Microsoft Access Genealogy Database Template

This free template lets you create your own genealogy database

Tree with photographs as leaves
John Lund/Getty Images

Are you interested in tracing your family roots but don’t have a good place to store all of your genealogical information? While there are several full-featured family tree software packages on the market, you can also use a free Microsoft Access template to create your own genealogy database on your computer. Microsoft’s already done most of the work for you, so there is no programming knowledge needed to get started.

Microsoft Access

If you don’t already have Microsoft Access installed on your computer, you’ll need to get a copy. Access is part of the Microsoft Office suite, so you may already have it installed on your computer and not know it. If you don’t have Access, you can purchase it online or from any computer store. The Microsoft Genealogy template will run on any version of Microsoft Access from Access 2003 onward.

Using the genealogy database template doesn’t require any special knowledge of Access or databases. However, you might find it helpful to take our Access tour to learn your way around the program before getting started.

Download and Install the Template

Your first task is to visit the Microsoft Office community site and download the free genealogy database template. Save it to any location on your computer where you’ll remember it.

The link to the Microsoft Genealogy Database Template is a direct download — this means when you click the link, the file will automatically download to your computer. If you have trouble locating it, try searching in your Download folder.

Once you have the file on your computer, double-click on it. The software will then walk you through extracting the files needed to run the database to a folder of your choice. We recommend creating a Genealogy folder in the My Documents section of your computer to make it easy to find these files again.

After extracting the files, you’ll be left with a database file with a funny name, something like 01076524.mdb. Feel free to rename it if you wish to do something more friendly. Go ahead and double-click on this file and it should open in the version of Microsoft Access running on your computer.

When you first open the file, you may see a warning message. This will depend on the version of Access you’re using and your security settings, but it will read something like “Security Warning: Some active content has been disabled. Click for more details.” Don’t worry about this. The message is just telling you that the template you’ve downloaded contains custom programming. You know this file came directly from Microsoft, so it’s safe to click the Enable Content button to get started.

Explore the Database

You’ll now have the Microsoft Genealogy database ready to use. The database will open with the menu shown in the photo above. It has several options:

  • View Database Instructions
  • Add New Individuals
  • View Individual Data
  • Import Genealogy Data (GED file)
  • Add New Families
  • View Families Data
  • View Families Report

We encourage you to spend some time getting familiar with the database structure and exploring each of these menu items.

Add and View Individuals

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the database, return to the Add New Individuals menu item. Clicking it opens a form that will offer you the opportunity to enter information about one of your ancestors. The database form includes the following characteristics:

  • Full Name
  • Given Name
  • Surname
  • Birth Date and Location
  • Death Date and Location
  • Comments
  • Parents
  • Spouse(s)
  • Children

You can enter as much information as you have and use the comments field to keep track of sources, avenues for future research, or questions about the quality of the data you’re maintaining.

Once you’ve added individuals to your database, you may use the View Individuals menu item to browse their records and make updates and corrections to the data you’ve entered.

Create Families

Of course, genealogy isn’t just about individuals, it’s about family relationships! The Add New Families menu option allows you to enter information about family relationships that you’d like to track in your genealogy database.

Backup Your Database

Genealogical research is a tremendous amount of fun and involves a great deal of research that often yields large quantities of information. It’s important that you take precautions to ensure that the information you gather is protected from loss.

There are two things you should do to protect the information stored in your family history database.

  • First, you should regularly back up your Microsoft Access database. This creates an extra copy of your database file and protects you in case you accidentally delete it or make a mistake in your data entry that you would like to undo.
  • Second, you should store a copy of your database somewhere else. You might choose to copy it to a USB drive that you keep at a relative’s house or in a safe deposit box.

Alternatively, you can use one of the automated online backup services to protect your information easily.