Uncharted Waters

By Rhonda McClure


Q: In a previous edition of this newsletter, someone asked how to go about separating a full family tree into smaller parts. I understand the mechanics of creating GEDCOMs from my full family tree, (e.g. I’m especially interested in making “Descendants of So-and-So”), but I’m not sure which ancestors to choose. Some of my many branches go back eight generations; others go back only three or four. If I choose certain ancestors, their descendancy will include other branches, or only other branches so far. To include everyone, it appears that I need to make about eight different “Descendants of So-and-So” reports, but my Family Tree Maker Web page only allows for four report links. Any suggestions?


A: Even if Family Tree Maker did not limit the number of reports you created and uploaded to the Internet, I would caution you not to post everything in your database. Seldom are we working on all the lines that we have in a family file. At the most, we tend to concentrate on no more than four or five family lines at a given time.

Posting your information online serves to reach out to other genealogists. You want them to contact you and to share information. Your pages should reflect those families you are most actively researching. That way, when a fellow researcher contacts you, you will not need to dig out research from five or 10 years ago. The individuals in question will be fresh in your mind and your current research questions and files will be handy.

With that said, one way to get the most individuals in a given report in Family Tree Maker is to rely on the Ahnentafel numbering system. Since this shows the ancestors of a selected individual, along with at least one generation of descendants in each generation, it allows you to show an expanded picture of your present research because it takes the lines back, thus branching them out with each additional generation. Also included in each generation is a write-up on each of the children.

If you are focusing on descendants, one way to work around the limitations of four reports is to combine your reports into a book. Many people do not realize that you can add reports to a book. Create your book using the descendant report of the first person you wish to include. Then select a new person (you can use the F2 Index of Individuals right there in the Book window) and then choose the appropriate descendant reports for the new person. You can continue this until you have just the individuals you want. Once you have the book with all the descendant reports you want, publish the book to your Family Tree Maker Web page.

Rhonda McClure