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
Overall554.86 out of 54.86 out of 54.86 out of 54.86 out of 54.86 out of 5 4.86
201815 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 5.00
201745 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 5.00
Earlier504.74 out of 54.74 out of 54.74 out of 54.74 out of 54.74 out of 5 4.74

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55 Reviews of Family Historian     RSS 2.0 RSS     Showing 21 - 40                   Add Your Review

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.

Family Historian Review by Jane,  Apr 9, 2014

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

I began using Family Historian at the beginning of 2000 after researching the pros and cons of other programmes It has consistently been updated and improved over the years since then and the support and information provided by Jane Taubman and the F H Users is second to none.better

Biggest Pro: Too numerous to mention ; However its flexibility,adaptabilty and its warning when dates conflict are a few of is features which I find particularly useful and last but not least the Fabulous Users Group s Family Users group who provide support and some usefull addons
Biggest Con: None thus far

Family Historian Review by Bob Brock,  Mar 8, 2014

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

I’ve been using Family Historian for at least ten years now and am very happy with it. Its capabilities are endless - which may mean that some beginners find them slightly daunting - but having tried several other family history programs in the past I can thoroughly recommend it. In a nutshell, if you want to do something, there’s almost certainly a way to do it, and the independent User Group is always there to help you find out how if you can’t find it in the manual. It is also very good in checking your data when importing it from other programs, If you’re a complete beginner with family tree software then just maybe FH isn’t the first choice, but you’ll find you’re quickly outgrowing some of the other software on the market and need a program that can grow with you as you become more experienced. As a final point, for those of us who become exasperated by the US-oriented programs on the market, here’s one that can handle many of the issues of European genealogy.

Biggest Pro: A top-notch helpful and independent user group
Biggest Con: May take time to learn all the things you can do

Family Historian Review by Brian Curtis,  Mar 6, 2014

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

Having used Family Historian 5 since May 2013 I have found this to be the best family history program on the market. I tried a few well known brands between 2011 and May 2013 and none of these including market leaders produced what I was looking for.

Family Historian software is easy to use, allows you to create custom facts, diagrams, reports to name a few. Importing from other software using a GEDCOM file is easy, should you want help before starting this look no further than the FHUG websites Knowledge Base where detailed instructions on importing your tree are there to help and guide you.

Should you need any help using Family Historian then posting your problem on the FHUG Forum will be met by friendly, helpful people who are willing to assist you to overcome your problem no matter how small or large. The knowledge base and forum has a vast amount of information there waiting to help you make the most of using this brilliant software.

The ability to create your own reports, facts, sources etc gives the user flexibility that other programs don’t allow.

I wish I had known about Family Historian sooner because entering census, baptism, marriage information using the free Ancestral Sources program which automatically creates source records and citations makes this so easy. My family history is much more detailed than that allowed by other software programs.

Biggest Pro: Very easy to use and allows creation of custom features, brilliant help available
Biggest Con: None

Family Historian Review by Irene B,  Feb 2, 2014

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

I have been using Family Historian for several years now. Every so often I try other products but I always come back to it because it is so easy to use at a basic level, but so rewarding to use at a more advanced level. I never feel constrained by the software and the user group forums are superb.

Biggest Pro: Highly adaptable, excellent help available.
Biggest Con: There are so many features that I will never learn how to use them all.

Family Historian Review by J. Poole,  Dec 27, 2013

2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5

I think that if you start out with Family Historian, it would be a very satisfactory program. But if you have a substantial amount of data in another program, and try to import it, you may find- as I did- that FH has a very hard time getting things right. And many of the errors I had would require a ‘plug in’ to correct, and plug-ins are not available to anyone using trial versions, so you had better check this program out very carefully before spending your money.

There are quite good programs out there that cost less than FH and which imported my GEDCOM flawlessly, so I passed on FH. My interaction discussing this problem with support consisted of them telling me that my data was bad and their garbled result was correct, so from my experience, don’t expect much from support.

Biggest Pro: I wasn’t able to evaluate enough to answer
Biggest Con: they have a bit of an attitude…

Family Historian Review by J Stark,  Nov 29, 2013

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

Have used FH since 2004, and have never wanted or needed to change. I use it for files of many branches, plus several small one-name studies.
Editing/adding, etc., from diagrams is really easy.
A big plus has to be the support group - I have learnt a lot about computers, not just about the programme!

Biggest Pro: Diagrams
Biggest Con: None

Family Historian Review by John,  Sep 23, 2013

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

I’d only ever used a free program before this - WOW, what an eye opener Family Historian proved to be! Switching from software I’d grown familiar with was a bit of a bind but the advantages are huge. The scope of the program is immense. Whilst easy to use at the basic level, if you’re prepared to delve a little deeper then the opportunities to alter things to suit your particular needs are very probably available. It may need the excellent assistance provided by the User Group, but for a little effort…

When you’ve been researching your family history for as long as I have, the ability to interrogate the database is vital. Again, the standard basic reports are adequate but some ‘light’ reading will allow you to make full use of the software and in addition, many of the great ‘plug-ins’ that are written by regular users and provide extra reports etc.

It’s improved my researching ability and revealed the odd mistake along the way. Wish I’d found this software earlier.

