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Origins Of GEDCOM (A Temporary Historical past) – Knowledge Mining DNA Acquire US

If you happen to’ve copied your loved ones tree between completely different family tree websites and software program, you then’ve most likely handled a GEDCOM file.

Have you ever ever puzzled how the GEDCOM format took place? This text delves again into historical past to it origins.

I additionally take a fast have a look at why the genealogical knowledge commonplace appears caught in time.

Video Rundown

If you happen to choose a video, right here you go. In any other case, scroll down and hold studying!

1979 – FamilySearch’s Ancestral File

In 1966, the Church of Latter-day Saints launched a four-generation household group sheet for members to ship pedigree bushes to the Church headquarters.

Right here’s an instance type – it’s a typical pedigree sheet.

Origins Of GEDCOM (A Temporary Historical past) – Knowledge Mining DNA Acquire US Obtain US
LDS 4-Technology Household Sheet

Over the following decade, there was rising consciousness about high quality points. Totally different household sheets understandably contained the identical ancestors however with completely different dates or spelling variations.

The Church despatched out a brand new name for submissions in 1979.

This time, the emphasis was on elevated accuracy. Households have been requested to collaborate earlier than sending in well-researched sheets to HQ.

The Church’s family tree division constructed processing software program that merged the knowledge throughout a number of sheets.

The objective was to supply a single “correct” particular person and “appropriate” set of relationships.

Development of Ancestral File

These have been held in a brand new database referred to as Ancestral File.

By 1990, there have been 7 million people within the Ancestral File. That grew to an spectacular 35.6 million by 1999.

Issues with Ancestral File

It’s truthful to say that there was undue confidence within the knowledge high quality of submissions and the power of the early computerized packages to cope with messy incoming knowledge.

Issues have been compounded by a call to not embrace notes and sources within the Ancestral File.

The place is it now?

You possibly can nonetheless search and consider the entries within the Ancestral File. Right here’s the link on FamilySearch.org if you happen to’re curious.

You’ve most likely realized that the contents include a well being warning.

FamilySearch now not permits the submission of corrections to the data. It ought to actually be handled as a museum piece.

So why did I begin with it? As a result of the database led to GEDCOM.

Early 1985: GEDCOM 1.0

The family tree division of the LDS struggled to maintain up with the speed of paper submissions.

That they had a number of data-entry packages to get data into the Ancestral File database. However paper kinds meant a lot of typing.

The LDS wasn’t the one present on the town when it got here to family tree software program within the Eighties.

There was already loads of dialogue round a typical knowledge format that allowed the trade of household tree data between completely different programs.

However the LDS was primarily interested by fixing the issue for the Ancestral File database.

We are able to label their first short-lived format as GEDCOM 1.0.

One of many principal variations between this early model and the following was using two-character tags as a substitute of 4.

Right here’s an instance I mocked up for Teddy Roosevelt.

Origins Of GEDCOM (A Temporary Historical past) – Knowledge Mining DNA Acquire US Obtain US

That is primarily based on a much more intensive example provided by Philip Brown who wrote maybe the one program that used the format.

1986/87: PAF 2.0 (Private Ancestral File), GEDCOM 2.0 and three.0

PAF was a program developed by the LDS to get household tree knowledge into the Ancestral File. LDS members might get this system without spending a dime. It arrived at their properties on a number of floppy disks.

The members keyed in names, dates, notes, and sources into this system.

The primary model was launched in 1984 however the knowledge it exported wasn’t within the GEDCOM format. As an alternative, it printed out a report that may very well be posted to the LDS headquarters.

However this didn’t actually remedy the issue of handbook entry into the Ancestral File.

The breakthrough was with the second model in 1987. It used a file format that we are able to name GEDCOM 2.0. This model had the four-character tags which can be nonetheless in use.

PAF customers might export a GEDCOM file and ship it on a floppy disk to headquarters.

With the standardized format and digital type, the family tree division had so much much less work in importing these recordsdata into Ancestral File.

Sadly, notes and supply data have been stripped from the info. The Ancestral File was at all times going to be a relative failure (excuse the pun).

However the important thing right here was the GEDCOM 2.0 format. This was additionally adopted by different packages.

That features the favored FHS (Household Historical past System) developed by Philip Brown. He stored his software program up-to-date because the LDS continued to evolve the GEDCOM format.

For instance, GEDCOM 3.0 arrived a couple of yr later in 1987. It improved the best way a number of marriages have been recorded and linked within the file.

I’m going to skip over GEDCOM 4.0 and a few minor releases.

The following notable launch was 5.5.

1995/96: GEDCOM 5.5

Origins Of GEDCOM (A Temporary Historical past) – Knowledge Mining DNA Acquire US Obtain US

There have been loads of incremental draft variations of the format between 1987 and 1995.

The mid-nineties noticed the widespread acceptance of launch 5.5.

Someplace in there, Unicode was launched to the format. This opened the best way to non-Western languages (e.g. Chinese language). Nevertheless, the takeup by software program distributors was restricted.

The format prolonged the deal with tags to incorporate CITY and a number of deal with items (ADR1 and ADR2).

The 5.5 format additionally included completely different date tags for ideas like “between” (BET) and “about” (ABT).

It’s not that some family tree packages weren’t utilizing these tags. However 5.5 ensured that this was now commonplace.

1999: GEDCOM 5.5.1 Draft – Nonetheless The Newest Commonplace

This text is concerning the early historical past of GEDCOM. Going as much as 1999 counts as early historical past.

That is when the 5.5.1 draft was launched.

One main change in 5.5.1 was including UTF-8. That is the fullest implementation of Unicode. Once more, this drastically expands the languages that may be supported.

Chances are you’ll be shocked to listen to that 5.5.1 continues to be the accepted format throughout most genealogical software program functions.

So, was the family tree group utterly happy at this level over twenty years in the past? Had been all knowledge trade issues solved with 5.5.1?

In no way. There have been continuous discussions, debates, and proposals by genealogists to attempt to prolong the format.

A reluctant custodian

It’s truthful to say that the LDS hasn’t been notably interested by pushing GEDCOM ahead.

At occasions, they’ve appeared extra inclined to ditch the format in favor of a special course. For instance, they have been operating with one thing referred to as GEDCOM X within the early 2010s.

Regardless of the title, “GEDCOM X” wasn’t a twice-as-good model of GEDCOM 5. It was a special format altogether.

However different software program suppliers didn’t wish to undertake their new system.

And FamilySearch.org doesn’t wish to be minimize off from the tens of millions of household bushes began in Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, Geni, and different fashionable websites.

1999 is sooner than midway between my (considerably arbitrary) place to begin of 1985 and now. However we appear caught at this level in GEDCOM historical past.

A Recap

Right here’s an infographic that summarizes the historical past:

Origins Of GEDCOM (A Temporary Historical past) – Knowledge Mining DNA Acquire US Obtain US

GEDCOM To Spreadsheet Conversion!

Would you wish to convert your GEDCOM to a spreadsheet with each particular person in your loved ones tree?

Take a look at our conversion service for the total vary of options at a low value.

#Origins #GEDCOM #Historical past #Knowledge #Mining #DNA

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