Family Historian

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by Calico Pie (Simon Orde)
A new kind of family tree program with a design with strengths in its user interface, use of GEDCOM, graphics and picture handling. See their Design Goals & Philosophy page to see their ideas. It has a User Group.

Purchase • Windows • Full Featured • Builds Website
Overall494.72 out of 54.72 out of 54.72 out of 54.72 out of 54.72 out of 5 4.72
201674.57 out of 54.57 out of 54.57 out of 54.57 out of 54.57 out of 5 4.57
201595 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 5.00
Earlier334.63 out of 54.63 out of 54.63 out of 54.63 out of 54.63 out of 5 4.63

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49 Reviews of Family Historian     RSS 2.0 RSS     Showing 1 - 20                   Add Your Review

Family Historian Review by Roger F,  Jun 12, 2016

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

I happened across FH about eight years ago (bizarrely, via a summary of “Best Genealogy Software” in my daily newspaper The [Manchester] Guardian) and, having become disenchanted with the freeware product that I’d got started with, I tried it and I’ve never looked back. Its virtues are numerous - FAR too many to mention here - and its vices are sufficiently small that living with them isn’t a problem. What I love about FH include: 100% GEDCOM conformance; ability to edit data in diagrams; logical clarity of its editing structures; hidden depths behind almost every operation; helpful intelligent “auto-complete” on appropriate text fields; proactive development schedule; good personal support from the developers; outstanding hands-on support from the FHUG user group; configurability; the list goes on. Of course, it’s a large piece of software, so you have to expect a bit of a learning curve, but it’s essentially logical in operation and the pieces soon begin to fit into place. In a nutshell, this is a tool created by a small focussed company (not a corporate committee) which understands the needs of genealogy researchers, and strives to meet them. It’s also regularly updated to reflect user requirements. Highly recommended.

Biggest Pro: flexibility, Flexibility, FLEXIBILITY
Biggest Con: Doesn’t (yet) generate a graphical - as opposed to textual - website

Family Historian Review by David Dewick,  Apr 22, 2016

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

I’ve been using this software since Version 3, having previously hit all sorts of problems with FTM and other packages. Family Historian does all I want in respect of keeping track of my family tree. It’s a very capable package, and I do not actually use but a small amount of its functionality at present. However, just going through the posts on the user group site illustrates extremely well what the program is capable of. I would recommend it to anyone whether just starting out or experienced researchers alike.

Biggest Pro: Media handling
Biggest Con: No formatting capability for notes and text.

Family Historian Review by Harold Bellamy,  Apr 22, 2016

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

I have used this product since I started over 5 years ago and have found it adequate for all my research. Simple to operate and with a wide range of print out reports etc.

Biggest Pro: Ease of operation and scope.
Biggest Con: I have yet to find an anti for this product.

Family Historian Review by Irene B,  Apr 21, 2016

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

I have used this since 2005 and am still very happy with it. You can customise the records page so it shows you what you want to see, not what someone else thinks you need to see. Sources are easily created and it is easy to attach photos or images of census records or newspaper clippings. There is a free program called Ancestral Sources which is a great help for entering data, again you can customise it so the source names can be standardised to your requirements.

Biggest Pro: Easy to use, flexible, great charts and reports. Plenty of help.
Biggest Con: I still haven’t mastered all of the features - there are so many!

Family Historian Review by Derek Kain,  Apr 19, 2016

4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

Having bought Family Historian 5 in 2014 and now upgraded to version 6, I believe I have settled into the program.
It has its peculiarities as do all programs I have used, but find it fairly easy to used and it does most of what I want. Previously I used The Master Genealogist version 8 but it was no longer supported in England.

Biggest Pro: Save direct to GEDCOM file. Good for exporting and transferring etc.
Biggest Con: Can have problems importing.

Family Historian Review by Denise Moss-Fritch,  Apr 15, 2016

3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

I’ve been watching this software since 2002. Although I’ve maintained a current license, Family Historian has never been my major software as I prefer Genbox. There is a direct import from Genbox to Family Historian which works well, yet Family Historian just does not match the older software’s capabilities.

Biggest Pro: Good reports and charts, identify and link multiple people from one photo
Biggest Con: GEDCOM based, source - citation a bit awkward

Family Historian Review by Robert Stewart,  Jan 5, 2016

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

My genealogy efforts started with TMGW. I don’t recall the version I started with, but I left at version 7 I think. I spent a lot of time with it.

I tried Family Tree Maker. Twice. The graphical interface seemed modern. It just never seemed “right.” Dealing with my data, it seemed “loose.” (And, in hindsight, it wasn’t right, if reports of corrupted databases are correct.) I spent very little time with it. (And never committed my data to it.)

I tried Legacy 8. It worked, seemed solid. I did commit my data to it.

