Gramps - Genealogy Application

 · 2 min read
 · shakiestnerd
Table of contents

One of my goals is to get back into doing family tree research. That means getting organized! I have quite a bit of information collected over the years. This includes GEDCOM data from using previous genealogy applications.

Yes, I know, is highly recommended for doing genealogy research. I'm just not willing to pay the prices they are asking to use the service at this time. Maybe if I get serious about doing research and have the time (like when I retire) then it would be worth the price to me.

Until then, there is plenty of clean up and organizing to do.


I have settled on using a personal genealogy application named "Gramps" to help with organizing my data.

Gramps is an acronym: it stands for

  • Genealogical
  • Research and
  • Analysis
  • Management
  • Programming
  • System.

Rather humerous.

My criteria for choosing Gramps were:

  • It needs to import / export GEDCOM (that's a basic feature)
  • It must be able to run on Windows and native Linux (cross-platform)
  • It should look decent (some applications look terrible)

Turns out, most genealogy software is targeted at Windows. The choices for Linux are limited, and Gramps looks to be the best cross platform choice.

an acronym standing for Genealogical Data Communication) is an open de facto specification for exchanging genealogical data between different genealogy software. GEDCOM was developed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) as an aid to genealogical research. Wikipedia

So Far, So Good

I have been using Gramps for a little while now and there are some things I don't like and there are some pleasant surprises as well.

I imported my GEDCOM data without difficulty. I even recovered from having to redo my hard drive back in July.

The biggest thing I have not liked was just being confused by the program. The more I use it and figure out how things work, the better it gets. The online documentation is a little rough and seems to focus more on developer information than end users. BUT -- this is free and open source software which encourages users to contribute to the documentation wiki. So, that sounds like an excellent opportunity to add some value to the program. I hope to do some of that.

One thing I really like is that places use an "enclosed by" idea. For example, Mobile is enclosed by Mobile County which is enclosed by Alabama which is enclosed by the United States. As a result, you can build a heirarchy of locations.

For example, if you find your grandfather is from Tennesse, that is the place you use initially. Then later on, you may find he lived in Bedord County. So, just add Bedford County inside of Tennessee. This allows you to build the granularity of your places as you discover more about your family.

My old GEDCOM file data is not set up that way. I have a ton of duplicate places and have been cleaning up all the place information so that it is much better organized. Managing places deserves its own article. Hope to get to that and explain in depth.