Column: What is a GEDCOM?

Between today and Wednesday, my genealogy column, Roots to the Past, is available in the following Atlantic Canada newspapers:

Saturday: The Citizen (Amherst)

Saturday: Times & Transcript (Moncton)

Wednesday: The Lunenburg County Progress Bulletin (Lunenburg County)

Title: What is a GEDCOM?

Snippet: Not long after I ventured onto the Internet, I stumbled upon my first GEDCOM. At first glance, I didn’t know what it was. All I knew was it had a connection to genealogy, but I didn’t take time to learn more. I was busy learning about surfing the web, sending email and deciphering html codes to build my first website.

The six-capital-letter word kept crossing my radar, so eventually I posed the question in Google: what is a GEDCOM? That was more than fifteen years ago and by now, I assumed everyone—at least genealogists—knew what it was, how to create one and their benefits.

Last week, however, I saw a blog comment with someone asking the same question I did. New genealogists—both young and old—don’t start the hobby with full knowledge of what all terms mean, so it’s important to revisit topics that haven’t been discussed in years.

GEDCOM is an acronym for GEnealogical Data COMmunication. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) developed it in 1984 to aid genealogical research. It is a proprietary and open de facto specification for exchanging data between different genealogy programs. To clarify, it is not a communication tool; it’s a file format.

. . . To read more, pick up one of the above noted newspapers.

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