Rebuilding My Primary Genealogy Database

A bit of a ramble here… Mostly just thinking at my keyboard…

For years, I used The Master Genealogist from Wholly Genes as my primary genealogy database and data entry software. When they closed up shop back in 2014, I continued to use the software, but became increasingly concerned that it would stop working as new versions of Windows were released.

Around the same time, started making it very easy to build trees. It’s so easy to populate a family tree with data from their vast collection of source material, including copying data from other’s trees. I mostly stopped updating my TMG database and started rebuilding my family tree on Ancestry. However, I never moved my original data over, so I now had two versions of the family tree, one on my hard drive and another on Ancestry. They needed to be merged. But, where?

TMG is no longer really viable. Yes, it still works, but there’s no official support. One day, it won’t work, or may only partially work.

While Ancestry is very easy to use and is an expansive (if also expensive) research tool, I’m old school enough that I want as much control over my database as possible, not locking it up in Ancestry’s Walled Garden. That means either using another PC-based database/app combination, or writing my own. While easily within my capabilities (somewhere around here I’ve got design notes from the early 90s for an OS/2 genealogy app I started), I want to focus on the tree and the data within it, not the application.

So, I’ve decided to move my data over to the Gramps application. Gramps has several features that appeal to me. First, it’s open-source and is less reliant on a single company staying open. (If Wholly Genes had made their source code available when they shut down, I fully expect a developer community would have built up around it and I’d still be actively using TMG.) Second, it’s expandable via plug-ins. If I want a new report, I can develop my own. If I want a tree with a new layout, I can build it myself.

So, I’ve imported my TMGv9 database into Gramps via GEDCOM and am doing a thorough scrubbing of the data. That’s 2632 People, 3659 Names, 4304 Events, 6220 Witnesses, 957 Places, 3379 Relationships, 10993 Citations, 616 Sources, 562 Repository Links, 37 Repositories, and 485 Exhibits to go through. I’ve spent the last few days cleaning up Place names, massaging them into the standard Gramps Places formatting (as well as removing duplicates and fixing several typos as I go). Exhibits will need to be moved over manually. I’m a bit worried about whether my Witnesses copied over properly, but will climb that mountain when I get to it.

The next step will be to merge with data from my Ancestry tree that never made it into my TMG database.

Then, I can finally my online family tree and update the family history that I last touched almost twenty years ago. There are so many new family members, so many found branches, and many new theories and thoughts on my family’s history. I’m also getting older and need to make sure that the knowledge I’ve collected over the years is in a form that a future family historian can use it. This will go a long way towards that.

Wish me luck.

2 Replies to “Rebuilding My Primary Genealogy Database”

  1. God bless you for doing all of this work! I appreciate your diligence and enjoy reading the things you post about our ancestors.

  2. Well done John! Not an easy task. I am a longtime user and although it is wonderful, you do have to be careful of poorly sourced family trees. ( but I’m sure you know this!)
    I have also been a longtime user of FamilyTreeMaker software and I love it! It will link to ancestry, if you allow it to plus it gives you tips and links to follow up. The user is always in control of what goes into your trees. Best of luck in your endeavor!

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