I tried RootsMagic 7. That too worked, and seemed solid. And I transferred my data to it as my main program for a while.

Heredis, I wanted to like. It looks really nice. But how it handles names and places, is odd (to me). And it can’t handle UTF. Being a French program I’m shocked it can’t handle european characters. Władysław is not possible. (And that’s a non-starter for me with software out there that *can* handle it.)

I tried Family Historian. Twice. I actually had to leave it once, when it wouldn’t handle the 4k screen on my notepad computer.

But now, with the latest version, 6, it can adjust for screen sizes. And there’s been some other upgrades too.

And coming back to Family Historian is a breath of fresh air. It keeps the data in native Gedcom format rather than going with a custom propieretary database. And I always wind up cleaning up my data after I’ve transferred to Family Historian. (It’s just easier to get to, and work with the data, than with the other programs. I find.)

Family Historian 6’s new media tools are excellent. It’s got built-in mapping, which works great. It’s charting, working from the charting, tons of views, and I haven’t even scratched the surface.

Family Historian is my new main program.

Biggest Pro: As much access to your raw data as you want.
Biggest Con: It does so much, it’s not easy to explain.

Family Historian Review by Vince Bragg,  Dec 15, 2015

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

I like Rootsmagic 7 but one thing that nags me is if you upload a gedcom file from ancestry and it added all those residence source from your hints they follow you to any software you upload your file to. I wasn’t successful at hiding them until I downloaded the free trial of Family Historian. It looks like I’ll be canceling my Rootsmagic 7 subscription and purchase FH.

Biggest Pro: The right editing I need for narrative reports
Biggest Con: Not sure yet

Family Historian Review by Vince Bragg,  Dec 15, 2015

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

I like Rootsmagic 7 but one thing that nags me is if you upload a gedcom file from ancestry and it added all those residence source from your hints they follow you to any software you upload your file to. I wasn’t successful at hiding them until I downloaded the free trial of Family Historian. It looks like I’ll be canceling my Rootsmagic 7 subscription and purchase FH.

Biggest Pro: The right editing I need for narrative reports
Biggest Con: Not sure yet

Family Historian Review by Steve Tilley,  Aug 17, 2015

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

This is great software. When TMG went out of business, I migrated to Legacy but then changed to FH because it is easier to use and I like the utilites.

Biggest Pro: logical displays, good help, easy to navigate

Family Historian Review by Nicholas,  Jun 14, 2015

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

I am a long time user of Master Genealogist (TMG) and was very satisfied. . But now that that program is discontinued I have been looking for a program that will transfer all my 800+ files with citations, sources, and photos correctly. I could not get a GEDCOM export to handle a complete transfer with all the peripherals. But Family Historian has a transfer program just for TMG users that worked perfectly for me. It seems to be the only commercial program with this feature. I have just begun using FH, and I find it excellent. Easier to use than TMG, faster, with all of the options.

Biggest Pro: Can transfer Master Genealogist (TMG) files
Biggest Con: Only for Windows PCs

Family Historian Review by James Wignall,  Mar 29, 2015

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

For many years I used software called Generations, an excellent piece of Family Tree software and 100% gedcom compatible. In fact it was so good it was bought by the opposition and taken off the market.

After many enquiries, the only company that offered 100% gedcom compatible software, and brave enough to take on converting my sofware, was Family Historian. No other company offered this option with confidence. As I would lose 15 years research if my gedcom files could no be converted successfully, it was a no brainer. Within a few weeks I was up and running with Family Historian.

Perhaps the best thing of all was that Family Historian maintained exactly the same id nos, for both people and sources, which was vital for me as for example all my photos carry the id nos. of the people and all my paper sources carry the id nos. of the software, allowing me to know who is who on a photo and locate paper sources if required. With some 12,000 people and 8,000 sources, losing track of these would be a nightmare.

If you have limited computer skill as I have, Family Historian is the programme for you. Like most programmes, there are bells and whistles that will never be used by those with limited abilities like myself. Nor are they necessary to enjoy family history. It is the simplicity of coping with the nuts and bolts of family history, BMDs, Photos, Documents, Reports, Charts, etc is what makes Family Historian a best buy.

Biggest Pro: Customer Support, it is outstanding. I never have to wait more than 24 hours for a reply and in many cases a reply is the same day.
Biggest Con: None

Family Historian Review by Tom,  Mar 9, 2015

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

Excellent software for recording your family history. I have been using it since November 2014 after evaluating a number of other packages (Rootsweb, Family Tree Builder etc). While the other packages are good, FH is by far the best. It easily imported my gedcom of 800 individuals and together with its plugins, wonderful sibling ‘Ancestral Sources’ software (for entering Censuses etc in a structured and consistent way) and amazingly helpful user group, I was on the ‘right’ track to ensuring my data was being recorded properly. This is extremely important. Also, it has great interactive diagrams that you can use to enter data while reviewing with relatives, making it easy to see how their contributions are being recorded.

