Personal Ancestral File

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Personal Ancestral File
Initial release1983; 40 years ago (1983)[1][2]
Final release
2002 (version, support discontinued July 15, 2013; 9 years ago (2013-07-15)[3]
Operating systemWindows, Macintosh
TypeGenealogy software

Personal Ancestral File (PAF), as of 2013, is a discontinued free genealogy software provided by FamilySearch, a website operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It allowed users to enter names, dates, citations and source information into a database, and sort and search the genealogical data, print forms and charts, and share files with others in GEDCOM format. PAF also linked images and other media files to individual records.


The history of PAF ran in parallel with the evolution of GEDCOM,[4] the de facto specification for GEnealogy Data COMmunication or exchange.

Version 2.3.1, released in 1994, was the last version written specifically for the Macintosh operating system,[5] though PAF 5.2.18, written for Windows, can be installed on Apple Mac OS X using CrossOver Mac.

In 2004 there were speculations about PAF being made open-source.[6]

Version began with an adaptation of Incline Software's Ancestral Quest program,[7] written by Gaylon Findlay.[8] Findlay has been involved in updates of PAF.[5] Ancestral Quest has been developed separately, although it retains much of the basic visual layout and file structure of PAF.

As of 15 July 2013, PAF was discontinued.[3][9]

Releases (1984–2002)[edit]

The following is a selected release history:

  • PAF 1.0 (DOS) released in April 1984. Written in BASIC and did not have support for GEDCOM.[10][11][12][13][14]
  • PAF 2.0 (DOS, Apple II, CP/M) released in April 1986. Supported an early specification of GEDCOM 2.0.[15] Due to PAF's slowness in BASIC, it was rewritten in C.[16][17][18]
  • PAF 2.1 (DOS, Apple PRO-DOS, Macintosh) released in 1987.[19] Supported an early specification of GEDCOM 4.0.
  • PAF 2.2 (DOS, Apple PRO-DOS, Macintosh) released in 1989.[20] Supported an early specification of GEDCOM 4.0.
  • PAF 2.3 (DOS, Macintosh) released in 1994.[21][22] The Macintosh version was called PAF:Family Records and MacPAF. Supported an early specification of GEDCOM 4.0.
  • PAF 2.31 (DOS, Macintosh) released 30 Sep 1994.[23] This was the final release of the Macintosh version and only worked on Classic OS - OS 8.5 through OS 9.2.2.[24] Supported an early specification of GEDCOM 4.0.
  • PAF 3.0 (DOS) released May 1997.[25] Supports the current GEDCOM 5.5 specification.
  • PAF 3.0M (DOS) released June 1999. A maintenance release of PAF 3.0; Shows as Release 3.01M.
  • PAF 4.0 released 28 June 1999. (Win9x/NT) Freeware. Supports the current GEDCOM 5.5 specification.[26] PAF 4.0 was based on Ancestral Quest.[27][28]
  • PAF 5.0 released in November 2000 (Win9x/NT) Freeware. Supports the current GEDCOM 5.5 specification. First version to support Unicode allowing multiple languages.[29][30] Included was a standalone read only Palm OS application to view, but not edit, PAF data.[31][32][33][34][35]
  • PAF 5.1 released in 2001 (Win9x/NT) Freeware. Supports the current GEDCOM 5.5 specification. Support multiple languages.[29]
  • PAF 5.2 released 23 July 2002 (Win9x/NT) Freeware. Supports the current GEDCOM 5.5 specification. Supports multiple languages.[36]

Multilingual support[edit]

  • PAF 4.x supported English, Spanish, Portuguese, German and French; PAF 4.0.4 was the last version for French, Spanish, and Portuguese
  • PAF 5.x supported English, Chinese, German, Japanese, Korean, and Swedish

