A computer is only as helpful as you allow it to be. Remember a computer after all is only a machine and will only work with what you put on it and tell it to do. It is a myth that most home computers really do have minds of their own. I have found they can be either a friend or a foe.
Don’t feel that you need to load your computer with every new program that comes along. Find one that you feel comfortable with,that accommodates the things you want to accomplish and learn to use that program well before incorporating another program into your genealogy system of useable programs.
You will find that there are many programs and online databases that will work take care of your genealogy needs. I would recommend that you always think first and act second (unless of course you are at a genealogy seminar and there are so many good features on that new program being discussed). Before purchasing any program to fill your genealogy needs make a list or your goals, what you want to accomplish and for what purpose am I saving my records.
I have found a few helpful hints over the years that have helped with my genealogy computing and so I would make the following suggestions:
A good word program
A good word program can be used to create research logs, documentation note on both connected family members but also on families who may be related but don’t yet into your family tree. Such programs can cut down on the amount of paper in your family file and be more interesting to future generations. However be aware of proper documentation techniques and the use of scanning so that everything is typed or will exactly as it was on the original document. These programs can also be used to create to do lists, stories, and for journal writing. The usefulness of a good word program is only as useful as your creative thoughts will allow it to be.
A good genealogy database can easily store your family in an organized manner. Be sure to put documentation and scanned images either with your notes or with your documentation. With these programs you can print family group sheets, pedigrees, lists, family stories, web pages, and family books. I have found it useful to keep two data bases on my various family lines. 1 database which has documentated information in it and a second which I call the x-files. These databases are a holding ground for names and indivuals which need to still be given a standard of proof or an I’m just not sure how this name fits in but it in the same area with the same name and the right ages to be somehow connected with my people.
Many databases now allow you to add pictures of original documents, or family photographs. Remember that scanned in images take up a lot of memory and time to organize but the ultimate outcome is well worth the work.
A great deal of research can now be done on the internet. However remember that what you find on the internet is usually some type of transcription. It has been said that only 5% of all information is on the computer when it comes to the field of genealogy so you should still verify with the original document whenever possible and understand the value of visiting a library.
Family Data Based Programs
There are many family data based programs available and we all have our favorite so I am only going to list a few of the many programs available.
Family Tree Maker: Advantages: Compiled databases on CD’s, internet browser, good printing capabilities, the ability to add pictures, User Friendly, internet browser, prints many different reports. Imports and exports well. Prints many different reports. Imports and exports well. It has had some problems with accepting gedcoms from other programs. Not my favorite.
Legacy: Advantages: internet browser, good printing capabilities, the ability to add pictures and maps User Friendly, internet browser, prints many different reports. Imports and exports well. Prints many different reports. Imports and exports. The newer versions work well with Family search and is a good program to meet the needs of the average genealogist.
Personal Ancestral File: Free download, offered by familyserach.org. It is a good program for the genealogist who isn’t interested in doing much more than storing their database. The program is very user friendly and has the ability to add pictures, imports and exports well. Disadvantage: Very short on line manual. Although it still has technical support available it is no longer being upgraded. I have used this program for years but I am also learning to switch all my data over to a new database. PAF no longer offers the features I need and use.
Family Insight: A great program to add if you are sticking to PAF. Family Insight allows you to use your paf files with new.familysearch. It also is great for editing name places and tracking your LDS ordinance submittals.
Roots magic: Has all the bells and whistles offered by Legacy and family tree maker. It also was awarded the best program to sync with new.familysearch data in 2009. Converts your data from other programs into a useable readable database with very little work. Very user friendly and a great program to work with.
To be honest I have Legacy, Family Insight, PAF, and Roots magic on my computer. Partly because I give instruction on how to use the various programs but also like many I am not quite sure I am ready to convert all my documents over to another program yet. Hands down my favorite is Roots magic. It accomplishes the goals that I have set for myself in my genealogy world. I know others who swear by Legacy and still others who won’t do anything outside of PAF and Family Insight. The decision as to which database and word program to use is up to you. The excitement is trying them all on a free trial basis and then determining which one best fits your needs.
Remember when it comes to genealogy no answer is correct only different.
- Kat's Mountain Genealogy
- I am a genealogy enthusiast with over 40 years of experience in assisting others complete their family trees. I love helping others complete their own personal ancestory. I specialize in Research and Data Entry with an emphasis on Southern Research. I am vailable for Lectures on numerous topics and am always open to creating a class on a new Subject. I am a Member of the DAR, the DUP and Acting Vice President of the SCGA