My question is very basic, but I need to make sure of the answer before venturing into a project.

I've looked everywhere for an answer but I can't find anything concrete.

Is the root individual in a Gedcom the first INDI record in the Gedcom, the individual with the lowest ID number or something else?

Update/Edit -

Thanks everyone. I'm beginning work on a project where I'll be importing a Gedcom and reformatting the data to store in a proprietory form. The store will start with the most recent person in the Gedcom, and I was hoping it would be easy to determine that. (By "most recent person" I mean where the Gedcom/tree starts.) But, from comments here and from my further understanding of the format of the Gedcom it's not what I was thinking/hoping. So, I'm going to have to re-think things.

  • Checking the Gedcom v5.5.1 specification there is no root tag. Also checking a couple of my gedcom files there does not seem to be a custom tag indicating the root person. As a result I think that the root person will be defined by the application used if it is other than the first INDI record in the gedcom.
    – Colin
    Aug 29, 2022 at 6:44
  • @Marshall It's hard to tell exactly what you're asking, and the answer may be software-dependent. Are you trying to understand how a specific piece of software creates a GEDCOM, or how a specific piece of software reads in a GEDCOM, or something else? I know the software that I use allows me to specify which individual(s) to include in a GEDCOM that I export.
    – shoover
    Aug 29, 2022 at 20:15

2 Answers 2


I agree with Colin. There is no root individual indication in a Gedcom. You have to provide a way for the user to define what is his/her own root individual directly in your application.


There is a post today on GitHub answering exactly this question of the Gedcom team link to GitHub post the answer there is exactly as I suggested in my comment above.

  • Thanks guys. That was me who asked the same question in Github. I got impatient after a couple of days and posed the question here, too.
    – Marshall
    Aug 29, 2022 at 18:25
  • After seeing the intitial responses perhaps my question should be posed differently. When the GEDCOM is created, is the individual at the starting point of the GEDCOM inserted into the GEDCOM as the first INDI record?
    – Marshall
    Aug 29, 2022 at 18:32
  • You can always amend your original post. It is software dependant in answer to this question. Download the gedcom spec gedcom.io/specifications/ged551.pdf to see.
    – Colin
    Aug 29, 2022 at 20:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.