Research Tool


I began to use TMG Software some 6 months ago to capture my personal family data.  (The Master Genealogist – http://www.whollygenes.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?screen=TMG)

Instead of starting from scratch (like I should have) , I imported my entire GEDCOM.  Now I am too far into the weeds to start over, but suffice it to say that I have a lot of “junk” in my database and I need to dedicate a good week or two or three for clean up.

I have been meaning to try a software program called Gensmarts. It uses artificial intelligence to analyze the data in TMG  and other genealogy programs.  I finally got around to using my limited free time this week to play with the free trial version –http://www.gensmarts.com/. Very cool stuff!

GenSmarts http://www.gensmarts.com/ reads directly from your genealogy data and makes some very specific research recommendations. 

Here is a description from their website:

What does GenSmarts do?
GenSmarts develops a profile of your ancestors based on where and when they lived. This profile is then matched with GenSmarts inventory of known records to make predictions about the record trail your ancestors may have left behind. These predictions are then prioritized to highlight data that you’re missing. The logic behind each suggestion is fully explained. For suggestions that can be researched online, at your direction, GenSmarts will navigate your internet browser for you, typing in your ancestors name and even pressing the SEARCH button for you!

It works with the following programs (but can not be used with a MAC):

– RootsMagic (including RootsMagic 4)
– Family Tree Maker (including FTM 2008,2009, & 2010)
– PAF 5
– The Master Genealogist
– Legacy
– Ancestral Quest
– Ancestry Family Tree
– Brother’s Keeper (Version 6)
– Ultimate Family Tree
– Family Trees Quick and Easy (contact us for info)
– Heritage Family Tree Deluxe (contact us for info)
– Gedcom

Set up was simple.  I was up and running in less than 10 minutes using their wizard. 

GenSmarts suggestions can be filtered by person, family, state/county or city, repository, online source….and lots more.  It  makes educated guesses about whatever you are missing  like a marriage date (based on a known birth date or the first child’s birth date).

For example,  I selected my ancestor Pierre Melanson. 

– The Software suggested that I search the Nova Scotia Censuses of 1770 and 1753.   

– It explained the reasoning behind the suggestion (because his spouse died there in 1764 and he died there in 1791).

–  A table was displayed of what the family might look like in those census years,  naming all the children, their ages as of that date, their birthplace and parents birthplace.  Helpful when looking through census records. 

– It also gave several suggestions of alternate surname spellings based on soundex.

– a note states that the  paid version also tells you where to find the sources, both on and offline including call numbers, microfilm numbers, etc.

Click here to review the report: Doc2 . The explanations are quite detailed and the results popped up in seconds.

I found most of the source suggestions to be obvious – “check Massachusetts birth, marriage, death and land records….”

However what I did find intriguing is that I could print a research suggestion list for a specific town, library, court-house, etc.  This would help immensely when planning research trips (yes, it is possible that I can already do that in TMG – so I will have to look into that further).

For my 1,599 relatives it  produced a list of 3,889 research suggestions, 1,552 to fill “holes” in my data and 2,411 which could be found online. Enough research recommendations to keep me busy for months!  It reminded me a bit of the “leaf” (aka hint functionality) in Ancestry.com except that it offered hints from a large variety of sources versus being limited to Ancestry.

The software would be quite helpful for beginning/intermediate genealogists who may not be aware of existing sources.  As more and more sources become available online, the program may be helpful to even experienced genealogists in finding new online sources (assuming the company keeps these updated) or for those attempting to manage a family tree with hundreds or thousands of ancestors and those seeking a quick but detailed “to do” list.

Currently the software only searches for sources in the USA, Canada,  UK and a few in Australia.  The tool costs only $24.95.  There are no annual subscription fees and updates are free. 

Once I get my act together and clean up TMG, I plan to buy the full version. 

Would love for you to download the trial and post your thoughts!

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