Reunion: The Real Mac Choice for Serious Genealogists

I find that I have to eat my words.? Not, you understand, that I am not experienced at that feat.? I am after all a parent.

Be honest now.? If you are a parent you remember saying pre-parenthood, "MY child will never have a temper tantrum in public!" or, "MY child will never leave the house looking like that!" or my all time favorite, "MY child will never talk to ME like that!"?

Yep, been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.?

So I am more than humble enough to say that I made a mistake in recommending a software package for genealogy documenting.? The column was written in December 2004, and the software I discussed is called MacFamily Tree made by OnlyMac Software.

The first paragraph of that column said:

Anyone interested in serious genealogy research, or anyone who just wants to create a good family tree, may be interested in checking out an application called MacFamilyTree. This particular application has three things going for it:? It was created for the Mac platform, it is relatively inexpensive, and it is fairly easy for a beginner to use.? It is also available in nine different languages? (English, German, French, Spanish, Norwegian, Dutch Swedish, Dansk, and Italian). After that column was published I received some criticism from readers who thought that there was a better product on the market that worked with Macs.? Some of the criticism was very polite and some of it, from elitist genealogists, was rude and arrogant.?

As is always the case when people are rude and arrogant my response was to give their comments the attention it deserved, which was zero.? I paid attention to the polite comments, but since the price of the software they were suggesting was superior was almost 3 times that of MacFamily Tree I felt that for many people the price could be a deciding factor and readers needed to know what their options were.? I also thought to myself, "Itis just software people - get a grip."

Now we can fast forward to late 2006 and early 2007.? The words I now feel I have to eat are these "Anyone interested in serious genealogy research."

The first thing that happened is that I participated in a couple of classes sponsored by our local Mac Users Group, CapMac, on how to conduct genealogy research.? I only attended the classes because I was responsible for the classes themselves, but I immediately got hooked on the topic and all the information about how I could find out about my ancestors.

The second thing was that with the help of a fellow club member I discovered a lead to my paternal grandparents that opened up a whole dialog with my 89 year old father, helping him recall things he thought he had forgotten.? Before I was through I was able to tell him a few things about his grandfather John Taylor Carroll, the marshal of Randolph County Alabama in the 1890s.

The third thing was that the teacher of our classes strongly recommended a genealogy software package called Reunion 8 (recently upgraded to Reunion 9) made by? Leister Productions, Inc.? Reunion is the same software that readers had recommended back in 2004.

It has a definite learning curve.? It requires what may be for many a serious financial investment of US$99.? However, if one is really serious about doing in-depth family history research it is a financial investment that is worth making.

In the five months that I have worked with Reunion 8, I have discovered that the real value becomes apparent as your family lines become longer.? If your research is like mine, you donit just find out everything about Great-grandmother Sally, put it in a neat box, and then move on to someone else.?

The reality is that you have to keep going back to Sally to verify, double check dates, and add or subtract names or information as you come across new information or confirm spellings.? With Reunion it is very easy to hop back and forth between individuals because of the way they are linked together and if you have more than one person in your family with the same name it helps you keep them straight.

I have to revise my humble recommendation to say that if you want to create a simple family tree for an event and you donit want to spend much money then you should still go with MacFamily Tree.? If you want to go with any serious family history research you will be much happier with Reunion.? The whole organizational structure of the Reunion software makes it easier to accurately record your data when you are creating a significant family chart.? The application includes a good tutorial and there is online and telephone help available as well.

Review Version:? Reunion 8.06

Developer:? Leister Productions, Inc.

PO Box 289
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
Price: $99.00

System Requirements for OS X

Any Power Macintosh, iMac, eMac, or iBook with a CD drive
Mac OS 8.5 or newer.
Mac OS X 10.1.3 or newer.? Reunion 8 will also run on Intel-based Macs under Rosetta.

Product Description:

Reunion helps you to document, store, and display information about your family -- your ancestors, descendants, cousins, etc. It records names, dates, places, facts, plenty of notes, sources of information, pictures, sounds, and videos.

Reunion makes it easy to publish your family tree information -- even if you want to share it on the Web. You can automatically create common genealogy reports, charts, and forms, as well as birthday calendars, mailing lists, questionnaires, indexes, and other lists. Reunion even calculates relationships, ages, life expectancies, and statistics.

Reunion also creates large, high-resolution, graphic charts allowing complete on-screen editing of boxes, lines, fonts, and colors. Wall charts are one of its specialties.