How Does GenDetective Work?

GenDetective rearranges your family into viewpoints that differ from other genealogy products on the market, with the belief that if we scrutinize our family differently new research opportunities and paths may open.  The goal is to help you break through genealogy brick walls, inspire new thoughts, identify research opportunities (read more here).

Study your tree

GenDetective begins by using a GEDCOM file created by your family tree manager.  Who, what?  The software you use to add people and information to your family tree, products like: RootsMagic, Legacy, Family Tree Maker, MyHeritage,, and others, can export your tree into a file that can be shared with other genealogists and software programs.  This enables you to “tell” GenDetective everything you know about your family.  Since GenDetective is installed on your computer, your research never leaves your hands; it is not shared with anyone but you!  For additional information on GEDCOM files view our video: So What Is A GEDCOM file?  Don’t know how to create the file?  GenDetective includes videos showing you step by step what to do.

I have my GEDCOM file (.ged), what now? Launch GenDetective, and using the wizard, point to the file you just created and let GenDetective go to work.

Wizard scans your tree

Time estimate

The wizard will read your file and tell you how many people, families, events and other information it found.  It will also provide an estimate as to how much time it estimates it may take to “digest” the information.

GenDetective takes your family and:

  • Arranges it based on geography, the places where our family lived, married and died
  • Identifies research opportunities for each person, using lifespan and geography
    • Estimates birth and death if not provided
    • Missing vital statistics, death statistics, immigration ..
    • Census records found and missing (federal, state and local)
    • Potential military service

GenDetective Serves Your Data In New Ways!

The GenDetective Wizard has finished, what happens next?  Explore GenDetective and the information it has compiled about your family and explore, look at your family on a map, look at the suggested research opportunities, study your family in the context of geography.  GenDetective has the following views:

  1. My Research Progress
  2. My Tree View
  3. My Family View
  4. My Maps View
  5. Reports By Task

In the next few blog posts we will discuss each one of these views into your family and how to use them to identify research opportunities, and break through your brick walls.  That’s our goal right?  Smash through, tunnel under or leap over our brick walls and proceed with our exciting new research.


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What Is GenDetective And How Does It Help My Genealogy Research?

GenDetective is your genealogy research companion.  It sits beside your family tree data entry program (RootsMagic, FTM, Legacy,, MyHeritage, etc) and helps you formulate research questions, identify research opportunities and plan research trips!

Why in the world do I need a program like GenDetective?  The family tree manager product I use does a really good job .. it manages the people in my families and all of the data I have compiled about those people!  It presents my people, in a “traditional block view”, which is familiar, and comfortable and predictable.  Its the same perspective I see whether I am online or on my computer desktop, or even on my tablet.

This is how we interact our families .. with the same view .. in every single program.

My Family in “Traditional Block View”

Detailed View .. Events Compiled about Person

Each program has a detailed view, when we click on a person, we see a list of the events that have been compiled for this persons life.  There is usually a way to view notes, the sources and the supporting documentation we have compiled for each event.

While these are great programs, with  variability between them, they do the job for which we use.  They manage our family tree and the vast quantities of data we have compiled.

The downside, is that each of these programs present our family in the same way, each and every day, and nothing changes.  We are looking at the same view of our people, staring at the same brick wall’s waiting, for inspiration to strike .. and it seldom does.

This is the void that GenDetective fills.  It rearranges your family into different perspectives, presents it in several non-traditional ways, displaying it from other angles, so that we look at our family in new and different ways.  This provides the opportunity for lightning to strike, gaining insight and finding a way around, over or under our brick walls.  GenDetective is your research companion .. helping you advance your research!

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Save 20% on GenDetective v3!


Cyber Monday Sale 2017

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GenDetective version 3 Is Now Available!

GenDetective v3 is now available for purchase and download from our website at Get GenDetective Now!  Version 3 introduces new features and several improvements, including:

    1. New My Tree view combines the functionality of traditional “block” view of our families combined with My Research Progress

My Tree View

  1. My Family view now supports many different detailed reports
  2. My Maps view now provides a list of people at the smallest mapping levels
  3. New HTML style reports
  4. Font sizing options to accommodate the smallest screens to the largest
  5. Speed improvements in reporting and analysis
  6. Many other small enhancements

We hope GenDetective will provide the insight to help break through your brick walls!


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GenDetective Video Series Videos

The GenDetective Video Series has released several new videos, updated for the release of GenDetective 3.0!

    1. Getting Started with GenDetective v3
    2. Introduction to GenDetective
    3. My Tree View
    4. My Family View
    5. My Maps View
    6. My Research Progress 
    7. My Video Library
    8. Overview of GenDetective
    9. Reports by Task
    10. So What Is A GEDCOM File Anyway?

These videos are available for viewing on YouTube now and will be viewable from inside GenDetective 3.0 when it is released early the week of November 10th, 2017!

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GenDetective Video Series Releases!

The GenDetective Video Series has released 4 new videos, updated for GenDetective 3.0!

GenDetective Video Series

The new videos are:

  1. Getting Started With GenDetective v3
  2. My Video Library
  3. My Research Progress
  4. My Maps View

These videos are available for viewing on YouTube now and will be viewable from inside GenDetective 3.0 when it is released in November 2017!

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GenDetective v3: Enhanced Trip Planning Packet!

GenDetective v3 has introduced several enhancements to the Research Trip Packet.  Each county trip packet contains:

  • List of relatives you are researching who lived in the county
  • List of people whose birth certificates/baptisms
  • List of people whose death certificates/obituaries
  • List of people whose marriage certificates/licenses/church records
  • List of people whose estate records
  • List of people for deeds and mortgages
  • A research worksheet for each person

The first enhancement is related to identifying the geography for your trip.  You can now select from 3 options:

  1. One county trip packet (same as in v2 today)
  2. Multi-county trip packet: Identify the counties in a state you plan to visit and the resulting trip packet will generate the research lists by county and include a packet of detailed information for the people.
  3. State trip packet: Identify the state you are traveling to, and GenDetective will identify the counties were your relatives were located, and the resulting trip packet will contain the research lists by county and include a packet of detailed information for the people.

The second enhancement is that you can now pick which research worksheet to include in your research packet.  You can choose from the following:

Research Progress Worksheet

Source Timeline Report

Research Worksheet

Detailed Worksheet

Ahnentafel Report
































We hope you are as thrilled with these Research Trip Packet enhancements as we are!

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