Family Historian 6.1 Has Been Released – the Biggest Free Upgrade for 10 Years

The following announcement was written by the folks at Calico Pie, the company that produces Family Historian software:

FamilyHistorian6LONDON – February 24th, 2016. Calico Pie today announced the release of Family Historian 6.1 – a free upgrade for version 6 users, and the largest free upgrade of the program for more than 10 years.

“There are a number of themes in this release”, explained Calico Pie’s CEO Simon Orde. “Much of it is responding to a long list of requests from our users for detailed improvements of varying kinds. We know that often it’s the small things that make all the difference in terms of usability and we’ve worked hard on getting the details right. But there are some great new features too, like the new Snapshot Manager. We’ve also had genealogists coming to Family Historian from other programs, asking for specific things they need – and we’ve responded to many of these requests too. That means not just improved import, although that is a big part of it, but also feature enhancements. For example, we’ve improved sentence-generation for narrative reports in response to requests from users of The Master Genealogist. We also improved handling of source citation media – primarily in response to requests from Family Tree Maker users. You could see it as a sort of cross-fertilisation, as new users bring influences from other programs. We see that as a very positive thing, and one that has benefitted the program as a whole.”

What’s New in 6.1

For full details of new features and enhancements, please see

Summary of New & Improved Features

  • A new feature called Smart GEDCOM Loading has been added, which delivers big improvements in GEDCOM imports – especially from Family Tree Maker and Ancestry GEDCOM files. The same feature can even be used to recover hidden data in existing Family Historian projects that were previously created by imports from Family Tree Maker or Ancestry.
  • Improvements to direct import from The Master Genealogist and Genbox.
  • Much improved support for Source Citation media.
  • Numerous enhancements to support for witnesses (‘shared events’), including the ability to have multiple roles for witnesses and principals, and to effectively have ‘no-principal’ or ‘multi-principal’ events.
  • Improved support for generating sentences in narrative reports.
  • You can now add source citations for parent-child relationships (birth or adoptive), as well as spouse relationships.
  • Tool to automatically find, and fix links to, missing pictures and other media files.
  • A new tool that can automatically take and store daily snapshots of your entire data file, so that you can easily revert to an earlier version if you need to (this is in addition to full multi-level undo/redo within each session). By default, only the 8 most recent snapshots are kept, to ensure that space taken by snapshots never becomes excessive.
  • Improved compatibility with companion products, including the option to save Family Historian data files in the popular UTF-8 format.
  • And much more…

How to Upgrade to 6.1

All version 6.0 users are recommended to upgrade to 6.1. To do so, click Check for Updates on the Help menu, when running Family Historian, and follow the instructions. Alternatively, the upgrade can be downloaded from

To Learn More…

For an overview of the program, why not take the tour – at

Family Historian has won numerous awards and accolades from reviewers – see to learn more.

Purchase Information

Version 6.1 is free for version 6 users only. Version 6 is available for purchase as a download or boxed. There are also lower-priced upgrade options for version 5 and version 4 users. Please see for purchase options.


Can anyone elaborate on this claim and whether it is relevant to the present discussion about loss of extras when downloading/uploading gedcoms and/or switching between programs? It’s beyond on my present level of understanding.:
“A new feature called Smart GEDCOM Loading has been added, which delivers big improvements in GEDCOM imports – especially from Family Tree Maker and Ancestry GEDCOM files. The same feature can even be used to recover hidden data in existing Family Historian projects that were previously created by imports from Family Tree Maker or Ancestry.”


    Yes it is relevant. Lots of programs put stuff in the wrong place in the GEDCOM files that they produce. If the recipient program just looks in the “correct” place for the data (correct according to the GEDCOM standard) then it won’t find it. The new features appear (and I’ve got no test files to check this) to look in “incorrect” places for the data. Naturally, the software can’t look just anywhere but what’s been done is a lot of work on checking just where FTM and Ancestry put the (incorrect) data, and FH will look in those places. So, FH will look in the correct places and it will also look in those places where FTM and Ancestry are known to put data incorrectly.
    A lot of this has already been done for FH by plug-ins written by members of the FH User Group – sounds like the logic has been subsumed into the main program.
    The “hidden data” seems like a reference to the fact that if FH loads a GEDCOM that contains incorrect data, it doesn’t discard it, but leaves it there, in the loaded data – FH’s file format is GEDCOM, so it can do this. Because the data is incorrect, it can’t be recognised so is effectively hidden. The new features will look in the (known) incorrect places on either a new GEDCOM or one that’s been used for ages, find the data and put it in the correct place.


