Saturday, January 30, 2010

SNGF - Creating Ancestral Birthday Calendars

The Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Make a Calendar! challenge was to make a calendar in your genealogy database software with birthdays of ancestors (or descendants, or everybody's) on the calendar pages, then to show what you made - using January as an example. Finally - to tell who was born on 30 January and what use could be made of the calendar.

Since I currently am using four genealogy database programs (and more online), I thought I would see the differences in the formats of the four programs.

1) First up is Family Tree Maker 16, which has the most up-to-date database of almost 39,000 persons. Here is the January 2010 calendar page with Ancestors only (I have about 2,000 known ancestors in my database):

Note that it says "1 of 3" - some days had more events than space allowed, so it created extra pages to include those events.

2) Here is the calendar page for Family Tree Maker 2010 (again Ancestors only, with a three-week old database):

This one has a little more formatting. I could have added a background picture or a background color. I resisted the temptation.

3) Here is the Legacy Family Tree 7 calendar page (with the three-week old database):

I didn't mess with the formatting on this at all - this is the default layout. This one was the hardest one to create - I had to learn how to tag the ancestors (it wasn't intuitive - there wasn't a tab or button to push to select the persons to be included on the Calendar creation screen).

4) Here is the RootsMagic 4 calendar page (same three-week old database):

This basic view is pretty sparse, but it gets the job done easily. Note that RootsMagic and Legacy put the "extra" people at the bottom of the calendar page.

All calendar creations had the ability to add the years since the person was born, to use females married names (I didn't), and other features. All calendars could be formatted to add color, backgrounds, different fonts, etc.

I have only one ancestral person born on 30 January - Benjamin Allen who was born on 30 January 1661/62 in Newbury MA, son of John and Sarah (--?--) Allen. He would have been 348 years old today! The Legacy program also listed Elizabeth Jasper (who would be age 430 today) - turns out that 30 January was a christening date in my Facts list. The other programs only considered Births - no other Facts.

What use can these calendar creations be? A calendar with birthdays and anniversaries of, say, descendants of your grandparents or great-grandparents could be useful for your cousins to have - to remember the birthdays and anniversaries. A calendar with death dates of family back, say, five generations might be useful if you wanted to honor them with flowers at the cemetery or an online blog post.

Some of these genealogy software programs, and some online family tree sites, will send you an email with birthdays and anniversaries of living people. does this for me on a regular basis, as does one other one but I can't recall which one off the top of my head.

So there are my calendar creations. Each took less than 2 minutes to create, except for Legacy, where I had to use the Help function to figure out how to Tag a group of people - that took about 15 minutes.

I wonder who will come up with the prettiest calendar? With the most interesting person born on 30 January?

My intent with this SNGF challenge was to get my readers and ardent SNGFunsters back into their software to explore some of the capabilities. It will be interesting to see who plays along and learns something new.


Barbara Lass Grempler said...

The Master Genealogist (Wholly Genes Software) using John Cardinal's On This Day will also provide several formats for displaying birthdays, marriages, etc. On This Day is available at:

Disclaimer: I was part of the Tech Support team for Wholly Genes Software until Nov. 2005.

Gwynn Socolich said...

I would love to hear your process on Legacy on how to tag ancestors. Could you share it with us??