Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Eight 'Gotta Haves' for a Desktop Genealogist

Well, Duh. No, I'm not trying to insult anyone's intelligence, but sooner or later whatever computer you are now using to surf the Web, there will come a day when it needs replaced. Now is the time to start thinking about the features you want the next time you purchase.

All that great information you're finding needs to be recorded somewhere!
If you are thinking about purchasing new genealogy software, TopTenReviews
(http://genealogy-software-review.toptenreviews.com/) has done a side-by-side comparison for 2007 versions of the most well known genealogy programs. Family Tree Maker has just come out with their 2008 model. You can read about it at Family Tree Maker 2008 at http://www.familytreemaker.com/. The Hayes Presidential Center recommends and sells Roots Magic for $29.95 at its gift store, http://www.rbhayes.org/hayes/store/details.asp?did=889.

This has been on my Christmas wish list for the last two years, but something else always beckons. I have an old Sony that is HUGE by today's digital standards and takes a floppy disk — yeah it's that old. But it's great for doing fieldwork at cemeteries. (And our three-year-old grandson likes looking through the viewer, taking out of focus pictures of grandma's left sleeve, and then admiring his clever handy work. But ssshhh, don't tell papa Al - he wouldn't approve.)

My husband purchased a scanner for me a few years back when I needed it for a Christmas project. I can scan, copy, or e-mail with a couple of computer clicks. A real plus to having a scanner has been scanning copies of obituaries, probate records etc. into my computer. The benefit is two-fold. I can easily share the info with other researchers and just as important, I can blow up the image so that I can make out words or phrases that are difficult to read in the actual copy.

Whether it's DSL or cable, a high-speed connection makes looking at online documents much less frustrating. I remember with dial up trying to download a census image — I could make a cup of tea, put in a load of wash and still be drumming my fingers waiting for the image to appear when I returned to my computer.

To be sure, there are other subscription services worthy of consideration, but for my money, Ancestry tops the list. That is not to say I don't have “ISSUES” with the big mac daddy of genealogy database services. But for all that, I have just two things to say — EVERY NAME INDEXED ONLINE CENSUS and WORLD WAR I DRAFT REGISTRATIONS. If, like me, the $299.40 annual price tag is too high for your pocket book (it's ONLY $155.40 for the US deluxe version), the Hayes Presidential Center (http://www.rbhayes.org/hayes/) subscribes to Ancestry's Library Edition. HPC has a DSL connection and in addition to Ancestry, they also have Heritage Quest and Newspaper Archive subscriptions. Seven computer stations make access easy. Computer generated print outs cost $.25 a piece and for $.50 you can purchase a floppy disk to save a census page or any other digital image to take home.

This is one I haven't figured out yet! (Stop laughing Al — I know what the verb “to organize” means!) Here are ideas others have proposed:

Well, there you have it. My top seven things I want for my dream genealogy office. Oh yeah, I said eight. No. 8 IS EASY — as a woman of a certain age, a magnifying glass comes in mighty handy. As my sister recently said to her optometrist, “I've noticed they are making the print a lot smaller now.”

Until next time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, September 18, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online http://www.thenews-messenger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=BLOGS02

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