Biggest Pro: Ability to alter things to suit and the great User Group - you’ll never be stuck for an answer.
Biggest Con: None that I’ve yet encountered. (Using it for about twelve months)

Family Historian Review by Anne,  Sep 13, 2013

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

Family Historian has been my friend for years now. When I began I had a different, long forgotten program. It did’t do half the things I wanted and became unstable. Changing to FH was a shock to the system but it repays a bit of patience and work getting to know it. When you start using the program you can work at the basic level and begin using the great features as and when you need them. I’ve just upgraded to v5 and know that the program will be able to do virtually everything I could think of, although I may need the help of the wonderful User Group!

I use FH for two different families and two One Name Studies. Great!

Family Historian Review by Pat,  Apr 28, 2013

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

Love this programme and I find it really easy to use. Its particular strength is the way it handles photographs. I haven’t really explored the new plugins on the new version but they look interesting. Couple of niggles-perhaps a field for an individual’s military service would be good. However I have just converted to a Mac and despite trying to run it through special software it has become unstable. Please, please can we have a Mac version.

Biggest Pro: I find it really easy to use with so many great features
Biggest Con: There is no Mac version

Family Historian Review by Gabrielle Baker,  Apr 27, 2013

2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5

I chose Family Historian due to it’s claims of Gedcom handling as well as the queries and the dropline trees. I have upgraded twice now but what has been a minor annoyance has now become a major one, and other problems have now reared their heads as well. If you have multiple ancestors that are descended from a single common ancestor in the charts these are denoted by the common ancestor being duplicated with arrow between each instance denoting the link. The FH die hards in the user group think this is a real advantage but I find it a major annoyance. Some of it can be averted by better tree design. If you end up with a lot of aristocracy or even royalty in your tree the resulting charts can be impossible to look at. I am having to consider having to buy another program in order to get better charting capabilities. I have already had to fork out for another genealogy program for my ipad and iphone as they dont have an app yet. My other pet gripe is to do with how it handles names and titles (though I think this is true of all geneaolgy programs) the capabilities around names and titles of royalty, aristocracy and medieval ancestors is severely limited. yes you can use custom fields but using the title and or custom fields does not override what was put in the standard name field, so if you have a run of ancestors all of the same name say Joe Brown that’s all you will see in the index of persons in the database or printed on a tree.

Biggest Pro: Gedcom handling
Biggest Con: tree drawings where there multiple common ancestors

Family Historian Review by Jan Ledochowski,  Apr 27, 2013

Not Rated

My review depends completely on whether or not you can use foreign language fonts. As you know in Windows computers you can set up languages like EN, FR or PL (Polish) so you just choose the relevant icon and you are typing in that language. Before buying I was told that you could use foreign language fonts, but so far I have not been able to discover how to use them. As many of my relatives are Polish inability to type their names in correctly would kill this programme for me!

Biggest Pro: Have not really started due to font problem
Biggest Con: Does not (yet?) cope with foreign language fonts

Family Historian Review by Dave Tomlinson,  Mar 18, 2013

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

I have used this program for a number of years. I bought it for its GEDCOM compliance but you would never believe that the data is not held in a fancy relational database. You never need to enter, or update, data in more than one place. The reporting features are amazing. It is hard to think of nything I want that the program does not provide ‘out-of-the-box’.
Version 5 has introduced plug-ins which are tiny additions that are free to download and add functionality to be dreamed of. My favourite is the Census Checker. It asks for a starting person, or persons, and produces a webpage list of all the ancestors who have not had census records created for all the censuses when they were alive. The webpage includes two links with each record which connect to the search engines at FindMyPast and Ancestry. Click the link and another tab opens for the search for the right person in the right census (I haven’t tried the Ancestry link but the FMP one works perfectly)
If I find another problem I can’t solve a quick email to the very friendly user group will tell me how or someone will offer to write another plug-in or maybe Simon Orde will tell me why the problem can’t be solved. The last usually means that the problem is in my head.
There is an additional program called Ancestral Sources (FREE) which guides you through entering a Census entry, a baptism record, and a marriage certificate (birth certificates, death, burial and probate records are planned). These things can easily be done ‘by hand’ but the program reminds you to fill in ALL the data available and it creates occupation and residence records and birth records, when necessary. It also creates source records and citations.

My family history would be much less well organised and very much less well recorded without Family Historian.

Biggest Pro: It can do anything I can imagine needing.
Biggest Con: I don’t think it has one.

Family Historian Review by Colin,  Jan 7, 2013

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

I use this programme for my One-Name study.

It has a different but intuitive interface that makes data entry easy. With the plug-ins such as Find Duplicates and Ancestral Sources it makes keeping my data clean easy to do. Ancestral Sources is what turned me on to Family Historian and now I won’t use anything else. The ability to run queries against the database to get exactly the report that you need is great too.

Highly recommended

Family Historian Review by Shelagh Boardman,  Jan 3, 2012

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

Very easy to use as a basic family tree builder, and also to progress in as an advanced user. The ability to personalise templates to make narrative reports “flow” as a story is a huge bonus, as is the ability to create your own templates and own queries. The user group is also extremely helpful, as is the user group web site, I can’t think why it wasn’t number 1.

Biggest Pro: Flexibility and narrative reporting
Biggest Con: messy upgrading from early versions

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