It supports a very reliable methodology of recording sources and associated media and linking them to associated facts and individuals - rather than recording the same information over and over for each fact it supports. This saves time with data input and updates.

FH also enables you to create a very comprehensive website. It comprises static pages rather than using php and mysql database. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what your website is intended for. For example, if you want a read only, report driven website, then it is excellent. If you want a highly interactive and collaborative website then you would want to use webtrees or TNG (the latter of which FH has a plugin to export gedcom so that it easily uploads to TNG).

FH handles media very well in that you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) crop pictures before importing them. You can then draw frames around the faces to associate them with specific individuals.

I would highly recommend Family Historian to anyone who would is looking for a solid way to record, report and review their family history.

Biggest Pro: Interactive diagrams, handling media, overall structure and workflow, user group
Biggest Con: Doesn’t generate diagrams as webpages when creating website… yet! (you have to pdf and upload)

Family Historian Review by Adrian Robinson,  Jan 15, 2015

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

I have tried several other FH programmes, but in my opinion Family Historian (V6) is the best.

The programme is very comprehensive yet simple for a novice to learn. The flow of data input is logical and easy to implement. The reports and charts are easily customisable and pleasant to review,

Being relatively new to the prinicpals of data recording, I have made mistakes, then realised after reading the help files that altering my methods, would result in better presentations and easier data source interragation.

The support from FH and the FHUG is very good. Plug ins are useful

(please excuse any spelling mistakes!)

Biggest Pro: Easy to use and comprehensive
Biggest Con: None - but spell checker would help me.

Family Historian Review by Keith,  Jan 10, 2015

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

As a long-term (but still novice!) family historian I have been particularly impressed by the latest upgrade to Version 6. It adds several additional features; Mapping (geocoding), and the ability to link photographs to the face of the person without having to crop the actual photo are the ones that, thus far, I have made most use of.

It is highly ‘customisable’ (horrible word!) so reports and diagrams can show pretty much exactly what you wish to include and emphasise. This can get complicated but the default settings will get you going and there is an active and excellent User Group full of experts to help out novices.

There has been some controversy over the optional link to Hints from My Heritage, as a possible security/ privacy risk, but this can be switch off on installation and my personal view is that the risk is minimal and I have left it On - the hints may come in useful.

Biggest Pro: Flexibility, backed up by the User Group
Biggest Con: It can be complex; but the defaults are more than adequate if you want to keep it simple.

Family Historian Review by Melanie,  Jan 7, 2015

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

I have been using FH 3.2 for years but didn’t really use all of the features. I have recently upgraded to version 6 and have started to explore it further. I am really impressed with what it can do especially with the mapping and the web clipping. As most of my research is online it is helpful to be able to view the property box and the web page at the same time and drag and drop text or images into fields/records. Although not part of the application, Ancestral Sources is a valuable addition which speeds up the entry of census and other records. The plugins that you can download are excellent. Again these are not from Callico but they really make FH very flexible and there are more in progress. The user group is definitely worth a visit, they are very helpful and I have found some great suggestions too.

Biggest Pro: web clipping, mapping, all the add-ons
Biggest Con: none at present

Family Historian Review by Brent Tapscott,  Dec 17, 2014

4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

I have been using TMG for many years, building up a project with around 4,000 people over that time. Increasingly I became frustrated with the way the system worked - not so much in terms of functionality, but its antiquated appearance and structures. Thus the search for a replacement started a year or so before TMG announced it was closing.
Family Historian (FH) was one of a number of applications that I used / trialled, but it was the one that I found easiest to use. Although it “works” differently than TMG, I found I was quickly able to understand the basics and, in fairly short time, many of the more intricate areas. Most of my time has been spent working on migrating my TMG data - a task made more difficult by TMG’s non-Gedcom structures, but I have found most data has transferred successfully.

I particularly like the plugin approach - this allows people other than the original developers to offer extra functions and thus broaden the overall functionality of the application (my personal view is that these plugins effectively form part of the application).
During the time I have been using the application a major upgrade came out - the upgrade process was completely painless (unlike that for TMG!). There is also a very active FH User Group, with some very experienced users providing assistance when I have raised (often, very stupid) questions.
I have only needed to contact Calico support on two occasions and both elicited very prompt, informative responses.

Biggest Pro: Plugins and User Group
Biggest Con: None yet

Family Historian Review by Mick,  Oct 10, 2014

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

What an outstanding program: for the past decade, I have used (what I considered) the leading application of the US-oriented/produced programs in this genre.
However, Family Historian 5 is a standout in my view, and well worth the effort in recently moving my databases across to it.
FH5 has a clean, crisp UI which displays a significant amount of information in one view. It is simple to navigate and use, and yet is powerful and can facilitate the most customisation of any of the market leading programs. The fact that it published in English (and not Amglish) is just cream for those non-US users around the world. Additionally, the fantastic user group attached to this program is a wonderful support for all queries, and the ‘Plug-Ins’ idea is one of the few truly innovative ideas I’ve seen in any of these programs in the decade.
Well worth serious consideration for any family historian, IMHO.

