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Genealogy and Family History

Explore your roots at VPL and beyond: resources and services for genealogists


Many genealogists use specialized genealogy software. Genealogy software programs typically provide forms that allow users to type in information about their ancestors, as well as options for generating various types of charts and reports.

Genealogy Software


The following resources may be useful when selecting a genealogy software program:

  • "Genealogy and Your Computer, Part 2," Family Tree Magazine, September 2006, p. 40-41.
  • "A Genealogy Software Primer," by Jim Byram in Family Chronicle's Introduction to Genealogy (1999, p. 122-124) looks at what genealogy software needs to do and discusses criteria for selecting a program.
  • Genealogy magazines often carry detailed reviews of specific genealogy software programs. Titles include Family History Monthly and Family Tree Magazine.

Many genealogy software programs offer free demos on their websites.

The availability of genealogy software at local retail locations is very limited, but CD or download version of many programs can be ordered online. Download may be the best option since most products are based in the U.S. and there may be additional fees for bringing CDs across the border.


GEDCOM stands for GENealogical Data COMmuincation and is a standard for exchanging genealogical information between different software programs. GEDCOM was created by the Family History and Church History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and is supported by most genealogy software programs.

GEDCOM is used by family historians to share information. In most software programs, a GEDCOM file is generated by going to File > Export to GEDCOM and creating a new file with a .ged extension. Files can be shared as email attachments or on disk, and are usually imported into a genealogy program using File > Import from GEDCOM.

For more information on GEDCOM, see:

  • Hornbeck, Shirley. "GEDCOM - How to Read it." Everton's Genealogical Helper (November/December 2006): 99-103.