Lately, I’ve been feeling constricted by the limitations of my genealogy software. 1 There has been a lot of criticism of genealogy software and some great ideas (here and here) for improvement.2 I won’t get into all that. Instead, I want to touch on my greatest pain point.
For me, the biggest drawback is the inability to create relationships or ties between people who are unrelated or who may be related, but I don’t yet know how. Family members often stood up for each other—serving as witnesses on documents, sponsors at baptisms, executors or administrators of estates, and guardians for minors. Being able to make those connections—and easily refer to them—during the research process can help to break through brick walls.
I want those links encapsulated in my genealogy program. I want to be able to see those connections and what they were (i.e., witness, administrator, sponsor, bondsman, guardian, etc.) in each individual’s record. I want to be able to follow them from person to person—and back—without having to know (or remember) who they connect through (i.e., spouses, siblings, or parents).
I’d like to view a list of these links between individuals for each personal in the database. Who was an individual connected to? What was the relationship? Were they linked through multiple events, implying a closer relationship, or was it a one-time thing? What was the timeline for these relationships?
I also want to be able to see their spatial relationship. Were they neighbors on adjoining properties or living on opposite ends of the county? What about over time? Did they stay in the same location or did one—or both—of them move to a new locale? That could be key in locating a “missing” individual.
What do you wish you could do with your genealogy software?
- I use Reunion for Mac, but I’m sure most applications contain similar restrictions. ↩
- Most of the critique regards its use for collecting and evaluating information and forming conclusions. I primarily use my database as a catch-all, dumping in everything I find—even conflicting data—for a specific person or couple. I, then, resolve that information into conclusions in my write-up. If I get that far. If I don’t, at least the information is available for consideration in future research. ↩