Opening a GEDCOM
Q: Could you please advise me on how to open a Gedcom file that has been sent to me by e-mail. When I click on the attachment Acrobat reader comes up and says it is ?% PDF and the file cannot be opened, can you offer any advice please. -- Marion
A: GEDCOM stands for GEnealogical Data COMmunication. Developed by the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, GEDCOM is a standard by which different genealogy programs may be able to share information with each other.
GEDCOM files end in a .ged extension. This file should only be opened with a genealogy program that supports GEDCOM imports. While the files can be viewed in a word processing program, if you change anything in the file, it may not be possible to import it into your genealogy program.
The Windows environment recognizes some extensions and assigns a program for opening them. When you click on the attachment, for some reason it thinks it is an Adobe Acrobat file and tries to open it with the Acrobat reader.
While it is possible to set a particular program to open that file, in the case of a GEDCOM file it is better if you save the attachment to a specific folder and then open it with your genealogy program manually. This protects your genealogy database by allowing you to first open the genealogy program, close your project and then open the GEDCOM file into a new project, database, or folder. I encourage you to not open GEDCOM files directly into your database. It is much harder to figure out how to get unwanted people out than it is to add the wanted people in after looking at the database.
For more information on importing a GEDCOM file, you will need to refer to the manual or online help for your software program.
Finding Blank Forms
Q: Is there a site online where I can get copies of family group sheets and five-generation ancestor charts? -- Vera
A: There are a number of different places where you can find forms online. Some of these sites offer forms that can be opened in specific programs, usually a word processing program. Others are available in PDF format. PDF stands for Portable Document Format, and requires the use of Adobe Acrobat's Reader, which is a free download. Sites with such files usually include a link to the site where you can download the reader if you have not previously done so.
One place that offers some forms, including the pedigree chart and the family group sheet is Family Tree Magazine . These forms can be saved to your disk or opened in your browser.
Another site that will lead you to a variety of other available forms, including research logs and more, can be found at Cyndi's List - Organizing Your Research .
The Key is Organization
Q: My problem is how to organize my information. I have records on 9 families, including cemetery records, death certificates, and miscellaneous records. What is the best way to do this? -- Jane
Q: I have tried to locate my grandparents Claus H. W. DOSCHER and Wilhelmina PAASCH on a marriage certificate in either Brooklyn or Manhattan between 1872 and 1877. I have sent to the New York Archives in both areas and have been told that no record exists. All records show that they were living at either borough during that time frame. Where do I go from here? -- Ken
A: Unfortunately your time frame seems to fall in between two laws requiring the recording of vital records. There was a law passed in 1847 that required school districts to keep records of births, marriages and deaths. To say this was an overwhelming success would be an exaggeration. And the latest these records continued is 1852. Another law was passed in 1880, and that is the basis for the requirements today for the recording of vital records.
Another program has been developed by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack and is outlined in her Organizing Your Family History Search. This book was published in 1999 by Betterway Books , a division of FandW Publishing. This system works with file folders. The pages included in each folder are divided up by surname and record type. So you may have a folder for Smith - Probate Records and another one for Smith - Birth Records. In each folder you would have an index page that allows you to quickly locate the exact document previously placed in the folder. Also see articles at Genealogy.com, such as Another Sort of A to Z: Your Genealogy Filing System .
Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is an award-winning author of several genealogy how-to books, including The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, The Genealogist's Computer Companion, and Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See more advice from Rhonda in her columns Expert Tips, Tigs and Trees, and Overheard in the Message Boards.