MHSS Mennonite Historical Societty of Saskatchewan
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1:30 - 4:00 p.m.
Wednesday:
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The GRANDMA Genealogical Database

Mennonites have a long tradition of being interested in family history and genealogical research. Mennonites have been keeping track of such information in church records, family Bibles, journals, and other documents for over three centuries. Many Mennonite genealogical books have also been published, particularly during the past 50 years. Many genealogists now use technology and the digital data processing of computers; significant amounts of multigenerational family histories are being contributed to these increasingly sophisticated computer programs.

Alan Peters was probably the first significant Mennonite genealogist to enter substantial amounts of genealogical data into a database that belongs to the California Mennonite Historical Society (CMHS) in Fresno, California. This genealogical database of people with Low German Mennonite ancestry who originally came from West Prussia and/or Russia. GRANDMA stands for "Genealogical Registry And Database of Mennonite Ancestry." An introduction to this data base is available at Tim Janzen on the internet where you choose the GRANDMA button in the left column. There is direct information available at the CMHS website: calmenno.org/grandma/index.htm. An on-line version grandmaonline.org contains the most recent version of the database but requires a membership and password. Specific personal information of the previous hundred years is not available on the website; however, there are many useful search options developed for this on-line program.

For many of us there are several preferred genealogical processing programs on which to run the GRANDMA data. Brother's Keeper is a shareware processor that can be ordered with GRANDMA or down-loaded (and/or also purchased with increased options) from the website: bkwin.org/. It is good to frequently update the latest improvement from this website. This program is capable of many printouts that are most helpful among which is the Fan Chart of ancestors which gives a good view when developing family histories. On the edit screen where most data is entered the first column lists events that are then developed in subsequent columns on any given row.

For the genealogist that has chosen a certain GRANDMA database to develop with Brother's Keeper, it is possible on the Edit screen to list other 'Event/Facts' by selecting the "Add" feature from the upper tool-bar and "New Custom Event Name (Individual)". When using information from other sources or other GRANDMA editions it is helpful to create a "GM xref" option for this first column. For instance if GRANDMA 4 is the personal base that will be retained to develop and there is useful information from a later version like GRANDMA 5, a message at the event 'GM xref' in the location/description field could reference it as "5#1010101" (this number was chosen randomly for the illustration). The genealogist would then have a handy reference without copying all of the information from the database that is referenced which in this instance would be individual file #1010101 of Helena Boldt in the GRANDMA 5 data. Many other illustrations could be given that would demonstrate the usefulness to reference other compilations. For the benefit of those who accept information for expansion of the 'master database' this 'GM xref' can also be an asset to recognize individual file enhancements made by contributors to upcoming GRANDAMA editions. Anybody interested in pursuing this further from this site may Contact Us.

GRANDMA data from its 'gedcom' form also works well in 'Legacy', which is a more sophisticated program. Mac computer users can import the GRANDMA data into programs such as GEDitCoM or Reunion 8.

Some additional significant websites for anybody pursuing their ancestors are the continuously developing: Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online and Mennonite Genealogy - New files maintained and referenced from the Main index.

Note: As of October 5, 2012, GRANDMA 7 (GM7) is now ready, with 1,250,285 names. It may be obtained from the above links.

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Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan (MHSS)
Room 900 - 110 La Ronge Road, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7K 7H8
(306)242-6105
Archive Hours: Monday: 1:30 - 4:00 p.m. Wednesday: 1:30 - 4:00 p.m. & 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.