but you can also access other popular genealogy searches like FamilySearch and Ancestry. The program produced web hints for about half of the individuals on our test pedigrees. All of the web hints we encountered matched closely or exactly to the individuals the software flagged.
While Family Historian can import information from online sources, you can’t save the sources themselves in the software. The web-clipping tool uses automatic sourcing to gather information about each web source. To gather a web clipping, you can just drag and drop any images or tests you want to keep in your database. This information stays in the software and easily converts to a properly formatted source citation.
As part of our testing, we imported GEDCOM files into Family Historian. Most genealogy software programs and online searches create these files to share and sync information. Family Historian imported all individual data and family connections without any errors. We didn’t have to change or correct anything after the information was imported. This is significant, since most of the family tree software we reviewed imported the information well enough but disconnected the families.
Many genealogy programs provide separate dialogue boxes for different types of information, like marriage or childbirth, that link one individual to another. In this program, all of these specifics fit in a long vertical data field to the right of the pedigree view, and you can pull them up by clicking on an individual. Here, you can enter dates and places related to ancestors' children, marriages and events in a single pane. During our testing, it took less than five clicks to add simple relationships like parents, children and spouses. You can tab through most of the data fields instead of clicking, making the process smooth.
As you enter locations linked to events and people, Family Historian plots these places on a world map. This allows you to see how your family has spread and moved throughout the years. These pinpoints mark important life events like births, marriages and burials. As your database grows, you can find more than smiling pictures of your family. Photos from locations like family homes, churches and vacation spots are just as important as graduation or wedding pictures. The software allows you to attach these images to places that appear on the virtual map.
Family Historian is best used for paperless charting. You can print the reports and charts you create using the program, but there are limited aesthetic features to make these publications suitable to display or give as gifts.
You can customize the individual nodes of your family tree with 32 standard text schemes and eight presets. Trees in the publishing sections are interactive; you can click and drag to position individual nodes as well as to add new records and citations. Diagrams like the pedigree and descendant charts are smart trees, meaning all of the nodes readjust and align automatically with every change you make.
This isn't the best genealogy software for printing charts and reports, but you can publish the standard reports from Family Historian online. When you are ready to plot and report your ancestry, the program has 22 charts to choose from. You can gather these publications and create a PDF booklet or publish a website with your findings.
Citation & Organization
Similar to the easy data entry features, you can enter sources in Family Historian in under five clicks. You can also navigate the source fields using the tab key to speed up the process. Like all of the best family history software, Family Historian can link sources to people and media files, so you can include images of the document you’re citing. For documents like birth and marriage certificates, you can tag multiple people to the same source. When you add a source from online or your hard drive, Family Historian allows you to rate the quality of the document and formats a citation based on the fields you complete.
You can view all of your linked individuals and media in one small window. This gives you a good idea of which individuals have the most linked sources related to them and which relatives have fewer sources, requiring more research.
Help & Support
Family tree software is generally easy to figure out, and Family Historian isn’t any different. However, there may be a moment where you have a questions about either the program or the process of collecting genealogy information. Family Historian has both physical, printed materials and online resources to help you with your family history research. The FAQs section is also helpful for figuring out the various tabs and functions within the program. Email support is available if needed.
Family Historian’s data entry process is speedy. You can tab through most of the data fields and add new individuals in under five clicks. This also applies to adding sources, a typically painstaking part of the genealogy process. In this program, web-enabled tools help with your research. The in-app browser and web hints give you leads on new individuals to add to your database. Keep in mind that Family Historian is best used for online publishing. While you can print the reports and charts you create, they won’t be up to par with other programs’ wall charts and physical publications.