Supported Conversions

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Supported File Conversions

Stop Press 2012/13: the utility is only useful now only for the CD-Rom products published by the LDS (all now discontinued), and for files previously downloaded from the Old FamilySearch website - since downloading of Gedcom files has been dropped from New FamilySearch and now seems unlikely to be restored. Please bear all this in mind when reading the rest of this page.

Depending on which of the LDS databases you are using, you are presented with a variety of "export" or "download" options.

The table below indicates which download formats LDS Companion can convert. A 'YES' indicates that the format exists and can be converted using the program. A 'NO' indicates that the format exists but cannot be converted with the program. A blank cell indicates that the download format is not available from the LDS database in question.

Name of
Name of
Download Format
Gedcom ASCII Text Rich Text
Old FamilySearch
VRI (Scandinavia, Mexico) YES    
Social Security Death Index YES    
Ancestral File NO    
Census Indexes:
1881 British YES    
1880 United States YES    
1881 Canadian YES    
New FamilySearch
No download files currently available.
[on CD-Rom, at LDS Family History centres]
Scottish Church Records YES YES  
Ordinance Index YES YES  
Social Security Death Index YES YES  
Ancestral File NO    
US Military Index NO NO  
Family History
Resource Files

[on CD-Rom, for use at home]
Census Indexes:
1851 British 3-County   YES  
1881 British YES1 YES2 YES
1880 United States YES1 YES2 YES
1881 Canadian YES1 YES2 YES
Vital Records Indexes:
British (1st & 2nd edns.) YES   YES
North American YES   YES
Middle America - Mexico YES   YES
Western Europe YES   YES
Scandinavian YES   YES
Australian   YES  
1 With Resource File Viewer v3.0 or later
2 Extracted from the 'Neighbors' pane, via the Windows clipboard

For more information on these products and exactly what they cover, see LDS Resources.

File Formats

Here's some more detail on the download formats listed in the table above:


Gedcom (GEnealogical Data COMmunication) is a standard interchange format specified by the LDS Church and used by many genealogical packages, notably PAF (Personal Ancestral File) which was also developed by the LDS Church. It is not a format that is designed to be read or printed out, but is intended for transfer to other programs. Gedcom files from FamilySearch and the British/US Vitals Records Indexes have very predictable formats that LDS Companion can understand. It cannot deal with Gedcom files from other systems.

ASCII 'Text'

'Text' files are readable with a normal text editor or word-processing package, but the precise layout of these files varies according to which LDS product is being used - e.g. FamilySearch Text download files are different from Family History Resource download files. Text files generated by the IGI are designed as print image files, i.e. a copy of the information that would have been printed on paper if you had chosen to do so. It contains elaborate header and footer information, page feed characters etc. Also, each parish register entry is split across two or three lines in the file, which makes it awkward to read into a standard database package for further manipulation. Text files from the 1851 Census Index and the Australian Vital Records Index are slightly different in format, but can also be read by the program.

Rich Text (RTF)

This is a special word-processing format that can only be read by modern word processing packages and is not primarily designed for import to a database or spreadsheet. A typical RTF files contains many 'tag strings', each prefixed with the backslash character (\), which describe the desired text-formatting characteristics. It is the main output format supported by the latest Family History Resource File databases. LDS Companion treats each format equally, and tries to extract the maximum amount of useful information from each file type. It then converts the data to your choice of output file - database, spreadsheet or ASCII Text (CSV/Fixed) format.


Here are a few things that LDS Companion won't do....

Reading direct from CD-Roms

Firstly, the program can't read data directly from the Vital Records and Census CD-Roms. Why Not? Because this data is in a proprietary format that only the LDS's own search programs can understand. So you need first to export the data you need using their search software - the Resource File Viewer in the case of their more recent products. There are various ways of achieving this, and these are described in the user guide supplied with LDS Companion.

Gedcom files etc from non-LDS index sources

Finally, the program cannot deal with files that don't originate from LDS indexes. Thus it won't read Gedcom files from family history programs like Family Tree Maker, or Rich Text format files saved from other programs such as Word 97. This is because, although Gedcom and RTF (terms defined below) are "standards", the way in which they are used varies. From supported Gedcoms, LDS Companion can often extract more information than other family history programs and utilities. The down side is that it can't be used for just any Gedcom file.

Raw Data

Finally, apart from a few sample files, there is no raw data included. For IGI data, you need either to download from the internet or to copy to disk at one of the many LDS Family History Centres. If you're interested in the various vital records and census products, you can generally purchase them directly from the LDS Church for use at home.

29 March 2013

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