How do I list two places in an emigration?

Use paired immigration/emigration events:

2 PLAC Nice, Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
3 FORM City, Arrondissement, Department, Provence, Country
2 DATE 3 MAR 1903
2 PLAC Manhattan, New York,  New York, USA
3 FORM Borough, City, State, Country
2 DATE 8 MAR 1903

How do I record a stillborn child?

Use a PHRASE under the AGE at death:

2 AGE 0d
3 PHRASE Stillborn

How do I record a miscarriage?

For researchers who want to include a miscarriage as a child in a family, we recommend a non-pointer CHIL if no details are known:

2 PHRASE Miscarried after 6 months

If there is more to say about the child, we recommend an INDI with NO BIRT:

0 @EX1@ INDI
1 NAME Roman /Hernandez/
2 PHRASE Miscarried after 6 months

For researchers who want to record a miscarriage, but do not want to include the child in a family, we recommend a family event:

0 @F1@ FAM
1 WIFE @I1@
1 HUSB @I2@
2 TYPE Miscarriage
2 DATE 13 JUN 1948

How do I record the calendar that an age applies to?

When a person has events recorded in the contexts of multiple calendars within their lifetime, such as JULIAN and GREGORIAN, or FRENCH_R and GREGORIAN, their age may have been be calculated (and recorded) differently depending on the calendar.

Dates in GEDCOM can have a calendar in the payload, but ages cannot, leading to the question of how gedcom can store the calendar associated with an age.

One intent of the AGE structure is to express the age as it was listed in some source document. When a DATE and an AGE are associated with the same event, applications reading the GEDCOM file can infer that the calendar of the AGE is the same as the calendar of the DATE, especially if a SOURCE_CITATION is provided for the event.

If a source document listed an age without a date, but a user or application has a way to calculate an estimated date based on the age and calendar used by the source document, then the calendar can be stored with a calculated date:

0 @I1@ INDI
2 AGE 1m 2d

In the following example, it is important to record the calendar associated with the age since the actual date would vary:

0 @I2 INDI
1 NOTE The following two birthdates refer to the same day, in different calendars.
1 NOTE If christening was recorded as "1m 10d", the date is different per calendar.
2 CONT "1m 10d" in Gregorian would be GREGORIAN 2 NOV 1793 or FRENCH_R 12 BRUM 2.
2 CONT "1m 10d" in French Republican would be GREGORIAN 1 NOV 1793 or FRENCH_R 11 BRUM 2.
2 AGE 1m 10d

Why can an attribute have an age?

One case is when the attribute has a clear start time; for example, educational degrees tend to be awarded at a measurable time:

1 EDUC Ph.D. in Computer Science
2 AGE 26y

Another case is when an attribute was expected to be temporary and observed at a particular time; for example, physical descriptions tend to be temporary:

1 DESC Mostly bald with bushy mustachios
2 AGE 38y

When birth date and date range of attribute are both known, DATE is generally better than AGE, but sometimes sources contain claims like “I earned my degree when I was 15” without clear dates, hence the provision of AGE for attributes.

How do I record illegitimate children?

This is one of many relationship situations with many possible technical complications, the best solutions to which are being discussed for possible revision in subsequent versions of FamilySearch GECDOM.

At present, the best available tool is INDI.FAMC.PEDI, one for each family:

0 @I1@ INDI
1 FAMC @F1@
3 PHRASE Illegitimate child
1 FAMC @F2@
3 PHRASE Born into this family, but not the father's own

Because the nature of BIRTH is unclear (is it about the biological progenitors of the child or the social family unit into which it is born?) and a topic some researchers have strong feelings about, either or both of the above may be recorded PEDI OTHER instead of PEDI BIRTH by some researchers.

How do I provide a source citation for a parent-child relationship?

Neither the FAMC structure of an individual record nor the CHIL structure of a family record supports having a SOUR citation as a substructure. Today applications often put the SOUR directly under the individual record or the family record, where it lacks specificity in terms of which family or individual it applies to.

If the source applies to a birth or adoption, specificity can be maintained by placing the SOUR citation under an INDI.BIRT or INDI.ADOP, as in the following example:

0 @I1@ INDI
2 SOUR @S2@
2 FAMC @F3@

How do I mark a parent-child relationship as confidential?

The standard RESN tag is used to mark data confidential but it is not a substructure under the FAM.FAMC or FAM.CHIL tags. You can implement a custom extension tag, perhaps _RESN, and add a SCHMA entry to indicate the extension has the same meaning as RESN:

0 @I2@ INDI
1 FAMC @F3@
0 @F3@ FAM
1 CHIL @I2@

Note that with all confidential communications, it is important not only to mark the data as confidential but also to ensure that the recipient of the data understands in what cases they are to remove the confidential data and agrees to do so. _RESN communicates the confidential nature, but does not enforce the desired behavior.

How do I choose LANG payloads?

If you know the GEDCOM 5.5.1 language name, FHISO has a look-up table. You can also look at the lists embedded in the reference 5.5.1-to-7.0 converter program.

If you know the language you want, r12a has a very flexible search function.

