The Technological Gadgets of Genealogy
by Christine Sievers
Since you are reading this article online, I would guess you have a computer and are somewhat familiar with it. Before computers, genealogy was expensive because of the amount of travel necessary to go to the various record depositories. The computer brings many of these right into your home. But, it would not take long to rack up a lot of expenses in computer gadgets. The purpose of this article is to keep you from getting overwhelmed by the array of products. Here are some basic technological tools most helpful for genealogy.
A Family Tree Software Program
They can run from freeware to shareware to the more expensive commercial brands. Choosing what program to use can get confusing. Two things to remember are your level of experience, both with computers and genealogy, and your budget.
Here are two sites to help you find the right program:
- Louis Kessler's Genealogy Software Links at http://www.lkessler.com/gplinks.shtml provides
excellent links to software, as well as being an easy to use site
- Genealogical Software Report Card at http://www.mumford.ca/reportcard/ is great for in depth, extensive reviews, but is a bit more complicated to use.
The computer was supposed to make us a paperless society. That never happened. You will find tons of things that you will want to print off for your genealogy. Even though, I have entered my data in a genealogy program, I still love to fill out those family work sheets and put them in a binder. Since I do not- yet- have a laptop, these sheets go with me on genealogy trips to archives. So, the next investment I suggest is getting a good printer. You may want to spring for a laser printer, the money you save in ink replacements will quickly be worth it.
A Backup System
An experienced computer user will be well aware of this important step. The Kellogg School of Management has a quick review on backing up your data, Computer Back Up Devices - Backing Up Your PC at http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/kis/fac_staff/backup.htm.
When backing up your genealogy work, I recommend a zip drive or a CD-Read/Write because it is portable. This allows you to have extra copies in case of the unthinkable disasters- flood, fire, etc. Mail copies to your family. That serves two purposes. You can share your work with your family and have a retrievable copy.
I use my scanner as another type of backup system and a way to share my work. Photographs, records, and newspaper articles are just a few things you can scan and save on your zip or CD. If you want to get creative, you can make great gifts using your family tree motif.
There are many other gadgets that are fun and helpful for genealogy. But, these will provide you with a good start. After all, you want to save some money to send for those birth and death records. And, plan that great trip to your ancestors hometown.
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