Gramps, Free Genealogy Software

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 22, 2011
Updated • Aug 22, 2011
Software, Windows, Windows software

One of the things that I will do with my mother in the coming months is to write down our family's genealogy. We are both interested in both the research involved and how far back in history we can trace our family tree. For that, I'm currently testing various genealogy software programs to find a suitable candidate for the task. Gramps on first glance offers everything that one would need from a genealogy software.

Gramps has a lot to offer from a technical perspective. The free Open Source application is available as a portable version (from portable apps) and installer. It comes with a plugin system to add more functionality and features to the program. Plugins can be installed at first startup, or from within the program via Help > Plugin Manager.

Addons add importing and exporting capabilities, report generation, various relationship calculators, additional sources and a lot more.

gramps free genealogy software

New users need to create at least one family tree in the beginning before they can start adding family members to that database.

Data like people, relationships, events, places or media are added by first selecting the menu in the left sidebar. New data is then added by right-clicking in the interface and selecting the Add context menu entry or from the main menu bar.

Individuals are best added via the People menu, family connections via the Families menu. You can theoretically add father, mother and children individually via the People menu, or all together via the Families menu.

The program has a lot to offer in terms of data that can be added to individual people. From personal events like birth, death or marriage over data sources and attributes to media objects like photos and associations. Most of the available data fields are completely optional, which is understandable as many information are often not available.

genealogy software family tree

The genealogy software requires some getting used to time which can be mainly attributed to the wealth of data that it can store. Users have so many options that it can be difficulty to keep an overview of everything.

The software can generate different types of reports at any time. This includes a book report, graphical reports or graphs. Views can also be exported as comma separated value files or OpenDocument spreadsheets.

It is possible to create a basic family tree in minutes. This tree would be restricted to names, birth dates and relationships.

Genealogy Software Features

  • People: A list of every individual in your records featuring birth/death dates and more.
  • Relationships: A summary of the active person’s parents, siblings, spouses and children.
  • Relationships: A summary of the active person’s parents, siblings, spouses and children.
  • Ancestry: A graphic representation of the active person’s ancestry featuring photos and birth/death dates
  • Events: A list of every event in your records featuring descriptions, event types, dates and places.
  • Places: A list of every place in your records featuring place names and location details.
  • Geography: An interactive map view highlighting places associated with one person, a group of people or all people in your records.
  • Sources: A list of all sources referenced in your records featuring authors and publication details.
  • Repositories: A list of source repositories referenced in you records featuring web addresses, physical addresses and email contact information.
  • Media: A list of all photos, videos and other media referenced in your records featuring thumbnail preview, media type and more.
  • Notes: A list of all text notes included in your records featuring note type and preview.

Gramps is a very sophisticated genealogical research software. I would suggest to download the program from the portable apps website, as it includes all dependencies (Python) and is fully portable. Users who want to install Gramps from the official website need to make sure that they have Python up and running on their system as the software requires that. Gramps is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux operating systems.


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. Tobias said on August 31, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    I am also thinking of a web service. But more like a wiki. Wiki’s are great for this kind of task. Family members, relationships, places and dates can all be linked together nicely. And, depending on your setup, you get to choose whether it is public or not.

  2. Sheila said on August 23, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    I am trying to install this and am getting errors on the various parts of Python that have to be installed, and several of them include very little information about HOW to install. Or even which file to download if all you want to do is run something that needs Python. I’m baffled!!!!!!!

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 23, 2011 at 6:51 pm

      Sheila, the easier way is to install the Portable Apps version, as it comes with everything included.

  3. Luciano Evaristo Guerche (Gorše) said on August 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Why not use a web based service instead? I am an amateur genealogist and around 2000 I gathered a lot of information using FamilyTreeMaker (paid) and PAF (free). To not loose those information, to make it more broadly available to family members and also let them grow the three by themselves, I uploaded a GEDCOM file to both and

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 23, 2011 at 3:50 pm

      I agree that a web based server has advantages like the ability to “show” and maybe even collaborate with other family members or researchers. Then again, I would not want to publish my family tree or data on the Internet.

  4. Gadgetmy said on August 23, 2011 at 3:35 am

    very unique software…
    I think I need it..

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