Thursday, March 10, 2011

The -ologies: Genealogy & Technology that is

In my circle of genealogy friends, I am the one people turn to about their technology questions. Maybe it's because I'm almost always the youngest, being under 40 years old, or maybe it's because my husband is a network administrator (a fancy word for computer tech although he focuses on networking). At any rate, here is my 2 cents worth a genealogist should know and do. Most of you probably already know this and try to do it.

1. Have an adequate computer with internet access, a decent digital camera, printer and probably a scanner. You decide what is adequate for you; I prefer a laptop (we recommend a business line). I like Canon PowerShot cameras. Plan to replace your computer and camera every 4-5 years. Printers and scanners usually last longer, maybe 7-10 years.

2. BACK UP, BACK UP, BACK UP! Back up your files every month if you're an avid genealogist to thumb drive, external drive, CD/DVD or online. If you are less dedicated to genealogy, you can probably back up once a quarter (Jan, Apr, July and Sept.).

3. Use a genealogy program. There are several from which to choose. I use The Master Genealogist (available from; the most popular and readily available is probably Family Tree Maker. Others include Roots Magic, Brothers Keeper, Legacy Family Tree, etc. I am sure I forgot some. Some have free downloads either for a set amount of a time or just with a few options. Get comfortable with your program. Know how to import and export a gedcom.

4. Put your tree(s) online. I have had my tree(s) online almost since I started in genealogy. I've been doing this a mere 10 years so the internet has always been available to me. There are a couple sites you can use. I first put my tree on World Connect ( and more recently on I have had many distant relatives contact me this way. It is one of the best ways to meet your distant (or even not so) distant cousins. I found my SECOND cousin this way, realized we lived a mere 2 hours away from each other and we met in person a while later.

5. Use social media, find some genealogy friends. Use Facebook or Twitter to find genealogy friends and follow more "famous" genealogists. Genealogists are very helpful by nature. Check your local library or newspaper to see if there are local meetings you can attend. Attend a state or regional conference if your budget and schedule allows. Start a blog!

6. ORGANIZE! This is the one where I'm probably the worst. Use file folders to organize your genealogy files. I have pictures organized by cemetery or family, and most other files by family. Then it's much easier to back up, just copy that file and paste it over each time.

7. Have at least 2 email addresses. You may want to use a separate email address for genealogy, or you may want to organize your emails into folders. There are several sites that have free email, such as Yahoo, Gmail, etc. Make sure to check your spam folder regularly.

8. Use bookmarks/favorites to save sites. You can also make a genealogy folder in your favorites to separate these. Some of my general favorites are,, and (especially the SSDI part).

That's all I can think of for now. I'm sure others will think of more. Feel free to comment.
Happy searching!

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