Documenting Unknown Dates

Genealogists and family historians often find themselves with unknown dates for events they have researched. How to capture this in a genealogical database is not immediately apparent to many of us. We think, “Perhaps I should enter ‘Unknown,’ or a question mark, or omit the date entirely.” After all that work, it seems like something should be documented to indicate that research has been done and no conclusion reached. Trying to force the date field to do more than it’s intended or capable of doing isn’t the solution. It could be an indication that we’re not confident that our research is well documented or that our plan is recorded. What should one enter in a genealogical database when the date of an event is unknown? How should one deal with that feeling of unease that’s causing them to look at the date field as a cure-all? This article will answer both questions for you. Let’s start with what to do with the unknown date.
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Reunion 1.0 for iPhone & iPod touch Review

It took only a few minutes with Reunion for iPhone & iPod Touch to realize that researching and writing this review would not be a trivial effort; there’s so much this iPhone app can do! Let’s begin with the requirements so that’s clear up front.


For Reunion for iPhone to be of any use to you, your gear (or your wallet) will need to satisfy the following requirements:

Please note that all references in this review to functionality on Apple’s iPhone apply, to the best of my knowledge, equally to their iPod touch. I don’t have one, so I can’t validate this. [Read more…]

How Reunion 9 Users Can Find More Relatives Faster

How You Can Find More Relatives Faster

If you don’t have enough time for your genealogy research and would like to have more, the MacGenealogist Archives may be the best solution for you. You see, genealogy research is subject to Parkinson’s law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

You Can’t Afford to Fiddle

In other words, once you start fiddling with your software you waste big chunks of time that could have been better spent pursuing your genealogy research goals. If your primary hobby is being a computer geek this isn’t so bad, but you’re a genealogist. That means that you’re in pursuit of ancestors and you don’t find relatives by tinkering with your computer.

Robbing Yourself of Time

To make matters worse, Parkinson’s law suggests that when you start fiddling you’re likely to use up lots of your valuable genealogy time. Playing with your software—even when your intent is learning to use it more effectively—robs you of precious research time that will get you to those thrilling discoveries. Don’t get me wrong; I know that you are well served by learning to be more effective with your tools. Mastering your tools will save you time, but you can’t be all day about it.

You Have Undiscovered Ancestors

I know it’s hard to strike a balance between time spent learning and researching, but it’s worth doing. There are ancestors waiting for you to discover that one piece of evidence that will lead you to them. You need time to meticulously focus to uncover them and their relatives.

Discover Your Ancestors Sooner

We can’t make more time, but we can use it more efficiently. You need a tool to help you learn how to better use your Mac so you have the time to enjoy more genealogy breakthroughs sooner.

MacGenealogist Archives Will Help

The MacGenealogist Archives will help you develop mastery of Reunion 9 for Mac while protecting your valuable research time. The archive contains 50 videos–over 459 minutes of helpful video. And they’re only available to GenealogyTools members. Click this link to go become a member.

MacGenealogist Videos Create More Research Time by Focusing Your Learning

Following along with the step-by-step video tutorials in the MacGenealogist Archives will help you free up time to find your relatives. It will focus your learning so you’re not just poking around. And that’s not all!

The MacGenealogist Archives Does So Much More

  • Simple step-by-step video tutorials make you more efficient and effective
  • Reading and seeing details on the videos is easier because they’re large
  • You can take the videos with you and view them without being dependent on an Internet connection
  • See at a glance which videos go together with series color coding

Okay, So What Does It Cost?

The MacGenealogist Archives are only available to GenealogyTools members. You set the membership dues. Pay what you can.

100% Satisfaction Guarantee

I want you to be completely satisfied and I don’t want you to rush through the videos. Take as long as you need to go through the videos. If after you’ve followed along with all the videos you can honestly say the lessons haven’t made you more effective with Reunion 9 for Mac, send me an email and I’ll refund your money.


You can find more ancestors faster by learning the techniques covered in these screencast videos. Using the videos on your computer is even more convenient than on the website. Click this link to go become a member then download the MacGenealogist Archives videos today.

Speed Names

The function in genealogy software for Mac, Reunion 9 that “remembers”  recently typed place names and surnames and “types” them for you upon further use is called speed names. This auto-population occurs in the edit person and edit family windows as well as in lists, when you begin typing a surname or place name. The characters you type are compared to the beginning of the names in the list (sorted alphabetically). The first name  that begins with the same characters that have been typed are suggested. The suggested name can be accepted by pressing the enter (return) or tab key. One can press the down-arrow key to select the next name in the list as sorted alphabetically and the up-arrow to select the predecessor. This seemingly mundane speed names function is a convenience and source of efficiency.

The lists of surnames and place names lists are separate. Each can grow up to 2000 names in length. When a speed name is added to a list that already at the 2000 name maximum, Reunion 9 drops the oldest, least recently used name in that list to make room. The lists can be edited by hand in the speed names preference panel (as demonstrated in this video.

Is that Your Family Bible on eBay?

The online auction site eBay can be a great tool for locating and obtaining genealogical items. For instance, there are regularly family bibles for sale. Imagine a family bible belonging to one of your relatives being sold without you knowing of its availability! Don’t let that happen to you. Watch this video, Finding Genealogy Items on eBay, in which I take you step-by-step through these common genealogy item searches on eBay:

  • Family Names
  • Place Names (including city directories)
  • Companies
  • Book Titles

Finally, here is a tip I didn’t mention in the video: Only use the word “and” in a search if the search phrase actually includes it (the same goes for the word “or”). eBay’s search isn’t as feature rich as most of the online search tools we are accustomed to as genealogists. It doesn’t have the ability to do and/or queries.

In the next screencast in this series I’ll show you how to automate these searches so you don’t have to run them yourself. If you like this video topic, you’ll be interested to know that the bonus screencast available exclusively in the MacGenealogist Archives, demonstrates a little known way to win eBay auctions at lower prices.

GenealogyTools Members, download this video to your computer for your private use.

How to Download Your Family Tree from to Your Macintosh is a great service. They make searching for and accessing records about our relatives very simple. They also have a very nice online family tree management system, but even if you maintain one or more family trees on, you’ll probably want to get that data onto your Mac. If you don’t have an Ancestry subscription, click here to try FREE with a 14-Day Free Trial.

The good news is that the service supports exporting in a standard format called GEDCOM. The bad news is that while they’ve made it relatively simple to do, the functionality is sort of buried in the site. In this video, How to Download Your Family Tree for Use in Your Mac Genealogy Software, I show you where it is and how to use it to get the genealogy information you’ve captured in onto your Mac.

GenealogyTools Members, download this video to your computer for your private use.

Exploring GEDitCOM II 1.0 Beta Version 2

I took the recent beta 2 release of GEDitCOM II for a spin and recorded what I saw. GEDitCOM is different from other Mac genealogy database programs for two primary reasons: its native file format is GEDCOM, so no translation of data is necessary, and its interface is highly customizable through the use of templates. According to the website there are five guiding principles that set GEDitCOM apart. Among them are the two I highlighted.

If you’re interested in this how this application is coming along, but are reluctant to install and use it while it’s in a beta state, or you’ve never seen it before and are curious, watch this video, Exploring Mac Genealogy Software GEDitCOM II Beta Version 2. In it I walk you through how to download and install the GEDitCOM II beta then I kick the tires by loading a test GEDCOM file and poking around.

GenealogyTools Members, download this video to your computer for your private use.