Is Gramps suitable for genealogy of three villages

Before I download Gramps, I’d like to know whether anyone has tried using it to document the genealogy of a group of families, many of which are interrelated at some point in the past. If so, did it help with organising your data? I’ve already read in the forum that it might not be very useful in analysing the data, but for the moment I’m more interested in a means of recording all the disparate information live informants (and a very few documents) are telling me. If anyone is interested here’s a link to a blog I’ve just written which has created a surge of interest among the inhabitants of the three villages to record their memories: Abandoned Farmhouse of Casabasciana. If not Gramps, then does anyone have a good alternative to suggest? Thanks

Yes sure, Gramps main goal is helping you organising genealogical data of people.

Most users use Gramps for ancestor or decandant trees, but you can also just add all people of the three village to the database. I also have many unrelated persons in my database (e.g. people/families with the same surname, who lived in the same area and I tried to find out if they were relatives or not).

Gramps has many features and windows, which are overwhelming for new users, so there are tutorials how to add and edit data:
Brief overview
More detailed information

Thanks. Sounds promising. It was the overwhelming-ness that worried me. I’ll look at the tutorials you list and give it a try.

It sounds like you are proposing a ‘One Place Study’.

You can find lots more web sites that offer suggestions and information on such a project.

What software tools you should use depend on the scope and objectives for the project, whether this is an individual or group project, etc. Gramps works well for a single researcher; very poorly for multiple contributors. Also if you want to organize your research by location (maybe farms or street address), Gramps may not be the right tool.

Just some food for thought.


If the Even for Places comes in 5.2, you will have even better tools for village or place research…

I use Gramps for a combination Genealogy Research, Place Research, Ship Research and Event Research…

There are some limitations regarding visualization and analyzes of Place and Event research, but with a few external tools and some work in excel or panda, you can do a lot.

Thanks for alerting me to one-place studies. I hadn’t heard of them before. It was interesting reading a couple of them on the Society website. If I get anywhere with my project, I’ll register it with them. I searched a little further for database tools like Gramps, but aimed at OPS. Nothing obvious popped up. They focus on how to find sources of information. I don’t have that problem. The president of the local chapter of the Lucca Historical Society is from my village. He has access to all the church and civic records. I just need a good database for collecting and organising all the documentary and word-of-mouth data. Unless you have other suggestions, I’ll try it.

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Thanks for your encouragement. If you can use Gramps for ships, I should be able to do it for abandoned farmhouses. I’m going to give it a go.

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It’s easy, you create your Place Hierarchy, down to the lowest known administrative unit/place, then you add the streets/roads and then the different buildings/real Estate.

Then you start add Events that you connect to those places…

When you add people to those Events, you add the event as a Shared Events to each person, and add a role for each individual person that participated in that shared event.

Remember that some events are better to connect as personal events, like birth and other vital data tied to an event…

Maybe some of the developers can confirm if it will be possible to add events to places as subject in 5.2 and if there will be a function to transfer events from a person as subject to a place as subject for an event…?

Thanks so much for these tips. Had to look up Place Hierarchy at which point I understood precisely why you suggest starting there. I would have started with people, who are some of my main sources, but I now understand that wouldn’t have suited my research.

I still have lots to learn about using the database. Am finding the Youtube videos by experienced users more helpful than the written instructions. If you have any more tips, please send them along.

No word from the developers yet.

My number one tips for everyone with a lot of sources is to learn to use Zotero to collect all sources/documents with, add all the metadata and write notes for the sources, then add the sources to Gramps, and use Zotero to generate citation strings for you, that way you will have uniformed citations, and a really good open source software/database for all sources, regardless of if it’s images/scans of papers, or a web page. (zotero have a really good add-on (web clipper) for most common web browser.
In addition I usually recommend to use a DAM (Digital Asset Management) software for all images and images of documents to make even better metadata and transcriptions if needed.
Tropy is a good alternative for that.

I have also started to test out a PKS (Personal Knowledge Software) called Obsidian, that is a markdown notebook/knowledge software, because it use plain text markdown files, the files can be added as media in Gramps (or the text can be copied), or you can export your notes to pdf if you like that format better.
In addition to Obsidian I also use Zettlr (another markdown notebook), that reads the same folder structure, but have some other features.

There are two reasons for why I use Obsidian, first, there are an add-on to Zotero that can export all your sources and notes to markdown files for Obsidian, with templating, so you can define your MD file structure.
Second is because Obsidan has a network graph view that shows you all your links between the notes, including backlinks.
It’s a great research tool to find possible hidden connections in text. you just create “#tags” and/or “[[links]]” in the notes for what ever name or word you like and it will generate all the links for you…
So if you have thousands of notes/sources, it can be somehow difficult to see connections in a “normal” software, but in Obsidian you can suddenly see connections between two Notes (i.e. Adresses or a Person or Document) that you wouldn’t have found without making a network in i.e Tulip, Gephi, Constellation or Cytoscape (all that are important tool for extended research).

All this is software you can use in addition to Gramps, they do not read a Gramps database directly, but it is possible to make some workarounds to be able export from Gramps and Import to other research tools… (Not easy at the moment).

Network graph tools to consider later:

Aleph data desktop ( (Limited import/export functionality)

But it’s important that you start one place and figure out what your needs are, if you need a good network graph to show connections/ between Places, Events and People in that order in a good graphical way in addition to show relations between people, you will need to use some external tool as mentioned over here…
Obsidian is a good an easy starting point for that, and it if you later need more, it has a neo4j add-on that sync your notes with a the neo4j graph database…

Another tool that can come useful to learn something about is Graphviz, some of the reports in Gramps can be saved to Graphviz formats, and you can from there work on the graphs to make more advanced graphs, covering more object… and Graphviz graphs can be imported to some of the network graph tools…

Some of this is really advanced, so don’t get scared of, just look at it as possibilities when you advance in your research, and some tools that can be useful.


Thank you so much for all this advice and apologies for not responding sooner. I got caught up in Christmas, not to mention having a quick look at all the software aids you recommend. I will probably have very few sources; mostly personal interviews with living people which I hope can be attached to Gramps media and my own notes on them in the notes field. Tropy looks the most interesting software for me at the moment. Already I have lots of photos which I store in Mac Photos with tags, but it drives me crazy not showing me all the photos with the tag I’m searching for. Maybe then Obsidian because there will be lots of connections between places and people that I might miss. Thank you again and happy researching in 2021!

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I have been working with GRAMPS for several years in a study of Swedish immigrants in a locality/region. GRAMPS has become increasingly stable and the SQL backend promises to make it more open to this sort of study.

However, the inhouse report structure does not meet the needs you will have in using the data. GRAMPS becomes a good filing system with some useful research enlightenment coming from its genealogy-based structure. But when it comes to statistical analysis or writing a book it becomes un-useful.

I am currently working to link the data entered in GRAMPS to InDesign for publication. It is likely that I will need to create an intermediate database to make this function. : (

Good luck with your study,

Thanks for your advice and warning. If there were another database perfect for the job, I’d switch before I get very far, but no one has suggested an alternative. I’m not sure whether this will lead to a book, although it probably should. For now I’m doing it out of my own curiosity and to stimulate the people of the village to preserve their own history before it dies with those who remember it and are willing to talk about it. I guess I may have your problem in the end, and maybe by then you or someone else will have some more advice for me.

Good luck to you too


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