This is the first in a series of blog posts by Anna Hopkins-Arnold, genealogist for Rootfinders Genealogy Research, in Durango, Colorado reviewing the ability of Family Tree Maker 2012 to accurately represent real families with complex relationships. This series was inspired by a challenge issued in a recent blog post (regrettably no longer available on the web) by George Geder of Geder Genealogy in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

George challenged genealogy software developers to ensure that their products could represent all the diverse types of families that we have in the modern world. He mentioned alternatives including adoptive families, foster families, blended-families, and families with bi-racial children, and gay or transgendered family members.  He showed an example using Family Tree Maker 2012 to represent a gay couple and wondered whether race could be shown on the pedigree tree.  He asked if others had been able to customize Family Tree Maker 2012.

As a long-time user of Family Tree Maker, I’ve used several versions and had occasion to use it to represent some pretty unusual family relationships.  I’ve found that our ancestors’ relationships could be as complex as those of the modern world.  But since I’ve just recently installed the latest version (Family Tree Maker 2012) at Rootfinders Genealogy Research, I decided to see if this newest version could meet George’s challenge.

Displaying Race (or any custom fact) in Family Tree Maker 2012

I started with the easiest part, adding a “Race” fact.  I discovered that my oldest Family Tree Maker file, one that’s been imported through all the versions of Family Tree Maker since 1999, already had a fact for “Race”, probably a relict of an older version of FTM.  If your file has been imported through several versions check to see if the fact you want (or something similar) already exists. However, new files created in Family Tree Maker 2012 do not include race in the default fact list.

To add race (or any new fact), first go to the fact screen. To get there, click “People” on the top menu, Click the “Person” tab, Click the button for “Facts” (usually the default display on that tab). Next, click the “+” button to add a fact and when the list of facts appears, check to see if your fact is there and if not, click the “new” button to add a new type of fact. You can now add “shared” facts which appear on the fact list for both members of a marriage/partnership.

I have not found a way to display the race fact on the pedigree charts that you post to, but you can certainly select that fact to be printed in the box on pedigree charts generated from the Family Tree Maker program.


I thought Family Tree Maker met the challenge of displaying Race (or any custom fact) on the pedigree tree. What do you think?

In my next blog entry, I’ll show how to customize relationship descriptions to accurately describe real modern and historic relationships situations.


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