Sunday, March 11, 2012

Getting Down to the Basics

More musings as I continue to think deep thoughts. The really good news is my husband will be home tomorrow and I'll rejoin the real world and actually do things rather than think.

Anyway, I really need to figure out just what I want my genealogy database software to do for me. It's got nothing, I repeat nothing to do with what "kind" of researcher I am. The software is a simply a tool. Right now it's not a very good one. I'm hoping that's because I haven't really thought through why I use it.

I inherited a Family Tree Maker database from my parents who took all the notes and charts my grandmother, aunts and other family historians had made, wrote letters to all their cousins asking for current information and entered all that data into the program. Heroic work that I truly appreciate for I am not a fan of data entry.

I spent several years validating their data, first using sources I had gathered in my own research and then using the online resources that were becoming available.

Since then I've been focused on two projects: researching those individuals or families that I could not document and digitizing the boxes of papers handed down to me. I haven't found any genealogy database software particularly useful for these projects.

So, an open-ended question for all you genealogy software users out there (especially the non-pro family types): What is it you use the program for? Specifics, I beg of you. As in -

  • I use it because I like the lineage reports it produces.
  • I like to keep track of my research and it's the best way I've found because it allows me to........
  • I collaborate with other researchers and it's a program that we all use.
  • I like the family tree structure it provides.
  • I love linking media to individuals in the tree.
  • I use it to produce GEDCOM files I can upload or share.
  • My family loves the charts and reports I share with them.
  • I use it to generate HTML pages for my website.
  • I use it because it does internet searches or links with for searches.
  • I use it to keep track of my sources materials and write citations. 
  • I prefer entering information into a database. It's more organized that way.

There must be hundreds of other reasons. I really want to know. I must be missing something here and could use some guidance.  So let me know.

Why do you use a genealogy database program?

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by Ninja M.