Biggest Pro: crisp user interface, user-friendly, powerful
Biggest Con: yet to find any

Family Historian Review by Irene Blackburn,  Aug 11, 2014

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

I have been using FH for some years now and I am really happy with it, I love having access to the User Group Forums and the Knowledge wiki. As well as a very good program, there are also the extras like Ancestral Sources for data entry and various plugins written by other FH users to complement it.

Biggest Pro: Easy to use, but versatile
Biggest Con: no major problems I can think of

Family Historian Review by jimlad,  Aug 10, 2014

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

I am a fairly new user of Family Historian (FH) Version 5, but have just gone through the process of moving from one genealogy program to another so I hope these observations are of help. The main thing is to decide what you want from the software and try them (the major 3, Legacy, RootsMagic and Family Historian all have free cut down versions), check if the user groups are helpful and active producing plugins etc. It takes time up front, but might save lots later.

I think many first time users get in a mess and give up because it is so easy to start your tree, especially from one of the website tree builders, but the problem arises when you want to do more, you may want a program that does different things than your first choice. So I say just get going on any program, PC, Mac or web based, AS LONG AS IF YOU WANT TO MOVE TO ANOTHER PROGRAM YOUR DATA IS PORTABLE. This is also because software and websites can become discontinued or change. Although now an outdated standard, GEDCOM file export is still the main vehicle for transferring and sharing genealogical data.

FH claims to be 100% GEDCOM compatible, there seems to be a few exceptions but they are easily fixed if required for export. This means that if you ever want to move or share your data in the future, it should be easy. FH also takes most GEDCOM files as input and can often “repair” bad ones.

To me the user interface is the most striking feature, so fast, the reports updated in real time and “Smart Trees” (diagrams, charts) not only update in real time and are WYSIWYG but you can add items or go to other records directly via the tree.

I have not used the media functions much, but FH prides itself on this feature. There seems to be no standard for sharing media items but many programs can “talk to each other”, but it may not be automatic.


I had been productively using The Master Genealogist (TMG) for many years and even before TMG was discontinued I kept looking for something “faster”, but could not find anything that gave reports and charts that were as good. I tried FH some years ago and discounted it, but what a difference V5 has made, especially with its Plugin capability.

- The data is stored in a GEDCOM file. So simple to look at, work on, manipulate with macros etc.

- FH is so fast! Also has real time interaction with the most flexible and fast charting (trees) I have ever seen.

- Charts, Queries, Reports. Amend the data and the chart/report/query updates in real time. Data query is very flexible with most fields clickable. In terms of data the Tree (Chart, Diagram), database Query and Narrative reports, is very powerful.

- The workspace is difficult to explain, with real time charts, reports, queries, person, family details, flagged lists, bookmarks etc.

- The latest version FH V5 added a feature for users to add their own “Lua” database plugins queries, programs etc. There is a strong user group that have written plugins from change tag type, extensive search+replace to GPS/LatLong event based display on Google Maps.

- Media, they pride themselves on this but I have not used it much yet.

- There is website (or CD) production built in, easy to use and can also be used as a report and is handy for navigating while researching or keying.

- Witnesses - not in V5 (but is rumoured for V6). However, I have been converted to what they call “method 1″ Sources whereby, say for a census, you enter the detail once in the source text then link all occupants to that source, i.e. the data is only entered once. There is a very powerful user built plugin to assist with this data entry.

- PLACes. To me this is not as flexible as TMG. TMGs “effectively” comma separated PLACe field is both simple and potentially powerful. FH does use comma separated fields like TMG, but the reporting has limited use of the fields. It is rumoured that V6 will make this much more flexible. However, it also optionally uses the ADDRess. There is a fairly simple plugin that will copy all the PLAC fields to the ADDR fields and on the way convert them to say your preferred abbreviation for use in charts etc. You can use the PLAC and ADDR independently and with a plugin generate say an abbreviated address from the full PLACe.

- GPS - FH has nothing inbuilt yet but there is a powerful user plugin, showing PLACe details on Google Maps, that can store the LatLong in the GEDCOM via the Repository Records &/or Source Records.

- Currently FH has a 30 day free trial of the full product, but without the use of Plugins. I am hopeful that they will be included in future as the plugins are an important aspect of FH V5, so in the meantime you will just have to read about them!

Biggest Pro: fast, portable data with GEDCOM design, charts/trees and their flexible data choice.
Biggest Con: Still awaiting built in GPS type functions.

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