Review by Lisa Goins, Dwarven Tavern Cyberzine
Company: Sierra Home
Product: Generations Deluxe Edition. Family Tree Software
This is a 4 CD program with book for work with genealogy and research.
I would like to thank Sierra for sending me the Generations (Genealogy) program I requested at the E3 (Atlanta, GA-May 98). While listening to the product described it came up that included was Social Security CD and information on those who had been dead 20 years. Now, at that time my grandmother had just passed so she wasn't listed but her husband who had died 17 years prior to her was listed. Just a few clicks and poof, my grandfather's social security was listed. This could be really great for those having difficulty linking relatives.
Why did I take so long to review this program? Well, I wasn't prepared for the can of worms I would open. First installation to the hard drive wasn't too bad and I actually installed it more than once. This proved troublesome when I found I was saving information in each program. ACK! Then all hell broke loose when my program was bumped for another must save game. (Victim: One Mr. Goins)
Once getting past this issue. I entered data, again. Occasionally I would get lost in all my pages of information. Did I tell you my one grandmother had 14 children and the other had 10 children? So I would use the pedigree tree. Sometimes this wouldn't help since I would be looking for a child not the parent, thus getting lost in all the branches of the family tree. I had to refer to my notes to navigate.
I was getting frustrated with the program because it was a tool to use the information of which I had little to start with and they do warn you it won't do your tree for you. So I tried Cyndi Howells Netting Your Ancestors, a book that comes with your deluxe edition's CD collection. This book is very, very basic. Excellent for the family that hasn't a clue to the Internet. In chapters 1& 2 it explains how to get online and how to e-mail. So skip to chapter 3 if you're reading this. I found several e-mailing list, news groups, etc., which where helpful to me. Did you know "Goins" is one of the 30+ names listed with the Gowan foundation and for a small fee.... Right they didn't have any of our family trees, but when I had completed our tree would I send it in to them.
Then I started with the censuses to locate missing family members. (This can be a good source.) However, because part of the family lived up in the hills and avoided outsiders they were left out of the censuses and those that were mentioned couldn't spell or talked with an accent leaving to variations of the spelling of Goins. As I learned later with the other family names this was very common.
Then I tried the cemetery listings. This too, proved to be a headache. My father-in-law told me the name of the cemetery and it just wasn't listed. Okay, either he's losing his memory, which I seriously doubt or someone hasn't loaded the information, or worse. So after much fuss and fury we loaded up V-GER (Betsy's replacement) and headed south to the hills to find this mysterious place. Don't you love a good mystery?
We found the old dirt road, now paved and the landmark tree from where the cemetery in question got it's name, but no cemetery. There stood a recreation center instead and the cemetery entrance had been moved from where my father-in-law remembered. After much disgust did my mother-in-law decide to get out of the car and smoke. She was in no hurry to see her dead mother-in-law's grave. J Then she spotted it, behind us on the side of a hill. We found the entrance and did we get lucky! The entire family back to 1815/1816 was buried all in one place. I had only expected just to find a few graves and have to keep hunting for years.
We spent the day photographing and recording the list of graves. This is very important to do since not all photographs will come out and using additives to the tombstones will eat away at the information on them. Many cemeteries have not been taken care of or their contents even on record. There are several organizations that have tried to preserve cemeteries listed on the web. As I found out this cemetery our family was buried in had 500 graves with around 200 unknown due to no stones or stones eaten away with time. Later we found a distant cousin who had wrote a book and listed who was in the cemetery, but we found errors in his work and from great-grandmother on, our side was missing. Thus, yours truly became the keeper of the tome of Goins' family history.
Next was my family who put the program through the test. My father's side had their annual reunion and since my grandmother (97) had just died earlier in the year I thought this would be one of the most important reunions to attend. Nearly everyone showed up.
As most researchers will tell you, start with your family. I got them all to give me as much family history as they could. I had them write it in their own handwriting. This promoted accuracy and correct spelling of names. I found out where my great-grandparents were buried and that my great-grandfather came to America when he was only 12. Later I found their tombstone and it was in mint condition. Extremely rare from what I was finding. Since this side of the family lives to be in their 80's and 90's I took great jumps in time, when preparing my family tree.
Next was my mother's family. My mother, a cousin, and several relatives had been working on this side. I'm the only techie in the group, thus using computers and all the information I can grab up. I later linked up with a distant cousin on the net, whom my mother had been calling long distance, saving wads of cash for her. However, just on this side alone I have 40 first cousins. Up came the family reunion and out came loads of information and pictures. I convinced my cousin to loan me his info and my mom, her's plus what I had from everyone else and went to work. I had less than 24 hours to do it all. My cousin was leaving for his long trip back to Florida and wanted to take his one of a kind pictures with him. So into "convention mode" I went. Scanning, copying, typing, loading information. It looked like a final count down to a convention in our office. Not only did I meet my cousin's dead line I made 4 copies of complete info with Sierra's genealogy pedigree overviews taking our family back from 1998 to 1790. This really impressed my family. So I zipped out to my mom's (hour's drive) and handed her copy to keep and one to hand out to the family to copy if they wished, plus one for my cousin. My mom then hopped into the car and drove over to where everyone had gathered to wish everyone good-bye and returned the pictures and the copy. Oohs and ahs as my family drooled over the information I had neatly displayed using Generations. Two days later my mother phoned me to tell me how my (very picky and neat) Aunt had read all the information on the way back to Florida and what a neat overview of the family I had provided with the program I had used. It was official, I was now the guardian of this side of the families tome.
Over all the program got me started but had little to offer me in finding my relatives. The immigration CD and the Death (Social Security) Index had little to offer me and Cyndi's book didn't have the information I need but with links from links I did find what I was looking for.
Now for a gamers stand point. Many of us historical gamers will find this program useful for keeping track of our character's family, clans, tribes to give our role playing experience a kick as well as remembering those battles long pasted.
If anything, at least you'll know where you came from.