Tag Archives: record-keeping

The Best Genealogy Software

genealogy software programs

A screenshot of Rootsmagic for my own family tree. Click to enlarge for more detail.

I know that some people prefer the traditional paper format to keep track of their genealogy research, but the practice of using software has become a little more the norm. But if you are new to the field or are looking to make a change, how do you know which programs are worth looking into?

I’m not going to do full reviews on all of these, but there is a quick intro into the main genealogy software programs that are popular right now. Just remember that they all basically offer the same fundamental features and are going to have a lot in common. But it can be the style of interface or certain extras that makes one better for you than another. Take advantage of any free trials to get the idea of what each program offers before you take the plunge. (more…)

01 May 2013

Tiny Tafel Reports

A typical family tree can have thousands of names, dates and places in it which can make it a little cumbersome to keep all the data conveniently listed for quick use. Different types of charts and tables are common in genealogy, including the compact Tiny Tafel report. Most genealogy software programs will generate these for you as they are not usually something you make up yourself.

The nature of the Tiny Tafel report is a summary of surnames in your list of ancestors, and though it works better with a computer, it can be handy for you as a person too. It shows you the date range where your various surnames are found. So if you had such a list with you at a library, you’d be able to see immediate what dates you should be concerned with. (more…)

15 Mar 2013

Getting Started in Genealogy

starting genealogy studies

Getting started with genealogy

By Terri Paajanen

You’re getting interested in finding out more about your family tree, your ancestors and all things genealogical? That’s great. So now where do you begin?

The very first step for getting started in genealogy is record what you already know. That makes your foundation. Take notes with printed pedigree sheets or start using a software program. Fill in all the names and dates that you already know. Even if you don’t immediately know the years of your relatives births, at least record the month and day if you know it. Basically, everything and anything. (more…)

11 Feb 2013

Back Up Your Data

how to back up genealogy files

Computers can have problems, so back everything up!

After all that hard work to build your family tree and collect your ancestor’s heritage, don’t put it at risk due to some unexpected computer problems. Of course, those of us who are keeping our genealogy data on paper have a little less to worry about and this won’t apply quite the same way. But anyone with their research on a computer could face heartbreak in a moment when your hard drive crashes. And it can happen with no notice whatsoever. Trust me.

Doing data back ups is common enough and most genealogy software programs will let you create a secondary back up file every time you use it. But that usually just makes another file of your data that sits elsewhere on your computer, in case you accidentally delete a family line or something. It’s still in danger from any overall computer failures.


25 Dec 2012

Ahnentafel Charts

I use these charts frequently here on the site as a lovely and compact way of sharing a line of ancestry for certain people. It’s easier to manage than a drawn out pedigree chart that graphically links parents and children or a full family group sheeet. So if you’re seeing these ahnentafel charts around, you’ll want to make sure you understand them.

These charts are great to hold dozens of generations in a simple numbered list. It only holds direct ancestors for one specific person. The term “ahnentafel” is German for “ancestor table” if the name intrigued you. (more…)

16 Dec 2012

Pedigree Charts

To follow with my ongoing organizational theme, here is the second of those basic genealogy forms that you will want to have on hand to keep your records on track: pedigree charts.

The family group sheets from last week, organize your information as a series of family groups. Alternatively, the pedigree chart follows your direct ancestral line (parents, grand-parents etc), and looks like your usual family tree format, with pairs of branches leading from one person over the generations. Siblings, cousins, aunts, or uncles are not listed, just parentage. Various formats will give you space to note down birth and death dates, and possibly more. (more…)

15 Dec 2012

Family Group Sheets

On another page, I discuss how to  organize your documents. So I really should give you the proper forms you need to follow my ideas. These are the family group sheets that I use to create an index on the front of each of my folders.

Unlike the tree-shaped pedigree charts, these forms are used to document one entire family rather than show a lot of connection with your other ancestors. They have the father and mother featured at the top, with their parents indicated. Then all of their children are listed below. (more…)

15 Dec 2012

Getting Organized

A never-ending topic for genealogists, how to deal with all the notes, files and papers that quickly accumulate when you are doing your family tree research.

Keeping track of the information itself isn’t that difficult, especially if you are using a good genealogy software program. If you’re not, it’s still reasonable to organize your family tree with pedigree charts and family group forms.

But what will soon take over your desk and your life, isn’t the information itself, but all the paper. Newspaper clippings, all kinds of certificates, letters, photos, maps and more photocopies than you can shake a stick at. It’s the documentation that will bury you. (more…)

15 Dec 2012