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American & European Family Forest Odyssey Edition

by Steve Johnson
June 16, 2001

The American & European Family Forest Odyssey Edition is the 6th edition of a database product containing information extracted from a variety of historical, genealogical, and biographical reference books, and then weaved together into a family tree. The publishers of Family Forest provided me with a pre-release version for this review.

Several hundred published sources make up the bibliography of this fascinating product, covering royalty, U.S. Presidents, noted persons, prominent families, and not-so-famous people. It includes people from the present day all the way back to more than 2,000 years ago.

What makes this database interesting is that many of these people have been linked to each other allowing you to navigate through their ancestors and descendants. The makers of Family Forest describe themselves as "tour guides ... digitally connecting the dots of 2,000+ years of professionally recorded paper-based history".

Each person in the database contains at least one fact, such as a date of birth, death, marriage, or some other noted achievement or status. Each fact is supported by bibliographic reference.

Millisecond Publishing Company, the publisher of Family Forest Odyssey Edition, have published other editions of Family Forest, including the Family Forest Millennium Edition, the Presidential Family Forest, the Founders & Patriots Family Forest, the Delaware Family Forest, and the Pittsburgh Family Forest. The new Odyssey Edition combines all these editions and then adds more new information of its own.

Exploring the Family Forest

The Family Group Sheet. Click to enlarge

Family Forest uses Progeny Software's Family Explorer to browse the contents of the database. Family Explorer contains features that allow you to view descendants and ancestors of every person in the database. It's a very cool app. You can click on any person, and get a variety of charts, including their new "hourglass" chart.

The Family Forest comes with a 10-minute introductory tour, which is a set of instructions guiding you through various persons in the database, demonstrating both the vastness of the database as well as the features of Family Explorer.

The tour starts out by viewing the details of Edward Dean Adams, who according to Family Forest, "negotiated a gold deal to avert a U.S. financial crisis".

The tour instructs you to view Adams' descendancy chart, where you click on one of his great-grandchildren, Judith Adams. From there you click on a series of other people, taking you back-and-forth through 1,200 years of ancestral history, from King Alfred the Great of England, to Mary Queen of Scots to our own President George Washington, all of which are connected through marriage or blood. Quite fascinating!

The ancestral chart. Click to enlarge

I tried searching for some names in my wife's ancestry. She is a Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter of Lucina Sayles, who is descended from John Sayles and Mary Williams. Mary was the daughter of Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island. So, I searched for Sayles, and I found the couple of John Sayles and Mary Williams.

Family Forest did not have the entire Sayles descendancy. But, it did show one of their children, Isabel Sayles. So, I followed it along, and it showed that Isabel is a direct ancestor of the Vanderbilts of New York. So, I sat back, and told my wife that not only is she a direct descendant of Roger Williams, but also a distant cousin of the Vanderbilts!


Family Forest contains a bibliography of hundreds of genealogical, historical, and biographical sources. The folks who put together Family Forest mull their way through these sources extracting names, dates, relationships, and facts, storing them into the database, and weaving the relationships together.

A sample of Family Forest's bibliography. Click to enlarge

You'll find sources pertaining to royalty such as, "Britain's Kings And Queens, 63 reigns in 1100 years", by Sir George Bellew. There are sources pertaining to U.S. Presidents such as, "Facts About the Presidents, A Compilation of Biographical and Historical Data, Sixth Edition", by Joseph Nathan Kane. Also included are sources about prominent families such as, "Rockefellers, An American Dynasty", by Peter Collier & David Horowitz, as well as noted persons such as, "Notable American Women. A Biographical Dictionary. Volume II G-O, Volume III P-Z", by Radcliffe College.

Literally speaking, Family Forest represents an extraction of names and facts pulled from hundreds of these sources, stored into a database and weaved together, creating a pedigree-linked genealogical index that serves as historical reference.

Who Should Buy Family Forest?

If you are professional genealogist, it'd be well worth the money to buy Family Forest. In essence, it serves as a genealogical index of hundreds of genealogical, historical, and biographical works, complete with bibliographic references.

If you are not a professional genealogist, you'd still have hours of fun perusing the genealogies of noted persons, and may even discover that you're distantly related to someone famous.

Writers and journalists will find this a useful research aid. If you need to know where President Clinton was born, or the name of Benjamin Franklin's wife, or the names of those who signed the Declaration of Independence, Family Forest can give you the answer.

Librarians might want to consider adding Family Forest to their collection of reference material. It would become a popular item in any Family History Center.


Family Forest does not contain every famous person or family, but it does incorporate a massive amount of information pertaining to the history and genealogy of famous and not-so-famous people.

Family Forest Odyssey Edition can lead you to books and periodicals that you may not otherwise know to buy, rent, or borrow. It also lets you know of a great number of instances where the coverage of two or more books and periodicals link to each other, and thereby increasing the usefulness of each.

Considering the price, you're getting an incredible value of work. Historical, genealogical, and biographical references from hundreds of famous books, indexed, and weaved together genealogically, and annotated with bibliography. You won't find anything else like it anywhere.

Family Forest Odyssey Edition is due to come out this July. Right now, you can purchase any other edition of Family Forest for just $34.95, and then automatically receive the Odyssey Edition at no charge once it is available. The Odyssey Edition includes ALL of the other Family Forest editions, and then some.

Purchase Family Forest from its website at: http://www.familyforest.com.

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