Free Forms on the Internet
Helpful Computer Programs
The programs I use most frequently in my genealogy research are listed below.
Please be advised that there are many alternatives available. You may discover
another program more suitable to your needs.
To read a comparison of genealogical software programs, visit the
Genealogical Software Report Card.
- The Master Genealogist
In my opinion, this is the best genealogy software program currently available, but for
a beginning researcher it may not be the best choice. It's not inexpensive and has a higher
learning curve than many programs. There is a free trial version.
This is a good alternative and the price is right - free. I found it more
user-friendly than other free programs and it has some excellent features.
This software program is great for analyzing and plotting deeds, especially those
hard-to-picture plots described by metes and bounds.
- Paint Shop Pro
This graphics program is both user-friendly and very powerful and it's much less
expensive than most other comparable choices. You may be able to find one of the earlier versions
through eBay or Amazon.com. Long-time users consider versions 6 through 8 better
choices than the current Corel version, though.
The Mysteries of Cousinship
There are many ways to think about and calculate degrees of cousinship and numbers of removals.
This is how I think of it.
All cousins have a common ancestor.
- First, count the generations from each cousin back to the common ancestor. For example, if
you and your cousin have the same grandfather, the number of generations back is two.
- Is the number of generations the same for both cousins?
- Yes. Then subtract one from that number of generations. That is the degree of cousinship, i.e.
"first cousins", "second cousins", etc. There are no removals. If the cousins share a
grandparent, the number of generations back is two; they are first cousins. If the cousins share
a great-grandparent, the number of generations back is three; they are second cousins.
- No. There are extra steps in the calculation, so continue below.
- With different generations between the cousins and the common ancestor, determine which cousin
is closes to that ancestor. For example, if the common ancestor is one cousin's grandfather,
but the other cousin's great-grandfather, the number of generations between is two and three,
- Subtract one from the smallest number of generations. This is the degree of cousinship.
In the example, that smallest number is two, so the degree of cousinship is one, or first cousins.
- Next, find the difference between the generation numbers. In the example, one cousin is
two generations from the common ancestor; the other is three generations. The difference is:
3 - 2 = 1. This is the number of removals. These first cousins are one time removed.
They will be designated as "first cousins, once removed".
Your turn to practice: "Mary's great-grandmother is Eunice Smith. Joan's great-great-great
grandmother is the same Eunice Smith. How are Mary and Joan related?" If you place your mouse
over the question mark below, the answer should appear. But don't cheat! Try to figure it out
The Wikipedia entry on "Cousin" gives
several ways of determining relationships. It also includes several charts that might be helpful -
but might also add to the confusion. Find one that makes sense to you.
Please mail comments and suggestions to Susan Johnston at