Exchanging Data with Ancestry and FTM

This KB article is currently a 'work in progress'. Its purpose is to encourage FH users and developers to work together on researching and meeting the important objectives described below.

Information published here may be inaccurate. Do not rely on such information until it has become established.

If you wish to add, correct or discuss anything raised in this article please post in the forum under this topic: Ancestry, FTM, FH and workflow​.


Family Historian (FH) is regarded as comprehensive, flexible and established. It is advanced software for recording and reporting genealogical information. Ancestry has an enormous database of vital records and provides powerful features to both match and update such genealogical information. FH users would benefit significantly if FH could link well with Ancestry. Conversely, users of Ancestry's complementary Family Tree Maker (FTM) software (which does link) would benefit significantly from the advanced featured provided by FH. How can this be achieved?

Most feasible approach

Our genealogical information is recorded both in a GEDCOM text file and in individual external files such as JPG images (to which the GEDCOM provides links). Although GEDCOM files have a standard format to facilitate data exchange, it allows customisations such that FH and Ancestry/FTM use subtly different GEDCOM dialects. Ignoring why, we need to identify and develop methods to translate the differences between FH and Ancestry/FTM.

At the moment it is unlikely that a direct synchronisation link between FH and Ancestry would be feasible or indeed wise. Ancestry's FTM software (about £20) already synchronises reasonably with Ancestry so a more straightforward approach would be to synchronise between FH and FTM using GEDCOMs. We need to identify the differences, decide upon an approach that does not compromise significantly the use of either product and make the two way process as straightforward as possible.

A brief summary of project status

The remainder of this article is broken up into the likely steps necessary for a two way exchange to be achieved:

Step 1 Prepare your FH data for exchange with FTM (once only)

Step 2 Create a GEDCOM using the FH Export Plugin v1.7-2.0

Step 3 Import your FH GEDCOM to FTM

Step 4 Prepare your FTM data for use in Ancestry (once only)

Step 5 Update your FTM data using Ancestry hints

Step 6 Import your FTM GEDCOM back into FH

Other Advice

Forum Threads

See the Forum threads: