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More GEDCOM Archaeological Discoveries - Wed, 31 Dec 2014

Interesting events! Yesterday, Bob Coret realized that there were two versions of GEDCOM 5.5. Bob wrote on his Google Plus account yesterday:

I compared the grammar published in the #GEDCOM 5.5 LDS/PDF ("2 January 1996") version to one in the #GEDCOM 5.5 McBride/HTML ("Revised 10 January 1996") version and found several differences, some small, some big!

And then he posted on his blog: Which GEDCOM 5.5 grammer is correct?

Supposedly there was an “Errata sheet” that includes the corrections that would descript the differences in the two version. The problem was, there was no such Errata sheet to be found anywhere on the Internet.

Looking through the GEDCOM-L maillist archives, it was apparent that this Errata Sheet was only sent to a few people. Tamura Jones, in an email about this yesterday found this reference in the GEDCOM-L maillist archives from Brian Madsen in 1996:


From what I can tell, Brian Madsen was one of the developers of a DOS program called Genealogical Information Manager. It still has a website up at www.gimsoft.com, although the page was last updated on 11 Jul 2000 (over 14 years ago). Who knows if GIM still works, but none-the-less, I still list GIM on GenSoftReviews.

So there was someone who had it! Or least someone who had it over 18 years ago. I thought I’d follow that up and found a more recent email address for Brian Madsen (from 4 years ago) and sent him out an email.

To my great pleasure and surprise, he emailed me back and said:

Boy, talk about a blast from the past.  I had to go digging through an old file drawer in the back of a closet that hasn’t been opened in a long time.


He sent me a scan of the two Errata pages, which I’ve now converted into a pdf document and have sent to Bob and Tamura.

And yet another bonus:  Brian said he also has, on paper, a GEDCOM 3.0 spec dated 9 October 1987, and a GEDCOM 5.0 spec dated 31 December 1991. He said that he will, when he gets sufficient time, scan those and send them as well.

So this is really wonderful. Here we have “lost” paper documents that really are archival treasures describing the evolution of GEDCOM, that are finally being resurrected. They feel like papyrus documents, but really they are just 18 to 27 years old. We finally are doing our duty and preserving this important history.

The final tabulation now of what has been found in the past few months:

Pretty awesome!

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  1. Which GEDCOM 5.5 grammar is correct? - Blog Coret in English - Bob Coret : Thu, 1 Jan 2015
    "... Louis Kessler got in contact with Brian Madsen who had the Errata Sheet (on paper) and scanned it, read all about it in Louis' blogpost More GEDCOM Archaeological Discoveries. ..."

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