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chapter 8: Automating the Records, BYU Studies, vol. 34 (1994), Number 2--1994 - "Personal Ancestral File (PAF) was initiated in 1983 as a part of the Ancestral File project."
  2. ^ Early Genealogy Programs - The Humble Beginnings of Genealogy Software on the Computer - By Dick Eastman - "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints first introduced Personal Ancestral File (PAF) in 1983. The program had a previously unheard-of low price of only $35.", a part of The New York Times Company.
  3. ^ a b Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Is Discontinued, Beginning July 15, 2013, PAF will be retired and will no longer be available for download or support. For full details and for information on alternative products, please visit, June 21, 2013, By David Pugmire, FamilySearch Blog
  4. ^ Subject:Timeline of GEDCOM versions and PAF"The evolution of GEDCOM runs parallel to the development of PAF that for many years, especially 1985–1989, was LDS' real-world implementation of GEDCOM." George Archer - Date:Mon, 20 Nov 2000 21:34:35 -0500
  5. ^ a b Personal Ancestral File for Macs - Selected FAQ Archived 2009-02-20 at the Wayback Machine "The current version of Personal Ancestral File for the Macintosh is 2.3.1. The current IBM versions of Personal Ancestral File are and 5.2.18 (as of Aug 2002).
  6. ^ Sant, Bryan (October 14, 2004). "Open-sourcing PAF". PLUG — Provo Linux Users Group Mailing List. Archived from the original on 2006-10-11.
  7. ^ "Ancestral Quest". Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  8. ^ Gaylon Findlay Archived 2009-03-06 at - "President of Incline Software" - Mesa, Arizona Family History Expo 2008 - Family History Expos
  9. ^ "Personal Ancestral File (PAF) —". Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  10. ^ Chapter 8: Automating the Records, BYU Studies, vol. 34 (1994), Number 2--1994 - "Personal Ancestral File (PAF) was initiated in 1983 as a part of the Ancestral File project. It was released in April 1984"
  11. ^ “Personal Ancestral File: New Genealogical Software for Home Computers,” Ensign, June 1984, p. 78: "At present, Personal Ancestral File has been developed for IBM PC and IBM PC/XT computers"
  12. ^ RootsWeb: ROOTS-L Re: Genealogical Programs From: Cliff Manis Archived 2011-07-15 at the Wayback Machine "I still have the PAF 1.0 in BASIC." - Date: Sun, 28 Oct 90 18:17:06 CST
  13. ^ NSGS--NEBRASKA ANCESTREE Vol VII, no. 3, page 83 - Winter 1984-5 Archived 2009-03-06 at the Wayback Machine From: Keith W. Chambers, Beatrice, NE KEITH'S COMPUTER KORNER - "I read an article in the World-Herald about a new computer program that was being introduced by the LDS Church"
  14. ^ Kathleen Lubeck, “The Church and Computers: Using Tools the Lord Has Provided,” Ensign, June 1984, p. 24: "'The Genealogical Department has just completed development of a new genealogy software program for those who own or have access to personal computers,' he added. 'Personal Ancestral File is now available.'"
  15. ^ “New Genealogy Software Available for Computers,” Ensign, July 1986, p. 75: "While the original software package (Personal Ancestral File 1.0), released two years ago, was written in BASIC, Personal Ancestral File 2.0 uses 'C,' a computer language that allows faster operation and fits on fewer diskettes."
  16. ^ RootsWeb: ROOTS-L Re: Genealogical Programs Archived 2011-07-15 at the Wayback Machine - From: Ron Holt Date: Sun, 28 Oct 90 16:23:48 GMT - "I'm one of the original developers of PAF (version 2.0) and know there was a Unix (actually Xenix) version done. Though the original version was developed on an IBM PC, we got to the point that we did most of our development work on the Xenix version and then ported that version to the PC, Apple II, etc." Date: Sun, 28 Oct 90 18:17:06 CST
  17. ^ "Chapter 8: Automating the Records, BYU Studies, vol. 34 (1994), Number 2--1994 "The earliest version of Personal Ancestral File had one glaring deficiency-poor response time. Release 2.0, a complete rewrite that was available in April 1986"
