A new Heirlooms category?

It would be useful if Gramps had a category for cataloging family heirlooms.

There are a number of inheritable items that I would like to be able to track with Gramps across the generations.

We have painted portraits, tintype photos, cabinet cards, furniture, jewelry, bibles, documents. There are even family homesteads/farms that have been sold at a token price with the understanding the property would stay in family hands. And many other unusual types of things like copyrights on research, patents, wedding dresses or hanks of hair.

It would be useful for documenting the stories, provenance, & disposition of these items. More importantly, it would record future directives (codicils) on inheritance. (Our own fond inventories of genealogical research could have such directives.)

The secondary records might include Media like Photographs, bills of sale, wills where the item was disbursed, etc. It would include Notes telling the story of how the heirloom came into the family and any special significance. It would have People/Repositories who curated the piece during certain timespans. (Some pieces are on indefinite loan to museums and institutions.) Heirloom properties would have Places. The would have events such as Probates (or curation transfers) when possession/control changed hands. They would have Internet & address for locating the item. And the References would be a bonanza of provenance history.

At a stretch, heirlooms could include electronic assets like our personal websites, domains, and genealogical Cloud service accounts.

And each heirloom should also have its own “home person” designator: the progenitor (person or couple) who brought it into the family. That item is an heirloom of all descendants, whether they had possession/ownership or not.

Eventually, it would be nice to be able to run a personalized report to give to any person in the tree a list that says these are your personalized heritage. Or if the Person was within 50 miles of a city, a filtered curator report should support arranging visit to the site or person to touch/see your ancestral worldly goods. (I’d probably want a reporting option to include burial sites.) Or, if arranging a family reunion, a filtered report could allow to contact all the curators of heirlooms to arrange presentations & exhibits.


Agree, or just as simple as having an “Generic Objects” category, that you could link to places, people, events etc.
Just like any other Gramps Object…

That way it could hold not only inherited items, but any object that was of importance… e.g. a patented object (Not the patent it self, that can be added as an event), a special book (and you could write the history of that book item) or any other object that’s important, even if it didn’t/want be an inherited object.
It would of course be a great extra feature if Notes got a Date Field so that You could create chronological histories with Notes, (things that is not “big enough” to be an event in it self).


Wow, this is an interesting idea! A huge scope here … I wonder if it is really something that fits into Gramps, or if it ought to be a database of its own.

My first thought when I read through this was that Tellico might be appropriate. Tellico is a tool for managing collections of stuff. “Stuff” can be music albums (LPs, CDs, etc), books, Movies (DVD, VHS), stamps, comic books and much more that I am not thinking of. Tellico has predefined templates for a dozen or so collection types. It is very flexible, with new fields easily added and old ones taken out. Some of the collection types have a way to record loans of the items.

On the downside - The underlying Tellico database is just a large XML file. There is no exposed API. Putting references to specific items in a Gramps note is probably not possible. It is an idea, though. I am sure others on this list have better ideas.

In my case, my paternal grandmother was quite a painter. For many years her Christmas gifts to the family were her paintings. They have little intrinsic but rather large sentimental value. I have a directory of photos of most of her work along with whose house is currently hosting it. It would be nice to have something a bit more formal. There are about 300 of her art works that I know of scattered among about ten or twelve families.

My brother and I had a discussion a few months ago about how digital assets are managed after the owner passes. I was mainly concerned about who might take over my Gramps data, but my brother pointed out that this encompasses FAR more. Online accounts (as Brian mentioned), digitized music, digital photos, GoPro videos, web sites like a YouTube channel… There is a lot of stuff to think about. We did not come to any conclusions other than to make sure such things are mentioned in our wills and executor instructions.


Since my mother fought cancer for several years with increasingly radical procedures before the end was inevitable, we had to plan for digital assets. I found a secure account/password that she used to log onto any service (including eMail & electronic billing). It also regular generated complex passwords so she didn’t fall into predictable passwords.

Over 3 years, she added each monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, annual & irregularly recurring account. (Stunning how many digital accounts comprise our digital footprint.) This was a vital tool for her executor. It organized closing out her accounts.

5 years later, we still have to use it when some system decides she has been resurrected of an online account has been defaced.

Yes, an external tool will always have more features for some things, e.g. Digikam for Digital Assets, Omeka for publishing of digital exhibitions, Joplin, Zettlr, Foam, Obsidian etc. for Notes and specially research notes, Gephi, Tulip, Cytoscape, Constellation etc. for network graph research and analyses of relations and links between objects, or Aeon or The Timeline Project for creating Timelines of Events and analyzing time based data, Document Management software like OpenKM etc.,
or in this forum the much hated Zotero for Citation and Bibliography and general Source Management.

The big problem is to connect data from alle this software together, either with interoperability or interchangeable formats, specially for users that do not have a degree in a programming language.

