Free online family tree software?

Does anyone have recommendations for a decent family tree platform? I will need something that’s free indefinitely (so free trial periods leading to paid subscriptions are out).

I’ve never tried to build a family tree before, so I’m not certain what features I would want or how robust I need it to be. Basically my goal is to have a place to keep track of ancestral connections, include notes/photos, and be able to include my mom so she can write things in on her own, instead of our current system where I ask if she can dig up old family photos and email me scans, which I finally got 2 years later. :stuck_out_tongue: (I still don’t have my great-grandmother’s wedding photo…) We’ve discussed our family history before, but as far as I know no one has written anything down, and trying to create a tree/flowchart in Word is annoying, at best.

A research engine would be a bonus, though I’m not expecting that in a free product. I love the idea of ancestry.com, but can’t afford a subscription.

geni.com

I use (the german version of) “Ahnenblatt”. The english version is available here http://www.ahnenblatt.com/

I use Legacy, the paid version. Though there is a free version also. From what I understand the free version remains free.

Check it out.

http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/

I’ve used Brother’s Keeper for around 20 years. It’s still updated regularly. It’s available as an open ended free trial - you can use it forever without paying.

There are about 5 features in the free trial that are disabled, but you can enable them to try them out using a code supplied in the help menu. They’re not critical functions of the software.

The author of the software answers queries by email and on a mailing list.

If you ever do decide to pay for the software, it’s a whopping $45.

The website, http://www.bkwin.net , is as ugly as sin and the program itself isn’t pretty but it’s pretty straight forward to use, and it generates some useful reports - I find it preferable to Family Tree Maker for printing stuff out, although YMMV.

I currently have just shy of 10,000 people in my database and it handles that without any problems.

Is family tree software even conceivably possible? How does it deal with divorces and second spouses, or with kids born out of wedlock entirely? In the real world, family trees are “tangled thickets” of horrible complexity. Do these programs manage to keep these things organized? (How?!)

Are you serious?

My great grandmother married 5 times. Each spouse is entered as his own person. When you view her record, the “default” spouse (my great grandfather, husband #3) displays with a drop down arrow beside him that indicates there are other spouses you can switch to. Their three children are displayed. If you click the drop down arrow, you can select husband #2 and their 6 kids will display. If you print a report, it will show each husband and the children she had with that man.

Any two people you link as a couple show up as married even if you don’t enter a marriage date. If they were an unmarried couple, you just add the “Not married” event (in my program, Brother’s Keeper - others will vary) and any reports you print will refer to them as “partnered”.

In the menu, there’s an option for relationship type that lets you designate whether a parent is natural, step, adoptive, foster, or other, and each parent can be designated separately. If an option other than natural is selected, an underline appears under Mother or Father (whichever is appropriate) on the main screen and you have the option to include or exclude adoption information on printed reports. You can set up multiple parents for people, so you could have both their bio family and their adopted/foster/step family recorded.

Cousins marry and tangle branches, but the software can handle that. BK has a relationship search whereby you can check the relationship between any two people in the tree. If there are cousin marriages, it will give you multiple results on your relationship. I once downloaded a comprehensive database of the UK royal family and was fascinated to see how many different degrees of cousinship exist between Queen Elizabeth and her husband Phillip.

If it couldn’t handle illegitimacy, multiple marriages or family tangles, my family would have crashed it long ago.

Eta: it’s free. Why not download it and see for yourself?

Heh. Well my family tree is not as large as Eliahna but I have 700 or so individuals. Most software produced for genealogy knows there are going to be abberrations, so it’s usually prepared for that. The software assigns a number to each individual (RMIN ?) consecutively as they are entered. The problem in my family is not the multiple marriagies but the exact same names. Seems back in the day, first names were recycled and many times middle names (if they had them).

Family Tree Maker handles that and more without problem. Additionally, you can attach photos, create event timelines, insert maps, generate charts of all types, etc. These are just relational database programs, much like Access.

I grabbed a couple of screen shots.

This is the person page where you can see all the recorded details of an individual. I’ve got the Add New Event box open with a drop down list of event types you can add (scroll bar visible). N S W on the left refer to Notes, Sources and Witnesses. As you can see, I haven’t yet recorded my sources for anything except that one marriage event. I have a note against Number of Children. If you click into it, it breaks down where I got the numbers from. The husband displaying is Husband 3. #9 at the other end of his field is his reference number. If I’m searching in the database I can use those reference numbers to quickly jump to the people I’m looking for. The main person displaying here, Harlettee Louisa Groombridge, is #6. Her parents are listed under that and because they haven’t been identified as anything other than her natural parents, the only underscoring is on the hotkey letters in Father and Mother.
There are astericks next to Children and Siblings to indicate there is information in those tabs.

This is a partial descendant tree. The numbers in front of people’s names tell you which spouse they’re descended from. This is Harlettee’s descendant tree, so everyone is descended from her, so it just designates which of her five husbands fathered each child. The husbands show as m. <his name>, but if they hadn’t legally married and I’d recorded the “Not married” event against them, the m would be omitted.

Her first child, poor little unnamed Male Williams, was born of her first husband and the program doesn’t bother to number that. The next child, Marianne Smith, was born of husband two. Sydney Groombridge Turner was Harlettee’s first child by her third husband. You can see one of Harlettee’s daughters, Melinda Elvina Smith, also married three times and had one child by her first husband, three by her second.

This is the compute relationship screen. It shows you the closest relationship two people have. If they have another relationship, due to cousin marriage or what have you, the “Find a different relationship for the same two people” button will display the next closest relationship. Keep clicking until it tells you no more are found (this takes a long time with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip…).

Thanks guys. I’m trying out Geni.com. I need an online platform as my mom and I are not even in the same state. I’m hoping over the holiday break I can go over it with her and get her to start filling in some details on her own.

Cool; thanks! I wondered.

I tried using Excel, and the tangles just got beyond all control.

My official family family-tree is on a really big piece of paper, handwritten by generations of people, some of whom even have decent handwriting. (Others, not so much!) It’s a grotesque tangle, with several branches going over to the other side of the paper, and the writing getting tinier and tinier as it moves toward the bottom. If we should live long enough, we’ll have to paste on a new piece of paper!

These approaches were so incredibly messy and ugly, it just amazes me that a software package can handle it at all, let along handle it nicely.

(I’m descended from a murderer, two suicides, a cattle-and-hoss thief, and a whole passel of drunks!)

Sounds like the kind of thing you want to digitise to make sure it isn’t lost due to unforseen circumstance :slight_smile:

I use myheritage.com. Free, and able to handle whatever your family tree throws at you.

I use http://www.wikitree.com/

I’m a former user of Geni, but left after they changed their Terms of Agreement and severely restricted what you can do with the free account. If you are using Geni for free, be sure you are aware of it’s limitations.