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Using ChatGPT for genealogy

I have a number of printed reports from older genealogy programs that describe a pedigree formatted either as the “Descendants of …” or “Ancestors of …”. These reports are narrative in style and have been automatically geerated in the original program. Here I demonstrate how the OpenAI tool ChatGTP can be used to extract the informaton in the report into a format that can be imported into a Spreadsheet program (e.g. Google Sheets, LibreOffice Calc or Excel) and from there create a Gedcom file to recreate a structured familiy history database.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a conversational AI chatbot created by OpenAI. It is designed to answer questions, provide information, solve a range of problems, and communicate the response back to you in a human-like manner. There has been a lot of neagtive discussion in the media about the use of this tool, by students, for example, to write assignment essays, but the tool does have some potentailly interesting and helpful abilities around translation and text manipulation.

The challenge

Here is a tpical “Descendants of ….” report. Can we extract the genealogical information from it in a structured way?

The process

At it simplest, once you have signed up for a (free) ChatGPT account you are presented with a flashing cursor where you can enter your questions:

Rather than perhaps the inane examples on the ChatGPT page we want this tool to do some heavy lifting for us. In plain English we want ChatGPT to “Reformat the text into a table”. So let’s try just that. In the box at the foot of the screen we enter.

Almost instantly produces the following table.

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