The idea would be to have a feature for items that has some kind of relation to you or any member of your family or research object in general, regardless of if you focus on linage-linked- or wider research.
For those object you don’t necessarily need a full list of Metadata for each object, but you need to be able to link them to places, people and events in a meaningful way, and if in addition it was possible to add a link to another digital object for this item in another software, that would be a bonus…

I do this today by using Markdown for all my research notes and link them as media objects to each of my research object in any of the research software I use, included my Gramps database of registered objects. In a MD file I can add links to any other digital object I like, create charts and graphs, and embed any or all of those research notes into one “Main Document” that I can link to in other software if I need to.
I do the same with media files, my “main” DAM software is Digikam and Fotostation Pro, and I link any digital object “from there”.

But it would be great if it was possible to interchange data between the different software a little easier than doing it “all manual” and be forced to register the same information 3-4-5 times in different software, or be able to register more in one software.

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@emyoulation A heirloom/object category would be a very interesting addition to Gramps and give us many new possibilities to record family history. It’s probably best to keep the default properties a minimum and allow users to add the object’s attributes, events, media, notes, etc freely as they need them. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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Yes. In fact, it could be good to make it a generic capability (“user-defined object and corresponding category view”) so that different users could configure and use it for several different purposes. Other possibilities include Ships, Pets, Family Businesses, etc.


Hmm I think we should stay on (dead) objects, which are a kind of heirloom.

Pets or animals are another thing, especially if people are also interested into the breeding.

Businesses, Ships (e.g. as a workplace) could fit well in the organisation data structure I mentioned back when talking about “Sets” in Gramps:

Families record close individuals through biological (and non-biological) relationships (e.g. parent-child), associations do that for friends and acquaintances and organisations would connect unrelated individuals through their jobs/positions in an organisation.


Something has been nagging at me since the term “object” first appeared in this thread.

It finally dawned that object is a term that is used throughout the Gramps-project for another purpose. The usage is so pervasive that the word has too much baggage to be re-purpose.

If ‘heirloom’ is inappropriate, what other words work?

Artifacts? Relics? Keepsakes? Curios? Worldly goods?

Assuming that the category name(s) could be easily reconfigured by the user, why not just call it “Things”?

One user might want a single category for “Heirlooms”. Another user might want two distinct categories for “Works of Art” and “Musical Compositions” (perhaps to be used with Events of custom types “Exhibition” and “Performance”, and custom roles as well).

Personally, I don’t have an immediate need, so I am just making up examples, but my point is that if the feature is built in a generic way, then it might be useful to a greater number of users.

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You can use Items instead of Objects… Artifacts, Relics etc. is very specific…


I agree with this new category.
Personaly, I use events to attach these kind of things.
The problem will be:
Do we need to create new objects (i.e. Items) ?
How these objects will be exported ? gedcom-7 doesn’t speak about that.


After doing some reading, this appears be a huge can of worms. And not something that would turn out well without a lot (a LOT!) of discussion & design work.

Isn’t “not being supported by gedcom” a problem of every new idea, which is more than a variation of already existing things?

Could you please share an example how you currently record heirlooms/items with events? Maybe you already have a good solution which does not require a change at all.

You have several cases:

  • You have an invoice for the item on a specific date.
    You create an event with the date of purchase. You add a note, the proffs (invoice, photo …)

  • A document proves that the person is in possession of the object. This document is dated or at an approximate date.
    You create an event with the date “before date”.

  • A notarial deed mentions the object
    You create an event with the date “before deed date”.

  • All other cases
    You create an event with the date "before death date of X)

Add the proofs (invoice, photo …), add a note with your comments.

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Or just use FOAM or Obsidian, create notes for all your research objects, including Items, Ships, Houses, Moonlanders, dirty laundry, and create timelines, sub notes, links between any Items Notes and other Items Notes with simple wiki-links with support for aliases (piped links), You can easily add images to the markdown file, or web pages, or create a chart in the note, or a timeline, or add a map…
And you can see all your links and relations in the graph view…

If you want even more, use Gephi, Cytoscape, or if you also want timelines and maps (geo locations), try Constellation App…

All but Obsidian is Open Source and free, Obsidian is only free…

It’s easy to create articles and reports from a markdown file, you can even embed notes in a main “document” with queries, to construct a full book using your notes…

Just an alternative for those who like to do some more research than be forced by LDS to conform to their idea of a plain lineage-linked research.

I would model this as a place; places support custom Types, so a Place Type of “Heirloom” can be created.

An “ownership” Event could then be created, with a date period.

Both Events and Places support notes, attributes and citations.

(I already model ships used for journeys between ports as Persons, and when a “human” Person has a Travel Event, I share the Travel Event with the “ship” Person, role=Ship.

“ship” Person are (of course) female.)

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Rather than Ownership as the Event, it might more sense to consider the Event to be a change in Provenance. (Which delays someone taking the Owner/Master connotation to hijack the narrative down an ugly path.)

If this feature could also be used as an excuse to develop the Association concept, it would be an interesting development.

Right now, we have several items where the connectivity & structure is so loose that the extended data has little practical application. Perhaps some of them might used to extend this Heirloom metaphor:

Alternate names of Persons & Places is also pretty loose data. But I don’t immediately see where they could be leveraged with this feature. The same with name origins.