Earlier this month, Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings published his top ten list of genealogy tools and asked his fellow bloggers what their own lists would include. Randy’s post made me consider my own genealogy toolbox and question what I consider to be the most valuable tools at my disposal. Here is what I came up with (in no particular order):
1). Legacy Family Tree 7.5 - Legacy is the genealogy program that I have been using since the day I started researching. I have no complaints about it – the basic version is free, it’s easy to use, and it compiles various types of reports with little effort made by the user. I spend anywhere from an hour to eight hours a day inside this program.
2). Digital Camera - I’ve already admitted that I’m a bit of a shutterbug, so it shouldn’t be surprising that a digital camera makes my list. My camera goes along with me to cemeteries, to meet long lost relatives, and to all family oriented functions. I view my camera as a way of documenting the present for generations yet to come.
3). Scanner/Printer - I use my scanner/printer at least once a day. How wonderful is it to be able to print out excerpts of websites that give pertinent information on what one is researching? I shudder to think how much ink and paper I have used over the years. If the printer is wonderful – then the scanner is nothing short of amazing. It has allowed relatives to share family bibles, photos, and historic documents over great distances. It has enabled genealogists to protect and back up vast collections of photos. It is undeniably one of the greatest gifts the genealogy community has ever received and I cannot imagine what research was like before it existed.
4). iPhone – How much do I love my iPhone? So much that I’m not sure if life would continue to move forward without it. I use my iPhone for EVERYTHING. I can check my email, update my genealogy notes on Evernote, work on WordPress, access my Ancestry family tree, read blog feeds on Feeddler, use GPS to locate local cemeteries, access Find-A-Grave while searching for tombstones, take pictures, record interviews, and a dozen other things by simply pulling out my phone.
5). Photoshop – Genealogists are constantly running across old, faded, discolored, and cracked photos. With a little work in a program like Photoshop – a genealogist can clearly reveal what a great-great grandparent once looked like. A photo editing program can help turn a ruined photo into a family treasure that can be appreciated for years to come.
6). Nook – My Nook is just as handy as my iPhone and I can usually be spotted with one or the other technologies in my hand. I use the Nook to download and read PDFs, to read genealogy ebooks, access certain Apps (Evernote, Ancestry, Cozi, and WordPress), and most often as a way to research without being forced to spend even more time in front of my computer.
7). WordPress – I spend a great deal of time in my WordPress dashboard. I am constantly writing, editing, deleting, or updating something here on The Sanford Family Misfit. I would guess that I spend two hours a day on the website and on certain days a lot more.
8). Snapfish – I use Snapfish quite a bit. Snapfish offers unlimited storage of your photos for free (they do occasionally ask you to make a purchase for the continued storage of your files). I use it to store/back-up all of my photos, purchase copies of photos, share my photo collection with close family members, and even to store jpeg copies of genealogy related documents.
9). Email Account – Email is a glorious thing and I’m not sure my genealogy research could continue without it. People constantly contact me through email after running across my name on Ancestry, Find-A-Grave, or Genforum. Those who contact me are usually seeking my help in their research and by giving it – I’m usually rewarded with a bit of information that helps further my own.
10). Organized File Cabinet – It may sound a little “old school,” but I don’t think I could live without my file boxes. How would any genealogist continue to function if they didn’t have a place to store all those copies of wills, deeds, birth certificates, and death certificates? I know most of my paper copies would be destroyed, lost, or end up in the trash if I didn’t have a place to store them all.
There you have it – my top ten genealogy tools. I guess the only thing left to do is pass Randy’s question off to all of you: what are your top ten genealogy tools?