Millisecond Publishing Company produces CD-ROM databases of many notable people, showing how they are related. I have described the company's products before, including the American & European Family Forest Millennium Edition, at http://www.eogn.com/archives/news0001.htm and at http://www.eogn.com/archives/news0119.htm, Presidential Family Forest at http://www.eogn.com/archives/news9835.htm, and others. This week I had a chance to try a pre-release of the company's new Family Forest Leadership Edition, a CD-ROM disk for Windows computers.
Millisecond Publishing says that this new disk is “a combination of expanded and greatly improved versions of our eight previous Family Forest titles. All of our earlier work has been merged, connected, expanded, and greatly enhanced in this new Family Forest Leadership Edition."
This new disk connects the relationships of many leaders from a variety of fields, along with thousands their lesser-known ancestors, descendants, and cousins. If you can trace your American or English or European ancestry back to the 1600s, you have an excellent chance of finding ancestors or distant cousins on this disk. Once you can connect to one or more people on this disk, you can then prove relationships to other notables although they will probably be even more distant relationships. This disk includes ancestry and relationship information about individuals involved in the Alamo and Texas Independence, The Bible and The Da Vinci Code, the U.S. Civil War, European royalty and nobility, Hawaii, hereditary societies, Hollywood, immigrant ancestors, the Revolutionary War, and U.S. Presidents.
Installation of the software is simple: insert the CD-ROM disk into your computer, double-click on SETUP.EXE, and then sit back and watch while the software is installed. A few seconds later everything is ready for use. I will point out that the software is installed onto your hard drive, but the megabytes of data remains on the CD-ROM disk only. You will need to insert the CD-ROM disk into your computer every time you wish to use it.
The Family Forest Leadership Edition disk uses Progeny's Family Explorer software, an excellent choice in my opinion. This program is designed to quickly display data from large genealogy databases and to allow the user to easily navigate up and down family trees. It also has numerous printing options, including some of the nicest looking printed charts that I have ever seen.
I spent some time going through the suggested "15-Minute Introductory Tour." You can see the same tour described at http://www.familyforest.com/tours2002.html. I must admit that it took me more than fifteen minutes to take this "tour," however. It starts with Edward Dean Adams, born in 1846, a financier and railroad tycoon who built the water-power plant at Niagara Falls. The tour then goes to his descendant Judith Adams, born in 1927, then on to her ancestor Adoniram Judson Adams, then to his relative Captain Joseph Bulkeley, and then to his relative Thomas Fairclough, and on and on from one relative to another and another. This "tour" takes the user to King Alfred the Great of England, Duchess Gerberga of Brabant, Queen Isabella II of Spain, Mary Queen of Scots, and Queen Elizabeth II. Admittedly, the relationship of the first person on the "tour" to the last one is very distant, so distant that I cannot find a phrase to describe it.
Seeing the relationship of all these people to each other is rather interesting, to say the least. Progeny's Family Explorer allows the user to view and print most of the "normal" relationships and kinships. For instance, it is easy to find two individuals on the database that share a common ancestor, and then print a chart showing their relationship. The same software will also print hourglass charts, pedigree charts, fan charts, ahnentafel (ancestor) charts, "bow tie" charts, and even Register-format reports. Best of all, it "prints" text reports (not the charts) to a file on your hard drive so that you can then open them with a word processor of your choice and then use them in other documents.
I went looking for a few of my own "distant cousins" and was pleasantly surprised to find a few. I also did a search on the word "Hollywood" anyplace in the "Facts" section and found a long list of Hollywood celebrities. I spent some time looking at the ancestors of Marilyn Monroe, Esther Williams, Orson Welles, Rudolph Valentino, and Clint Eastwood.
Hmmm, I see that Clint is a lot older than I would have guessed! The Family Forest Leadership Edition CD also says that he was a big baby, weighing in at 11 pounds, 6 ounces.
I also found both George W. Bush and John Forbes Kerry listed on this disk and was able to find the relationships between them.
Best of all, the data on the Family Forest Leadership Edition does contain source citations. When looking at any individual, you simply click on the SOURCES button to see all the sources of information for that person. I was delighted to see all these source citations in a database of hundreds of thousands of people. However, keep in mind that the producers of this disk did not search primary records themselves. Instead, they have recorded the sources where they found the information. These typically are secondary sources, not references to primary source records.
In the records that I looked at, the quality of these sources varied widely. I saw numerous references to Virkus' "Compendium of American Genealogy," a set of books known to have a very high error rate, as well as to other books that have excellent reputations. In short, the user needs to verify the information shown; never assume that the information you are looking at is factual. Of course, the same is true for every other genealogy book or CD-ROM containing secondary records!
The Family Forest Leadership Edition requires Windows 95 or later and about 10 megabytes of disk space on your hard drive. It will also operate on Macintosh systems through the use of Virtual PC with Windows 98.
The Family Forest connects recorded knowledge about the family ties that lead to the ancestors of millions of living individuals. Millisecond Publishing says that this disk will help many to be "connected to countless of thousands of their unique ancestors (Ancestors are only parents of parents, etc., and not aunts, uncles, or cousins.) over the span of twenty centuries, many are connected to thirty thousand or more cousins." I agree. Navigating up and down the family trees of thousands of noted individuals is very interesting and may produce surprising results.
The CD that I used was a pre-production beta test version. However, it worked flawlessly for me; I did not encounter any difficulties with it. Millisecond Publishing's Web site says that the Family Forest Leadership Edition is about to be released. It will sell for $249. However, if you order the earlier Family Forest World Record Edition now for $189, you will automatically receive the $249 Family Forest Leadership Edition at no additional charge as soon as it is available.
For more information about the Family Forest Leadership Edition CD-ROM, look at http://www.familyforest.com.