You can also look through the IANA registry manually and assemble the appropriate tags as outlined in BCP 47, though that’s something of an expert-mode approach.

How do I record the sex of an intersex person?

The enumerated value on the SEX tag in GEDCOM 7.0 was amended to include “X” to describe intersex individuals:

0 @I1@ INDI

Birth records in some jurisdictions use intersex as the sex value for a child who does not conform to the traditional biological definitions of male or female at birth.

The SEX tag is only for anatomical or biological sex at birth. For any related concept that might change and/or manifest later in life, an individual attribute should be used instead.

How do I record polygamous families?

A FAM record should be used for each couple procreating or rearing offspring. This may result in many FAM records for one social family unit.

A FAM record may also be used to represent the social family unit. If it is desirable that all the spouses appear structurally equal, they may be linked using ASSO pointers with ROLE SPOU instead of HUSB and WIFE pointers.

Some applications may have more complete handling of HUSB and WIFE than they have for ASSO.

How do I record a date without a year?

All dates in the DateValue datatype must have a year. Thus, you cannot use yearless dates as DateValues.

However, you can add any date information as a PHRASE:

3 PHRASE March 3rd (year unknown)

You might also consider bounding the year if possible:

2 DATE BET 1820 AND 1840
3 PHRASE March 3rd (year unknown)

How do I link to individual structures within a FamilySearch GEDCOM file?

Inside a GEDCOM file, pointers do this using the cross-reference identifiers. However, cross-reference identifiers are not durable across import-export cycles and should not be used outside of a GEDCOM file.

If you wish to reference a part of a FamilySearch GEDCOM file from outside that file, you should use one of the durable identifier structures: UID, REFN, or EXID. There is currently no standard way to do this, so any implementation will need to decide how the links will be navigated.

How do I flag a primary or profile photo?

There is no standard tag for this purpose in version 7.0. The first MULTIMEDIA_LINK in a structure is the “most-preferred” external object, but that does not necessarily mean it is either an image or a profile image.

As noted in the specification,

The order of substructures of a single type indicates user preference, with the first substructure being the most-preferred value, unless a different meaning is explicitly indicated in the structure’s definition.

The only “different meaning” in the current draft is for FAM.CHIL, where the specification says

The order of the CHIL (children) pointers within a FAM (family) structure should be chronological by birth; this is an exception to the usual “most preferred value first” rule.

How do I record nicknames?

Use the NICK part type under the PERSONAL_NAME_STRUCTURE:

1 NAME Bill /Miller/
2 NICK Bill
2 SURN Miller

The name type AKA can also be used to indicate that a NAME structure is not the primary name.

1 NAME William /Miller/
2 GIVN William
2 SURN Miller
1 NAME Bill /Miller/
2 NICK Bill
2 SURN Miller

It is also possible to presented the nickname inline with the other name parts:

1 NAME William "Bill" /Miller/
2 GIVN William
2 NICK Bill
2 SURN Miller

How do I record a preferred name among given names?

In many customs a person is given a series of given names, where one of them (often not the first one) is the name the individual will commonly be known by.

For example, the Wikipedia entry for German name explains:

It is common to give a child several given names, one of them intended for everyday use and known as the “Rufname” (“appellation name” or “call name”). This Rufname is often underlined on official documents, as it is sometimes the second or third name in the sequence of given names on official record, even though it is the given name in daily use from childhood.

FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0 and earlier GEDCOM versions including 5.5.1 do not explicitly define a standard way to denote this concept, and so a variety of mechanisms have been used by implementations over time. For example, for the name “Amalie Emmy Noether”, some implementations might use an extension tag such as _RUFNAME:

1 NAME Amalie Emmy /Noether/
2 GIVN Amalie Emmy
2 SURN Noether

Such extensions can, however, result in loss of data since they are not standardized and so can be dropped by other implementations. A more interoperable form using only standard tags is:

1 NAME Emmy /Noether/
2 GIVN Emmy
2 SURN Noether
1 NAME Amalie Emmy /Noether/
2 TYPE birth
2 GIVN Amalie Emmy
2 SURN Noether

The above example denotes that the second form is the actual birth name, but the first form was also used by the person. Although the specification does not define any semantics to the order among NAME structures, some implementations are known to infer that the first NAME occuring is a “preferred” one to use for display.

How do I reference local files?

A MULTIMEDIA_RECORD uses FILE and TRAN structures to reference one or more files, which might be files on a local filesystem, or might be remote files referenced by URL. FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0 permits local files to be referenced in multiple ways, including:

  • A file: URL with absolute path. Example: FILE file:///path/to/file
  • A relative path with no URI scheme. Example: FILE path/to/file

Local file: URLs are not permitted in FamilySearch GEDZIP but are permitted in FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0 although they should be avoided in datasets that are expected to be shared on the web or with unknown parties.

Relative paths, however, are permitted in both GEDCOM and GEDZIP files and so may be more convenient to use in both cases. Any tool that converts FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0 to GEDZIP should convert local file URLs to relative paths within the resulting GEDZIP file.