google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Armchair Genealogist: August 2017

What is the Best Genealogy Software?

I get asked this question all the time. My answer is always the same…it depends. It depends on you, your skills, and what you are looking for in a genealogy software program.

But how do you know what you are looking for in a software program if you’ve never used one before? It’s like buying any major purchase in your life, your first home, your first car, you don’t know what works for you until ten years into your first home, and you realise some things just don’t jive with your lifestyle. You find yourself shopping for a new home. It’s a learning curve.

We often purchase software early on in our research journey generally for organising and preserving our research. It’s usually not until we are further into our research that we begin to look for more from our program and realise the software we purchased isn’t capable, and we start to consider other options. Now replacing your genealogy software isn’t as expensive as replacing your house but it still can be an inconvenience.

Let’s look at some of the important features we should contemplate before choosing our first genealogy software program. Determine which of these items on the list are important to you and start by comparing those items between the various programs.

Charting - Look for software that can chart your family tree. Charts and forms can vary widely between programs from 4 charts to 25 charts. If charts and forms are important to you, then you’ll want to compare this feature.

Audio – What are the audio capabilities? Can the program save an oral interview or audio notes?

Video - Can your software store a video recording of say perhaps an interview or family event?

Share with others – Is it important to be able to sync your information with your online tree or share with another genealogist? A feature not all programs are capable of performing.

Connect to the web – Can you log in to the web from within the program?

Import online sources-  Do you want to import online sources to your program?

Web hints – Some programs will offer you hints from the internet. Is this important to you?

Same-Sex Marriages - While all the programs can handle multiple marriages they cannot all handle same-sex marriages. Is this important for you?

DNA results – A growing aspect of our genealogy research you may want a program that allows you to record DNA markers allowing you to map and hone in on where your ancestors came from.

Automatic Age Display – This is a convenient feature. Not all programs offer it in which case you’ll have to do the math.

World Map – Some programs allow you to plot family events on a world map. This can be a nice visual feature you may want in your software.

Privacy options – Genealogy software programs can offer a variety of privacy options.  It is important to you spend some time comparing the privacy options in each program.

Citation and Organization – One thing they all got right is offering proper citation and organisation, they should, since this is at the heart of genealogy software programs. You generally shouldn’t have to worry about this feature.

Video Tutorials – I love software that offers video tutorials. I hate reading a manual. If I can view a video that is a couple of minutes long and shows me how to use a feature, then that is an asset in my book.

Identifies Problems – I appreciate a program that is smarter than me and points out inconsistent information, date errors or duplications.

Must-Haves and Deal Breakers
My program isn’t necessarily the right software program for you.  We all have different needs, and you want to identify your needs. There are some features I don’t care about while others are deal breakers for me. Consider the list above, which features on the list are must-haves for you, which ones are deal breakers. This should help you narrow in on the program that’s right for you.

Ask a Fellow Genealogist
Finally, ask a fellow genealogist what they are using. What do they like about the program and what do they dislike. You’ll find some genealogists who have been researching for awhile have tried several different programs.

I don’t recommend you inquiry because what your friend uses is the best, but because you can ask them specific questions about the program. What they like and dislike about the program.  Do there likes and dislikes align with yours or perhaps their dislikes don’t bother you. It pays to inquire around.

Keep in mind genealogy software companies offer upgrades on a regular basis, they are always improving and adding new features.  What may not be included as a feature today could be provided in the next update.

The more knowledge you have before making your genealogy software purchase, the more likely you’ll be happy with your choice and less likely to have to go shopping for a new program further into your research journey.

Cooking Up Content: 50 Writing Ideas to Feed Your Genealogy Blog

It’s hard keeping a blog engaging and entertaining on a regular basis. It’s like trying to think about what’s for dinner tonight. I don’t mind cooking, but sometimes you just want someone to give you an idea of what to make. After years of cooking for the family, you're just plain tired of coming up with the ideas.

