Friday, July 5, 2013

GenSmarts--A Summary of Capabilities

A Summary of GenSmarts Capabilities

On July 2, 2013 I mentioned that I had recently recognized that I hadn't used GenSmarts for a long time and no longer had it on my computer.  I subsequently did a little more research and was pleasantly surprised to learn that their subscription has no time limitations, thus; I could reload it, update to the latest version and begin using again.  The program works with most of the major genealogy software programs, including Family Tree Maker (FTM), which I use.  As I mentioned in my July 2 blog, GenSmarts is basically an artificial intelligence system that scans all of the data for those in your data base and suggests searches you should make for missing data.  It lists the specific piece of information (such as a death date) and then suggests where you might find that information (Social Security Death Index).

When I had it search my FTM program of 8304 persons, it came up with 37,594 suggestions--an overwhelming number.  By default, the suggestions are listed in order of priority--from highest to lowest.  I am not sure what criteria the program uses for establishing priorities and will have to follow up with that information.  There are a number of filters with the program that allow you to narrow your search to provide a more manageable number of responses and to focus on specific ancestors of interest.  When you set up the program you indicate on-line genealogy search sites to which you have a subscription.  You can update this list as you choose when you add or cancel subscriptions.  When I selected GenSmarts to only display the suggestions that were available to me online, the number was reduced to 19, 941, still too many to effectively handle.  When I modified the search to provide only direct ancestors it was further reduced to 990.  One can then modify the list of suggestions such that they are displayed alphabetically by surname. By doing that, you can focus on specific individuals within surnames of interest.  Probably even better, you can select specific individuals, or family lines that you want scanned for suggestions.

Search by Subset of Individuals
Most of us have brick walls and might want to focus first on those people associated with our brick walls.  You can also select filters so as to show only selected suggestions.  The choices are: Suggestions for a person, family, specific library or website, that fill holes, or are available online.

All Suggestions Sorted by Surname
For instance if you were going to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, it would be very helpful to have GenSmarts provide you a list of all the search suggestions whose sources were located in the Family History Library.  I have done this before and it was extremely helpful! My list of locations had 62 websites and geographic locations.  The locations included libraries, archives and historical or genealogical societies.  I noticed that the geographical sites were all in states where I had ancestors, so the list would change from individual to individual depending on where their ancestors resided.  I am sure Allen County Public Library and the Family History Library would be included on everyone's list.

Records Sorted by Source (Family History Library)
GenSmarts offers a free trial, or to purchase it is $24.95.  If you haven't tried it, I think it is definitely worth doing their free trial.  I think it's greatest strength is in providing a second set of eyes looking at our data.  We all suffer from getting so close to our research that we sometimes (often) miss the obvious!  As I mentioned earlier, one of the most helpful features of the program is to run a scan of all, or a selected number, of your ancestors and then print out the list for a specific web site or library.  This is a very effective way of focusing your search efforts.

GenSmarts has a lot more capabilities than I have discussed; but I think I have summarized the more important features of the program. If you have used it or you try the free trial version, I would appreciate your comments--pro and con--on what you think of the program.

Disclaimer:  I have no affiliation with GenSmarts nor do I receive any compensation from them.  My comments are my own opinions.