Family Tree Recommendations #general

David Lerer

Any recommendation for a family tree application? I do understand that MyHeritage is linked with JewishGen. Has it been a good experience with MyHeritage? Or any other software? Thanks, David.

Karen Lukeman

I originally put my family tree on MyHeritage, but when I exceeded the number of entries, I created a family tree on Geni because it was free & unlimited AND so that I could link up with the World Family Tree. Subsequently, I was able to find two branches of my Israeli family on of which made me learn that my great-grandfather had remarried after my great-grandmother passed away so I have lots more cousins!!

I also have since subscribed to MyHeritage for full is a long term deal, so that the annual price was much better.  
Karen Calmon Lukeman
KALMANOWITZ (Lyubcha and towns near Grodno, Vilna and Minsk)
GOLDSMITH (Bakshty and Ivje)
NASSER (Damascus)
BENBAJI (Damascus)
BALLAS (Damascus)


I have not had a good experience with MyHeritage.

Main problems:

- Places. It wants modern names of places instead of the genealogically-correct name at the time of the event, and there are many, many, many places that it simply Will Not Take under any label that I've been able to come up with.

- Names. It insists that a married woman's surname is the same as her husband's, which is just Totally WRONG for my ancestors. I can turn this behavior off for myself, but that does not help with hints and other external material.

- Data presentation. It calls everything a "historical record" -- actual historical records, phone book compilations, user-contributed trees, miscellaneous online dreck: all of it is a historical record with default confidence "primary source".

- Paywalls. It tries to charge me money to access data from FamilySearch. This includes tree matches (a "primary source", donchaknow, see above) with profiles that I put on FS in the first place. I really don't know why nobody has sued them over this: how is it not blatant fraud to charge me money for freely-available material (which happens to be my own work)?

Offline, I use a glorified text editor to work directly with a GEDCOM file. This suits my brain, but is not what most people are looking for. There are lots of options, though, and many of them are free or have free versions ( (One important detail: last I checked, Legacy still hadn't implemented Unicode, so if you have ancestors from any place further east than England, you'll have trouble entering their names correctly in that program.)

The online free trees I have experience with are all collaborative: FamilySearch Family Tree, WikiTree, Geni. They are generally good places to work, as long as you're clear that it's not "your tree", and your work there should be supplemented with an offline file, as backup and as a repository for information about living relatives (which doesn't belong anywhere online, no matter how privatized).

./\ /\

Marcel Apsel

To add one remark.  Once I found that My Heritage had information on some members of my family, but I had to pay a subscription to view it.  After a while I realized that this information was my own, which I have found through my own research and passed it on a gedcom file to a far distant cousin who put it on geni without my permission and from there it went to My Heritage.  I still have to laugh when I think I had to pay for information I gathered myself.


Marcel Apsel

Antwerpen, Belgium


If you are working on a PC, I would recommend Legacy Family Tree available at .  
If you are working on a Mac, you have two options: run Reunion available at  or run Legacy using Parallels to run this program written for the PC.  If you go to the Legacy website, they have information on how to do the later.

  • Whatever program or website you choose, start by entering a small tree to see how you like it.  Several of the software packages as a free version that you can try.  Until you pay for the full version, there may be limits on the number of people you can enter and the reports you can print out.
  • All genealogy programs have places to enter names, dates, events and sources.  That said, each program has a different user interface.  It is a matter of personal preference as to which you prefer.
  • One thing I particularly like about Legacy, is the way they deal with addresses.  If you entering information from a census they have a natural way to enter addresses (house #, street, town, state...).  Whereas in Reunion, for example, when you enter Census information you have two fields: Location and Memo.  You can enter the full address into the location field, but then you end up with many, many locations, and it is hard to sort them by state or for a mapping program to locate them.  If you enter only the town, county, state in location and use the memo field for the house number and street, then you end up with a more manageable list of locations, and can locate events that happen in the same place more easily.  However, the way this information prints out in reports is awkward. 
  • I would look carefully at what charts and reports they can create as that is one place where they differ.
  • Personally, I did not find the ability to link automatically to Ancestry useful.  The way Ancestry formats source references is AWFUL.  Not only is every other word Ancestry, but they leave out some information that I consider important.  Their branding is so over done that they claim they are the author of such documents as the US Census.  It will take you less time to do the transfer by hand than to clean up their mess.  Also, a manual transfer encourages you to really look at the information to make sure it is applicable to your tree
  • Look at their customer support.  Legacy has the advantage that they have an extensive library of videos both on how to use their software and on general topics of interest to genealogists.
  • On line v. on your computer:
    • I personally fell I have more control over my information if it is on my computer than online.
    • On line involves an ongoing fee to maintain full access to your information.  On your computer, there is a one time cost to purchase the software.
    • Geni is a cooperative tree in which other people can edit the information you enter.
    • Ancestry has a very limited ability to create charts and reports. 
    • I have not had much experience with My Heritage.
  • Backup, backup, backup.  This is a good idea whether you are talking genealogy or just in general.  Whether your tree is online or on your computer, you should always back it up.  For example, if you tree is online at  Ancestry, you should periodically download a gedcom.  If your tree is on your computer, you should periodically save a backup copy (just in case you make changes that you need to later undo) AND you should have a backup off site, in case you computer is. damaged, lost or stolen.  Options for off site backup may be as simple as putting it on a thumb drive and giving it to someone else to keep. Another option, is there are a few commercial products you can purchase that will automatically backup your entire computer.

Max Heffler

With Internet search technology and “The Way-Back Machine” going back to the beginning on the Internet, I choose to have trees everywhere I can:


Primary on, less current versions on MyHeritage and, JewishGen Famiy Tree of the Jewish People, Wikitree, FamilySearch, DNA sites like 23andMe, LivingDNA,,, and probably others I have forgotten. My work is guaranteed to outlive me.


Max Heffler

Houston, TX



Web sites I manage - Personal home page, Greater Houston Jewish Genealogical Society, Woodside Civic Club, Skala, Ukraine KehilalLink, Joniskelis, Lithuania KehilaLink, and pet volunteer project - Yizkor book project:




Web sites I manage - Personal home page, Greater Houston Jewish Genealogical Society, Woodside Civic Club, Skala, Ukraine KehilalLink, Joniskelis, Lithuania KehilaLink, and pet volunteer project - Yizkor book project:

Sarah L Meyer

I like Legacy Family tree.  It is important to me to keep my tree on my computer.  The paid version ($35) offers cloud backup, it also has many more capabilities than the free version, but you can start with the free version and upgrade later without losing any data.  The family view screen, and colors are customizable.  
Sarah L Meyer
Georgetown TX
BIRGARDOVSKY, EDELBERG, HITE (CHAIT), PERCHIK Russia (southern Ukraine) and some Latvia or Lithuania


I must add that Geni is free but only if you don't do searches. I was found by a cousin that I didn't know existed who could do research on Geni because he pays. Geni to my understanding is also owned by 'myheritage'.

Rafael Manory