Let me guess: You probably have some missing dates in your genealogy database, right? You know the death date of great-aunt Emma but don’t know her birth date. Perhaps you have both of those dates but not her date of marriage. GEDCOM Estimator may be able to help make educated guesses.
The GEDCOM Estimator is a program that estimates missing dates in a genealogical database. It is not a complete genealogy system and will not replace the present program you are using to keep your genealogy database. However, you can use it as an extra tool to estimate missing dates.
The GEDCOM Estimator loops through the database you supply and initially says that all missing dates must have been sometime between year 0 and year 9999. Then, it repeatedly loops through the database using a number of constraints to give a closer estimate each time. When it has finished, it has hopefully produced a fairly good estimate for the missing dates, although the precision is dependent on the rest of the data in the database.
The GEDCOM Estimator was developed by Vegard Brox as part of his studies for a Bachelor of Science in Computing Science at University of Newcastle upon Tyne in England. The program is written in Java and should run on any 32-bit version of Microsoft Windows as well as on Macintosh, Sun Solaris and Linux. It probably will work on other operating systems as well, as long as Java 1.1 support is available.
The program is a quick download at 37,000 bytes. There is no automatic installation program; you must unzip the download file with WinZIP or some other ZIP program. Then read the README.TXT file for the brief instructions.
The GEDCOM Estimator reads input data from a GEDCOM file and then writes the output to a second GEDCOM file. I was surprised at how quickly it ran on my 3,000+-name GEDCOM file. I didn’t time it precisely, but the entire operation only took a few seconds. Of course, performance will vary depending upon the speed of the processor and the amount of memory available.
I used my favorite genealogy program to look at the resultant GEDCOM file. I created a new, empty database and then imported the GEDCOM file created by The GEDCOM Estimator. Several dates that had been missing in my original database now showed a range of years, along with the word “between.” For instance, a previously missing date of death would now show a range of years. The first year would be the last year in which anything is documented for this person. The second year in the range would be a maximum age of life expectancy. It was a little unsettling to see my own date of death listed with an estimated range of years!
You can use any modern genealogy program to view the data available in the output GEDCOM file that is created by The GEDCOM Estimator. However, keep in mind that GEDCOM is an imprecise file standard which occasionally will lose data. While it is acceptable to produce a GEDCOM file and then use that for data viewing, I would strongly suggest that you not import the resultant GEDCOM file back into your primary genealogy database.
In the case of The GEDCOM Estimator, I would not automatically import new data into my primary database. I would instead look at each and every newly estimated date on my screen. If I agreed with the estimate, I would then manually re-type the date into my primary database and mark it as “estimated.”
The GEDCOM Estimator is a utility that can be quite helpful, especially to genealogy newcomers. It doesn’t do anything that you cannot do manually, but it does automate a process and offer suggestions that may be helpful in narrowing down your research efforts.
The GEDCOM Estimator is a free program and is available online. For more information or to download Vegard Brox’s program itself, go to: http://home.no.net/gedcom/