Today’s post is here to help you with blog post ideas to help you flesh out your editorial calendar for your family history blog. I hope it helps you to keep the creative juices going.  We all need a little inspiration from time to time. Psst. If you don’t have a blog start a family history journal. A private journal where you can capture your thoughts about your research and your ancestors even if you're not ready to serve them up to the general public just yet. 

  1. Write about a genealogy travel experience, a trip to ancestral hometown, archives, or a cemetery. Make it descriptive and take us on the journey with you.
  2. Write about a genealogy mistake you made. We’ve all have them. Share your mistake.
  3. Write about a strong female you’ve discovered in your genealogy research. What makes her strong and why does she appeal to you.
  4. Write about a family secret. Even if you can’t share the secret, see if you can write about it without actually revealing the secret but instead express your opinion on family secrets and how it affects your genealogy research.
  5. Write about your organisational system or lack there of, ask for advice from others.
  6. Write profiles of your ancestors. (Check out our profile writing course in September)
  7. Share the story of an ancestor who served in a war. Is there one ancestor that stands out. Or perhaps you can do a round up of them all.
  8. Tell the tale of two siblings, how did their lives move in different directions.
  9. Share a story of an ancestor who chose religious life.
  10. Did an ancestor live through a natural disaster? Share their story?
  11. Share a recipe that has been handed down through your family.
  12. Do you have an ancestor who won any sports awards? Tell their tale.
  13. Share the story of an ancestor who was involved in politics.
  14. Who are the entrepreneurs in your family history? Share their stories.
  15. Take your reader back in time to the dinner table of your ancestor.  Make sure you use all five senses to bring that table to life for the reader.
  16. Invite your reader to attend your ancestor’s wedding. Bring it to life on the page for them with rich detail.
  17. Which ancestor confuses you the most and why?
  18. Who among your ancestor’s was the first to attend high school? University?
  19. Share your most recent conference trip.
  20. Interview a fellow genealogist.
  21. Review your favourite genealogy tool
  22. Write a post on how genealogy has changed since you began your research.
  23. Which ancestor is your biggest brick wall? Ask readers for their advice.
  24. Write a post about your favourite genealogy resources.
  25. Write a post about your favourite genealogy blogs.
  26. Share how your ancestor celebrated the holidays. Christmas. New Years. Easter. Etc.
  27. Share a presentation you attended with your local genealogy group. Highlight what you learned.
  28. Which ancestor do you feel most like? Why?
  29. Share your genealogy goals for the upcoming year.
  30. Interview your oldest living relative, change it up, maybe make it a podcast!
  31. Share the story of a couple in your research who you feel represent marriage well. Or did it badly. 
  32. Recruit a family member or fellow genealogist to write a blog post for you.
  33. Share your recent family reunion and advice you have for others who are planning one.
  34. Recreate the experience of one of your immigrant ancestors’ travel to the new world.
  35. Do you have an ancestor who died young? Speculate on what their life might have been like.
  36. Recreate the birth of an ancestor? What would the birthing experience had been like?
  37. Identify an accomplishment in your ancestor’s life. Share how they overcame obstacles to achieve that goal. Tell the story over a series of posts to create suspense for the reader.
  38. Recreate a family recipe, blog about your experience, how it turned out and if the family enjoyed it.
  39. Did any of your ancestors have an unusual occupation? Share what you know about it.
  40. Review a favourite book, either a genealogy reference book or story.
  41. Do you have a scoundrel in the family? Share his or her story?
  42. Is there an ancestor who went from rags to riches or riches to rags? Tell their story.
  43. Share your own memories of an ancestor. How did you spend time with them? Use a description to bring that time to the page and make them real again for the reader.
  44. Share a folklore story that you haven’t been able to prove with research.
  45. Write about the one thing you want your family to know or understand about their ancestors.
  46. What is the one event in your family history that makes you the proudest?
  47. What one event in your family history disappoints you the most?
  48. Share the most romantic story you have come across in your research.
  49. Who is your ancestor hero? The one ancestor you are most proud to be related to. Why?
  50. If you could go back in time and sit down to speak with one ancestor who would it be? Why? What would you ask them?

Do you have a favourite blogging topic you think should be added to this list?