At IGHS, our goals include collecting an on-line searchable database that is free to users. The database includes original transcriptions of information as well as individuals collections of family trees, in addition to a list of Irish history and genealogy related internet links.  The expenses to maintain this website and database are paid through the non-profit which receives tax-deductible donations from people. There are no membership dues or user fees.


People give us a copy of their GEDCOMs containing Irish genealogy so that we can create a large searchable database.  The individual trees are kept separate on the website, yet the powerful search engine can search them collectively or individually.  Once uploaded, no access to change the data is available. Only information about deceased persons is displayed, even if we receive GEDCOMs with details about living individuals.  The TNG software is sophisticated enough to only display information on the deceased persons. We ask submitters to include their entire Irish lines in the GEDCOMs, so that IGHS will have the information on the trees including the living people. This will help us verify who the trees belong to from an administrative point of view. In addition, by submitting your GEDCOM to IGHS we will be creating an off site storage backup of your family history data for you. We can easily return a copy of your GEDCOM to you at any time.


We do not need your entire database, unless it is all Irish descent. One submitter has over 80K individuals in her genealogy database, so she sent us just the families and their descendants that have an Irish connection.  How best to do this - Using Legacy as a software, go to the oldest ancestor who was either born, died or married in Ireland for a specific line and custom tag all their descendants using one of the 9 tags available in the software. Then create a Gedcom of all those tagged with that tag number.  When you create your gedcom and have decided to include information on living persons, please do not select the suppress details for the Living or replace name with LIVING options.  We can choose these options in the TNG software and it will be more efficient to have the full details in the gedcoms when we are checking them for errors before posting on our website.


Submitting your genealogy is easy


First, if you have information about living persons in your genealogy, seek to obtain their permission before submitting the data. Notes and sources attached to an entry for a deceased person may have data about a living person. For Privacy reasons, you must remove any information about living persons if you do not have their permission to publish it.


Second, review your data, particularly your notes and sources. Be sure you do not have any offensive or inappropriate statements about another person. It will also help others with their research if your data is as complete as possible. Review data standards that have been developed.

A good resource is Mary Slawsons book "Getting It Right". This book has specific examples of how to keep track of names and places and titles. On page 24 of Marys book you see how to enter the nicknames for Irish names.  For example William Thomas "Willie Tom Mary Willie" in the given name and Doherty in the surname.

Locations are listed from smallest jurisdiction to biggest.  So you could have Ballygorman, Malin Head, County Donegal, Ireland

as one location. St. Marys, Lagg Chapel, Malin Head, County Donegal, Ireland as another.


Third, Save your genealogy in a GEDCOM file format on your personal computer. Many genealogy software programs provide the capability to save your records in a GEDCOM file format. The file is named with a .ged extension.


Fourth, Attach your GEDCOM to an e-mail and send it to


We will check and preserve your records


First, your submitted GEDCOM will be checked for file format errors. If errors are found you will be notified by e-mail that your file could not be used. You will have the opportunity to correct any errors and then re-submit your GEDCOM file.


Second, we will upload your GEDCOM to the IGHS research website and then your data on the deceased persons in your GEDCOM will be available on our searchable list. If at any time you want to send us in a new file, be sure to use the same e-mail address or notify us by e-mail what your previous e-mail address was, so that we can replace the correct file.



If you have any questions, please contact us at

We appreciate your interest and your support.




The following document about GEDCOMs was kindly donated to us by Mike "Doc" Dougherty. It is very well written and has great information.


GEDCOM Primer or (GEDCOM 101)

By Mike "Doc" Dougherty



GEDCOM is a standard file format for exchanging information between genealogy programs. The acronym GEDCOM stands for GEnealogical Data COMmunications. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) developed the GEDCOM standard.


First, it is a good idea to "Privatize" your information before posting it. Part of the reward of genealogy is the exchange of information with other hobbyists and professionals, as well as your own family members. While sharing information is the key to expanding your family tree, it also brings up the question of how to protect the privacy of living family members. Maybe your Family File includes some personal information you would rather not share with people outside the family, or perhaps you would like to omit addresses and phone numbers.


Here are some notes for Legacy, Family Tree Maker, and Brothers Keeper about how to privatize, import and export GEDCOM files.





Private Notes

Legacy has the ability to mark portions of your notes as Private. When you are editing notes you can add two opening brackets [[to start the marking of private notes that you do not want to be printed, or exported. At the end of the private notes you add two closing brackets]] and everything following the closing brackets becomes public notes again. You can also just use the two opening brackets [[and everything to the end of the note becomes private if there are no closing brackets. Legacy has the option to print and export private notes. By default, Legacy always turns off private notes and you will have to turn them back on each time you export or print a report. This feature is part of all note fields including general notes, medical notes, research notes, marriage notes, event notes, picture notes, source description, and comments.


To import a GEDCOM file into Legacy:

  1. Choose Import From / GEDCOM File from the File menu. The File dialog box opens where you then select the GEDCOM file you want to import.
  2. After selecting the file, Legacy displays the Import a GEDCOM File window. If you want to add the information from the GEDCOM file to your existing family file, select the Add the GEDCOM information to the EXISTING Family File option. If you want to create a new family file to contain the GEDCOM information, select the Create a NEW Family File and add the GEDCOM information to it (recommended) option. Then click Proceed.
  3. If you are adding to your existing family file, Legacy prompts you to make a backup copy of it before the import is done. This is a wise practice and is recommended. If you are creating a new family file, you are prompted for a new filename.
  4. Legacy analyzes the GEDCOM file to make sure it is valid and recognizable. This analysis pass also shows you how many individuals and families are contained in the file. If Legacy finds information that it does not know what to do with, a message is displayed. You can then tell Legacy where to put the information.
  5. After the analysis phase, click Start the Import. Legacy reads the information from the GEDCOM file and places it in the appropriate family file. Anything that is not recognized is placed in an error file so you can see it and decide what to do.
  6. Record Numbering:
    Most GEDCOM files are encoded with the record identification numbers (RINs) that were used in the exporting program that created them. Often users come to identify particular individuals within their files as much with this number as with their names. If you are importing into a new, empty family file, these numbers can be kept. As an alternative, you can have the incoming records renumbered. If renumbering, you can select the beginning number. As an example let's say you have 2,582 individuals in your current family file and are about to import a new batch. You might want to start numbering the new individuals at 3000, later making it easy to see which people were imported. Of course, if you select a starting number that is already being used in the current file, Legacy will have to jump up to a number higher than the current batch.
  7. Import Filters
    1. Put Unrecognized Items into Notes
    2. This option puts any unrecognized information into the Notes of the individual being read at the time. For example, a line such as "OCCUP Bricklayer" would be put into the Notes because OCCUP it is not a standard GEDCOM tag. (You can also re-map unrecognized tags to standard tags before you start the import.)
    3. Re-wordwrap the Contents of All Notes Fields
    4. If the notes you are importing have hard carriage returns at the end of each line, such as notes from PAF 2.31 (or PAF 3.0 notes imported from PAF 2.31), you can have them reformatted into continuous lines by choosing this option. Paragraphs breaks formed by two consecutive carriage returns are left alone.
    5. Check for Valid Date Formats during this import
    6. Legacy uses consistent, logical formatting rules when it comes to dates. Other programs allow free-form dates that can include unrelated text, making the dates unusable for sorting and date arithmetic. During the import process, Legacy checks each date for a proper format and presents any unrecognized dates for you to correct or accept. If you would like to accept all dates, regardless of their format, uncheck this option. (Using the search engine in Legacy, you can produce a list showing the names and record numbers of all individuals who have unrecognized dates. This list lets you quickly jump to each individual and make corrections later.)
    7. Format Names and Places
    8. Formats all incoming names and places to the format currently set in the Preferences section. These formatting options include putting initial capital letters on given names, putting initial caps or upper casing on surnames, and formatting location names so there is a space after each comma.
    9. The AutoSource feature of Legacy lets you automatically assign a master source to each incoming individual when you are doing an import. This is often very useful as documentation of where you received the information and is much easier to do and use than making an entry in the Note field.
  8. AutoSource Reminder
    1. If you forget to set an AutoSource when importing a file, Legacy asks if you would like to do so. (This can be turned off.) When the AutoSource Reminder window opens:

Click Select a Master Source to display the Master Source List where you can select a source to cite (or you can Add a new source and then cite it), or click Do not Assign a Source to tell Legacy to skip the source assignment during this import.

