Software Review
Family Forest Odyssey Edition
by Sandy Berger
www.aarp.org

This program is appropriately named Odyssey for it is a long series of wanderings, filled with notable experiences. Family Forest Odyssey Edition allows the user to wander through 2,000 years of history and endless genealogy information.

The Family Forest Odyssey suggests that genealogists and family historians move beyond the concept of just a family tree. Thinking should be done in terms of Family Forests where the forest serves as the natural setting in which family trees actually grow. Roots and branches from a forest full of trees spread in whatever direction and however far the data leads. In this software program, the data leads across oceans, across continents, and across centuries.

This software offers one of the world's most interconnected digital collections of ancestral history. Its uniqueness is that it digitally connects the dots of recorded history through people and their ancestry. The program takes a people-centered approach to history - as opposed to date-centered or event-centered. Previously, history and genealogy have been treated as two separate and independent subjects. This software has merged and seamlessly combined disconnected bits and pieces of information, converting static and detached information into dynamic and connected knowledge.

Using the point and click tools, one can explore up and down family charts for fifty or more generations spanning 2,000 years of American and European history. The software uses a CD-ROM and search and display tools. A ten-minute introductory tour with an easy-to-follow set of instruction will guide you through various persons in the database.

The Family Explorer, the software that lets you browse the contents of the database, is very intuitive and will let you view descendants and ancestors of every person in the database. A variety of charts are offered including a new hourglass chart. The database does not contain every person or family but has a massive amount of information pertaining to the history and genealogy of famous and not-so-famous people.

The lineage-linked database contains thousands of people showing their connections with each other and with the history they created. One interesting exercise was to discover how many US presidents were related to each other.

The software also allows you to enter a key word like Ticonderoga to find every person in any way related to that word. You can jump to any point along a historical path through hundreds of fascinating historical and genealogical keywords and family surnames.

When you think how many ancestors each of us have, you probably want to check out this program. Just think, going back only eight generations would give us 256 different great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents.

I especially liked the unique and interesting view of genealogy that this program takes. Teaching ourselves and our children to look at things differently can be an extremely mind-broadening experience. So professional genealogists, writers and journalists, librarians, teachers and students, family historians, and parents and grandparents may find this $49 software program a good investment as well as a fun bit of wandering through history.

Sandy Berger

 
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~ The website FamilyForest.com has been on the web since March 1996 ~

Family Forest® is a registered trademark of MPC, Inc.
Copyright ©2001, Millisecond Publishing Company. All rights reserved.