    Thank you too for this excellent explanation!


It’s been an interesting couple of months since Ancestry said it was dropping Family Tree Maker and it looks to me as if that gave the stagnant PC based family tree program market a shot in the arm. Here we are with another software company announcing that it has listened to users, given them what they were asking for and has made it easy to migrate from Family Tree Maker.

How many of us will? Has FTM totally lost our trust even under new management? Will we keep our trees in the cloud instead of on our pcs? Or will we do a bit of both as most of us probably do at the moment keeping the control over our research results that we prefer.

Since genealogy went digital we have been on a voyage of discovery with a great many setbacks along the way as the software we relied on became obsolete. The change by family history societies to publishing on CDs from paper and microfiche meant easier access as long as the programs ran on your operating system. Now Windows 10 has come along to make most of it useless again. Is it all about grabbing as much of our money as they can? Have we connived at the takeover of genealogy by those seeking profit who only respond to users when they see money in it? Or were we innocent dupes who only saw the carrots in front of us and not the stick?


Hi Nate

Are you familiar with GEDCOM files? For the benefit of anyone reading this who isn’t, GEDCOM files are a means of transferring genealogy data from one genealogy program to another. You can export your data from Family Tree Maker as a GEDCOM file, then import it into Family Historian.

“Smart GEDCOM Loading” is what we call a new feature (a new technology really) that is now built into Family Historian. What it means in practice is that Family Historian does a much better job than previously of loading GEDCOM files created by other applications. It does so by looking not just at each GEDCOM file in isolation, but by making use of previously researched knowledge about the program that generated it. In particular it looks at three things: the mistakes that the program makes when generating GEDCOM files, undocumented extensions to the GEDCOM spec that the program uses (its own undocumented additions to the spec, effectively), and thirdly, the choices that the program makes about how it organises its data within GEDCOM files (compared to how this data was originally organised within the program). By making use of all this knowledge, Family Historian can do a much better job. It doesn’t just load what is in the GEDCOM file. It actually does the best it can to reconstruct the data within Family Historian, in a way that closely matches how it was originally used.

The part that was probably most confusing was the bit about “recovering hidden data”. Previously, if Family Historian encountered fields in a GEDCOM file that were another application’s extensions to GEDCOM, it would have loaded them, but as they were undocumented, it wouldn’t have known what this data was. For example, a person’s funeral date might be stored in an undocumented way that meant that FH did not know what it was. If that happened FH simply stored the data for that person, in a special field called an ‘Uncategorised Data Field’ (UDF). These fields can be accessed from within the program, but you have to drill-down a bit to find them. Which is why we called them ‘hidden’ fields. Think of a UDF like a locker in a lost property office. Only instead of not knowing whose property it is, you don’t know what it is. The good thing about a UDF was that the data wasn’t simply lost. But until someone worked out what to do with it, it wasn’t very useful either. Now, thanks to Smart GEDCOM Loading, much of this UDF data can be automatically converted to meaningful data, and made use of, in reports and elsewhere, like any other item of data. So, in our example, now you can see the person’s funeral date, labelled as such, exactly as you would expect. If you have an FH project which you think might contain hidden data that can be recovered, run FH6.1, open your project and click on ‘Recover Uncategorised Data’. It’s on the Tools menu, under ‘Uncategorised Data’. If no data can be found to be recovered, it will tell you that.

But you don’t need to know how Smart GEDCOM Loading works. The important point is that you should expect much better results if you import a GEDCOM file into Family Historian – especially one created by Family Tree Maker or Ancestry.


I am/was a TMG user and have been trying almost all the popular programs trying to find a new home for my work. This new version of Family Historian has done the best job of bringing in all the info in my files and putting it in the correct places of any I have tried so far with one exception……….all of my sources are here and listed in the source file but they are not attached to the individual items. I did not use a GEDCOM file because I have had so much trouble with it on the other softwares I have tried. I did a direct import from my TMG project file. Now I just have to figure out how to attach all my sources again. I have a very BIG file.


That sounds odd. I’m guessing that your version of TMG can’t be the latest one because what you’re describing doesn’t happen with version 9. FH is supposed to support all versions of TMG but testing every single version is hard, so it’s possible that a bug may have slipped through for your version. If you have access to a more recent version of TMG, I would recommend upgrading to that, and then try the import again. Alternatively, you could send a copy of your database to Family Historian support (see the website) and they could investigate it for you.


In that case, something must have gone wrong with the import of your database. The best thing would be to contact FH support, and ideally send them a copy of your database to look at.


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