Since last month, you should have started to collect information that you know about yourself, your siblings, your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc. Placing this information on the free family data sheets that was discussed earlier is a good place to start. However, now it is time for you to put your collected data into a software program.
Why? No one likes to see piles of papers on their desk. Organization and storage of your collection of genealogy information is very easy to accomplish with a software program. You can get a program for FREE. Need I say anymore? Of course, there are software programs that can be purchased. It really depends on your expendable income. Software programs are wonderful for the services that they can provide, and they keep you on track, too. The best software programs include the following: source citation instructions, timelines, family trees, charts, reports, family group sheets, maps, audio and photo storage, and the ability to publish your research. Depending on how many "bells and whistles" you want, the cost go from FREE to about $60.00.
Here are a few that I have researched:
www.bygonessoftware.com Bygones is FREE note keeping system, replacing your papers and forms. No technical support is included with this program. It does not replace lineage-linked programs, but can be used in conjunction with them.
www.legacyfamilytree.com The Legacy standard edition is FREE. The Legacy Deluxe edition is $29.95 downloadable, and contains research guidance and to-do lists, among many other features. Many researchers prefer this program.
www.familysearch.org/eng/paf/pafonline.asp Personal Ancestral File, aka PAF, is FREE, with lessons provided by the Church of the Latter-Day Saints. In my opinion, this is a good place to start if your funds are limited. LDS has free lessons on a wide variety of research topics on their website, too.
www.whollygenes.com The Master Genealogist has Silver and Gold editions. The Silver edition is $34.00 downloadable, and the Gold Edition is $59.00 which includes more charts, output to word processors and HTML web pages, in addition to publication tools.
www.ancquest.com Ancestral Quest is a FREE basic version, or Ancestral Quest 12.1 is $29.95. This program is compatible with PAF listed above.
www.bkwin.org Brother's Keeper has a FREE trial. The registered version is $45.00 and includes a manual. This program is not for MAC users.
www.rootsmagic.com Roots Magic has a basic version for $29.95. However, you can purchase bundles, including Personal Historian and/or Family Atlas which are about $49.00. An additional program, Family Reunion Organizer, is $29.95.
www.clooz.com Clooz is an electronic filing system for genealogy records. Version 2.1 is $39.95
www.familytreemaker.com Family Tree Maker is integrated with Ancestry.com and can be purchased on the Ancestry website. Currently, version 2011 is on sale for $31.96. It has a Windows and a MAC version. This is my personal favorite because it links directly to Ancestry, but also give you the ability to link to other websites, including Genealogy.com, MyFamily.com and Rootsweb.com. It also has an Ancestry Web Dashboard that includes Ancestry Twitter, a direct link to message boards, organizes several family tree files, organizes your source citations, etc.
As you can see, there are so many programs to choose from. There are more than just these programs that I have mentioned here. Do a Google search for family tree software programs. Take a look at what is available for your price range. You will never regret putting your information into a software program. And, your desktop will remain clean!
Next month, we will look at what holes are in your family history information, and how to determine where to start researching for those facts that are missing. Step 3: What Am I Missing? Write Your First Search Plan. Until the beginning of April...happy organizing!