What is GEDCOM?

GEDCOM is a “standard” format devised by the Church of the Latter Day Saints to support GEnealogical Data COMmunication of family history records.

There is an excellent and detailed article on the history and use of GEDCOM on the Encyclopedia of Genealogy.

There is also a useful GEDCOM page in Wikipedia.

As of version 7, Family Historian supports GEDCOM Standard Release 5.5.1.

Family Historian

Family Historian (ƒh) stores its information directly in a GEDCOM file and (from ƒh version 7) exports it by default as UTF-8 without a BOM, which will work for a variety of destinations. Earlier versions of ƒh used different formats, so take care to check compatibility with your intended destination. In all versions, you may need to use addtionial tools to prepare your data.

These tools include the Split Tree Helper, Import/Export > Export > GEDCOM File, Utility ~ RJT Family Historian Converter, Utility ~ Res Privata – Gedcom Privatisation, and Family Historian Plugins such as Export Gedcom File.

One thing worth remembering is that most other genealogy programs do not use GEDCOM as their standard format in the way ƒh does, so when sending a file to people not using ƒh, make sure you tell them they will need to use the Import or Merge option to load the GEDCOM data into their program.

For more information see the Import and Export topics.

GEDCOM Extensions

The standard fields defined by GEDCOM have Tag names, such as SEX, DATE, NOTE, or NAME, that are followed by their data value.

GEDCOM allows custom user-defined fields with an underscore (_) prefix on the field Tag names, such as _ROOT, _EMAIL, or _TYPE, to distinguish them from standard Tag names.

ƒh uses these to support additional functionality. See the GEDCOM Extension List.

Some genealogy products add custom fields without an underscore (_) prefix and are thus invalid GEDCOM. These and any other unrecognised field Tag names imported to ƒh are treated as Uncategorised Data Fields (UDF).

Last update: 22 Feb 2024