What are Gedcom files?
They are a standard way of swapping family tree information. They are readable text but in a structured format. Gedcom files are similar in concept to HTML files. This web page uses text files formatted to HTML standards to get the information on your screen in the desired format. Family history records sent using the Gedcom format can be read and “understood” by at least 95% of the family tree software published.
Why should I use Gedcom files?
If you have a computer you could keep your family tree information in, say, a document created on a word processor. But this means your PC is only acting as a typewriter - not much gain over simply writing it on a piece of paper. Even the most basic PC can provide you with a much more productive solution - by using specialised family tree software.
And if you get serious about swapping information with other researchers then you should really have some way of reading and writing Gedcom files. Swapping information any other way means that information has to be re-keyed - acceptable for small changes but impractical for even modest family trees. The Gedcom file format makes it all much simpler - and enables you to download data from online sources such as the IGI or family history CDs.
What will I need to buy to handle Gedcom files?
Nothing - all that you need is free on the Internet; if not in your existing family tree software. Not only does FamilySearch provide free access data but they also provide free software. You can download a copy of Personal Ancestral File (PAF) in exchange for registering with them. Once installed the PAF software will read Gedcom files of any size and provide you with a free database system designed solely for recording family trees.
With the PAF software (and most other family tree software) you can keep separate databases for different categories data. In my case, for example, I have one for all the personal ancestors research, one for “notable families” and one for holding entries obtained from web downloads.
What is available for the Brotherton families?
An initial Gedcom file has been created covering many of the Brotherton families - and everyone else that they link to. This is NOT a complete file of all the names recorded here - partly because it only covers a limited number of generations. But it does include 7,202 individuals in total - so it is a good start. If the family you are looking for is not in the Gedcom at this stage please use the web pages or wait until a complete file can be made available.
The Version 1 Gedcom file has been compressed into a ZIP file (Brotherton1.zip). Version 1 is as at 21-Jul-2006 and can downloaded here >>>