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Software Review of:
Brother's Keeper 
version 5.2 for Windows 

From the November, 2000 issue of PC Alamode Magazine
by Rose Lynn Saenger
When I was in the work force, all program installation came about through some mysterious, faceless programmer who had to write programs for specific results at an astronomical fee. Then when we got personal computers in the office, the necessary software was loaded before delivery. As a result of time warp, my next experience with PCs was when I acquired my first PC and programs were installed via plug ‘n play from a CD-ROM. What a surprise when I opened this program and discovered two floppy disks. In spite of my Brother's Keeper Logoapprehension, installation went smoothly. 

System requirements for running this software are among the shortest that I have seen — a 386 computer or higher with 4-8 MB RAM, 3 MB of hard disk space and Microsoft Windows 3.1, 3.11, 95, 98 or NT. 

Brother’s Keeper is a genealogy program for windows that was developed initially in black, white and gray for the DOS O/S. As the years have gone by, the developer has continuously upgraded and improved the software so that the current version, 5.2, is suitable for the most current version of Windows. The software for Brother’s Keeper is shareware that can be downloaded from the Internet. Then after a trial period, you can choose to keep it by paying a fee of $49. For that fee, you may register the software and receive a manual and a password. The copyright owner, John Steed sent a copy of the manual with the installation diskettes, a registration number, and a password. After installation, I opened Brother’s Keeper and immediately entered the registration number and password. A dialog window popped up telling me that the “temporary password has expired”. After this initial experience with this software, I noticed that the packet had been mailed to Alamo PC Organization in the latter part of the year 1998. I decided “No Problem” — I can review this from shareware. 

My father had provided me with a lot of names and dates for my grandparents, their siblings and their parents. I have tried to keep birthdates and marriage dates for my siblings and their spouses as well as the birthdates of all of my nieces and nephews. With books and lists in hand, I started putting in the information about my paternal family. It was easy to in-put and I only regretted that there is a lot of information that I do not have about family like baptismal records and often cities of birth. (My father’s parents both came from England and Daddy told me the name of the town, but somehow I either did not write it down or I have not found where I wrote it.) Nevertheless, I feel like I can locate some of the missing information from siblings that are still living. I had four generations charted and before I started on the fifth generation, I wanted to see what some of the charts would look like. I checked out several of the different types of charts such as the tree chart, the box chart, and the ancestor charts. None of the charts would save on a diskette or on my hard drive and I (foolishly) decided not to print the charts at that time. Being rather late that night, I folded up my PC and I crashed.

The next night, I went back to work on my ‘family lineage’ and discovered that apparently shareware after a certain time will self-destruct. I could open the program, but it would not allow me to do anything with the data that had already been saved. Neither would the program permit me to start a new database. The opening window simply sat there. When I went to file>open>a, the program opened my database and listed each part of it but would not let me access any portion. If I typed in a specific name, a dialog window said it could not be located. After trying every name that I had originally put into the database and continuously coming up with zero, I can only come to the conclusion that the program will not let me do any more until I have actually purchased the program. In addition to basic life event dates, this program enables you to put in information about occupations, other pertinent information and pictures. Since I could not get back in to my data, I was unable to see how well it took pictures. 

The  Brother's Keeper web site has links to read a list of features, to see recent changes, to view sample reports as well as to order the full version, download the latest program and read about the development of version 6. The web site also gives solutions for some of the problems that users might have with hardware. I checked out “recent changes” and printed out 10 pages of fixes starting with Feb. 1998 through June 12, 2000. I am impressed that fixes are posted so frequently for the problems that arise. I also checked out the “features” and will highlight some of the features that are listed. Each database can hold 1 million names and apparently the Mennonite Historical Society is using this program to document their history. It is possible to attach pictures to people and there is a large message area for each person. This program can print multi-page ancestor charts with four to six generations per page. You can also print a book with an index as well as custom designed lists and a birthday/anniversary list or calendar. Brother’s Keeper has many more features that are listed on the Internet.

I have not tried any other genealogy program but I have so often seen them with some excellent discounts. I think that I will try to get a genealogy program from one of the local retailers when the rebate is equal or nearly equal to the purchase price. I found the manual for Brother’s Keeper to be somewhat difficult for me to decipher (much of the terminology is still new to me) and the ‘Help’ menu only seemed to repeat what I already could not decipher. (As of this writing, I still don’t know what ‘Gedcom’ is).

Brother’s Keeper is available from 
John Steed
Note: the area code may have changed since this information was printed.
6907 Childsdale Ave.
Rockford, MI 79341
Phone (616) 364-5503
E-mail: []

or on the Internet at <>

This year, Rose Lynn Saenger suddenly became the oldest living member of her tribe and as such feels a strong need to preserve some of the family history.