The GEDCOM Standard Release 5.5: Letter

January 2, 1996

Dear GEDCOM Developer:

This letter accompanies the final version of The GEDCOM Standard, Release 5.5. Thank you for your feedback on preceding drafts, especially 5.4. The number of respondents and the depth of suggestions is greatly appreciated. For the first time, most of the feedback came via email.

Among other things, this release adds comprehensive support for genealogical documentation and formally defines the valid combinations of tags used by lineage-linked form compatible programs.

If you do not plan to read the entire 5.5 release at this time, please take time to study the following sections:

Needed changes that would cause major incompatibilities with prior implementations were postponed until release 6.0, some time in the future. Minor 5.x releases may occur in the interim.

Official, current GEDCOM documents are now available by anonymous ftp at in the directory /pub/genealogy/gedcom . This includes a PostScript and a WordPerfect version of The GEDCOM Standard, a PostScript version of the data model charts, this cover letter, and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ).

All future announcements about GEDCOMwill be sent via email. To subscribe to our announcement list, please send email to, with the word subscribe in the message area. Those already added to the list have been notified by email.

Questions and suggestions may be sent via email to, by regular mail or by telephone as indicated on the title page.

Thank you for your interest in The GEDCOM Standard.


William S. Harten
GEDCOM Product Manager

This release of the GEDCOM Standard contain the following changes which were made subsequent to the release of the standard dated 11 December 1995 and distributed by mail just before Christmas:

Table of Contents:
Encoding and Decoding Algorithms for Multimedia Objects......

Page 5:
The second bullet item concerning the date definition.

Page 58:
The third bullet item concerning Multiple Names.

Page 69:
From the first paragraph.

... To ensure all transmitted information in the Lineage-Linked GEDCOM is uniformly identified the standardized tags cannot be placed in any other context than shown in Chapter 2. It is legal to extend the context of the form, but only by usinguser-defined tags which must begin with an underscore.

Page 77:

A geographical division of a larger jurisdictional area, such as a State within the United States of America.