  18. ^ Lori Stephenson Dawson, “Even in an Ordinary Ward,” New Era, November 1987, p. 9: "Personal Ancestral File (release 2.0) is available in versions for MS-DOS computers, Apple computers, and CP/M computers."
  19. ^ R. Scott Lloyd, "Family history data can now be submitted on computer diskette", Church News, July 16, 1988: "Named 'Release 2.1' to distinguish it from earlier versions of the Personal Ancestral File, Releases 1.0 and 2.0, which are no longer available,"
  20. ^ R. Scott Lloyd, "Upgraded software soon available for home-computer genealogy", Church News, November 18, 1989: "For now, Release 2.2 is only available in a version for MS-DOS (IBM-compatible) computers."
  21. ^ "Upgraded Personal Ancestral File available", Church News, January 8, 1994: "Release 2.3 of the program, for MS-DOS computers"
  22. ^ PAF 2.3 Still Has Problems! - THE LIVERMORE ROOTS TRACER - VOLUME XIII AUTUMN 1994 NUMBER 5 - Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society "Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Release 2.3 is no longer being offered or distributed by the Family History Department of LDS. There are some known "bugs" that they are still trying to fix."
  23. ^ Personal Ancestral File 5 Tips and Tricks Archived 2010-03-27 at the Wayback Machine - Family History Conference Class Handout - By:Kevin Owen - 25 October 2008 - Brigham Young University - Idaho
  24. ^ "Personal Ancestral File for Macs - Selected FAQ". Archived from the original on 2012-02-11. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  25. ^ "Church releases new PAF version for computers", Church News, June 7, 1997: "A new DOS version of Personal Ancestral File 3.0"
  26. ^ "Newest PAF version available on Internet", Church News, July 10, 1999: "Personal Ancestral File 4.0 was made available on the Internet service on June 28, just five weeks after the service's launch."
  27. ^ Ancestral Quest - Program Description - PAF Compatibility - "NOTE 1: In 1999, Incline Software donated a copy of the source code for Ancestral Quest 3.0 to the LDS Church. The LDS Church then used this code as a base for creating PAF 4 and PAF 5. This is part of the reason why the two programs are so compatible."
  28. ^ FAQS - "Is there a relationship between PAF and Ancestral Quest? - In 1999, Incline Software, with some strategic help from its partners, helped the LDS Church develop PAF 4 based on the newly released AQ 3.0. Both PAF 4 and the newer PAF 5 are therefore very similar to AQ. Since 1999, while the LDS Church has developed adjustments and new features into PAF, Incline Software has also develop dramatic new features into AQ." - Incline Software
  29. ^ a b "Software upgrade makes names easier to submit to temple", Church News, March 24, 2001: "PAF 5.0 was recently updated to accept most of the world's alphabets and now has screens in and prints reports in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Swedish and German."
  30. ^ PAF 5.0 - Dick Eastman Online 1/3/2001 "Languages and Cultures. The biggest change in PAF 5 is that you can type and store characters from many of the world's languages. Not only can you record information in your own language, but you can also type characters from the languages of any of your ancestors. Technically, the database has been redesigned to accommodate all Unicode data."- Archive -
  31. ^ "Key new features now on PAF 5.0", Church News, June 16, 2001: "Key new features include a Palm OS application".
  32. ^ GedStar and MyRoots, Can You Have It All in One Palm OS Handheld Database? Archived 2011-07-28 at the Wayback Machine By Janet Brigham Rands, From The PAFinder, June 2002, GedStar is so similar to PAF for Palm in design and navigation that it appears more like a sibling than a kissin' cousin.
  33. ^ Palm OS Genealogy Viewers, Genealogical Computing, 2003/1/10 - Archive, October/November/December 2003 Vol 23 No. 2, After my last review, some may have wondered why I did not review the free PAF for Palm product. It is equivalent to the older GedStar 3.1, but has not been upgraded since, to my knowledge.
  34. ^ GedStar Version 4.0, Dick Eastman Online, 4/18/2001 - Archive,
  35. ^ GedStar, GHCS Legacy Products Home
  36. ^ "Updated PAF 5.2 available", Church News, August 10, 2002.

External links[edit]