  1. You can also suppress certain information while importing a GEDCOM file. For example, if you are not interested in address information, you can simply skip it during the import process. To customize the import information click Customize. (See GEDCOM Items to Import..)
  2. Weird GEDCOM files that do not read correctly
    1. Occasionally, but not very often, you may run into a GEDCOM file that does not seem to read in properly. This can happen if the file contains non-standard line breaks or embedded end-of-file characters in the middle of the text. (Normal text lines end with a carriage return/linefeed combination, but sometimes a program will only put out a linefeed character.) Legacy most often finds these characters by looking at a chunk of the beginning and end of the GEDCOM file and therefore switches into a special binary reading mode to manually handle them. Sometimes the non-standard characters do not occur until the middle of the file after Legacy has already committed to reading it normally.


To export a GEDCOM file from Legacy:

1.      Click Export To / GEDCOM File from the File menu. (Or press Ctrl-E)

2.      Select the type of GEDCOM file to produce.

3.      Check the boxes corresponding to the records you want to include in the file.

4.      Click Compiler... to make sure the information about you, the compiler or creator of the GEDCOM file, is correct.

5.      If you want to change the default list of field information that to be included in the GEDCOM file, click Customize.

6.      When you have made all the desired settings, click Select File Name and START EXPORT.

7.      From the Export GEDCOM File dialog box, type in the name of the file you want to create. This can be any name up to eight characters. Often, an appropriate surname or abbreviation makes a good filename.



Family Tree Maker:



Family Tree Maker allows you to assure the privacy of others (as well as your own) by designating certain facts as private. This prevents this information from being imported/exported, printed, copied, or published on the Internet.

To use the privatization feature:


  1. From the File menu, select Privatize File. Family Tree Maker displays the Privatize File dialog box.
  2. Select Yes if you want Family Tree Maker to hide the Birth, Death, Marriage, More About Facts, Medical, and Notes information for living relatives
  3. Family Tree Maker displays a progress meter while it privatizes your Family File. It hides all data fields for living individuals and marks them with the word "private." Only relationships between living individuals will be retained. As an added indication that you have selected to display privatized text, Family Tree Maker also changes the background color of the Family Page to green. Once selected as a preference, privatized text is enforced whenever you copy/export, print, or publish your Family File.


Note: When privatized, your file will become "read-only." This means you cannot modify the file in any way until you leave this mode. You can deselect the Privatized mode at any time in the original Family File by returning to the Preferences dialog box.


To open (import) a GEDCOM file in Family Tree Maker:

1.                  From the File menu, select Open Family File (ALT, F, O).

2.                  Click the Files of type drop-down list and then select GEDCOM (*.GED).

3.                  In the Look in lists, select the drive and folder where the file you want to open is located and then select the file name. If you are unsure where your file is, click Find file and follow the instructions in Finding files.

4.                  Click Open.

Family Tree Maker displays the New Family File dialog box.


5.                  In the Save in lists, select the drive and folder where you installed Family Tree Maker. (usually C:\FTW).

6.                  In the New Family File dialog box, give the GEDCOM file a new name so that Family Tree Maker can make a copy of it and convert the copy to a Family Tree Maker for Windows file. You can either click Save to accept the name that Family Tree Maker suggests or type a new name and then click Save. The file name must have the extension .FTW. Family Tree Maker reloads your file as a Family Tree Maker for Windows file and then displays the Import from GEDCOM dialog box.

7.                  Some programs format information slightly differently than Family Tree Maker. Using the options below, you can reformat your information.

a.       Location Family Tree Maker will allow up to 256 characters in this field. You may select either the Keep first part if location fields are too long, or, Keep last part if location fields are too long options if you are importing from a file format that allows more than 256 characters.

b.      Options Some programs (like PAF) add an underscore between compound names (for example, St._Germaine). Check Delete underscore from names to replace the underscore with a space. Some programs also don't put spaces between the city, county, and state in location fields. Check Add spacing in location fields to add the normal space between these words (if necessary).

c.       Facts to Import Choose this to display the Facts to Import dialog box. The list on the left contains the Family Tree Maker fact names available to be imported. The list on the right shows what those facts will be called after they are imported. After selecting a fact, use the appropriate options to Change a Fact, Create a New Fact, or Do not Import the fact at all.

1.                  Click OK again to create the Family File.


Note: If any errors were generated as your Family File was created, Family Tree Maker asks you if you want to see an error report. If you choose to look at the error report immediately, Family Tree Maker will display it. If you want to look at it later, you can open it in a word processor such as Notepad or MS Word. The file will be in the same folder and have the same name as the Family File you just created, except with the extension .LST.


To export your Family File to GEDCOM:


1.                  From the File menu, select Copy/Export Family File (ALT, F, C).

2.                  Click the Save as type drop-down list and select GEDCOM (*.GED).

3.                  In the File name field, type a name for the GEDCOM file. It must have the extension .GED.

4.                  In the Save in fields, select the drive and folder where you want to place your file.

5.                  Click Save.


Family Tree Maker displays the Export to GEDCOM dialog box.


6.                  Make the appropriate File Type selections as described below:


a.       Destination Use this to allow Family Tree Maker to check for special requirements of the program that will use the GEDCOM file. Select FTW to create Family Tree Maker for Windows

b.      When you choose a Destination, Family Tree Maker automatically chooses GEDCOM and Character set options. However, if Family Tree Maker's suggestions are incorrect for your purposes, make your own selections.

c.       Whenever possible, choose Version 5.5 in the "GEDCOM" field; it offers the best export format. If you do not know which file type to use, choose Version 4.

d.      Indent records Check this to make the file more readable in a word processor. Some programs cannot read indented records, in which case this setting will be ignored.


e.       Abbreviated tags Check this to use abbreviations for the GEDCOM tags, instead of full names.


7.                  Click OK. Family Tree Maker creates the GEDCOM file.




Brothers Keeper:


To import a GEDCOM file, pick File from the menu on the main screen and then pick Gedcom, Import. Always do a new backup of your BK files before importing a GEDCOM file.

The BK gedcom import routine will add everyone in a gedcom file to the BK data files in your current open folder and it does not look for duplications.

  1. The next step in importing is to run the Import GEDCOM routine so that the data can be changed into BK format. Pick File, then Gedcom, Import from the main screen. If there is already data in a Brother's Keeper file there, then it will show you how many names are in the existing file. The new data will be added to any existing data. The program will not check for duplicates - all the data will be added as new additional data.

  1. It will then ask for the name of the GEDCOM file to read. Select the correct drive, folder, and file name for the file to read.


  1. When finished importing, you can use the quality check routine to be sure all the links between people are correct. You can then use Brother's Keeper to look at the file, and print all the reports.

If the gedcom file you are reading contains long NOTE lines, you might see an option on the screen to "add a space between CONC lines". If you see that option, read this: If a message or note is too long for a gedcom line (over 250 characters long) then it uses a CONC tag meaning Concatination. Two or more lines are stuck together during the import to make a long line. The gedcom rules say to split a word in the middle of the word and not at a space when doing that. However, the FTM program splits the line at a space. So when importing a FTM gedcom file, you should pick the option to add the space. But for other gedcom files, do not add the space.



To Export a GEDCOM file:

  1. To create a GEDCOM file, pick File from the main screen menu and then pick Gedcom, Export. Note: when you create a GEDCOM file, you now have a choice of either exporting all the names in your file, or selecting which names to export. If you want to transfer only part of your file, then you will be taken to a routine just like the split database routine.
  2. The export routine will ask for the name of the GEDCOM file you want to create. Type the name for the file followed by .GED.
  3. If you are making a GEDCOM file that will be placed on the Internet, be sure to set the option to Exclude data for living people.