Genealogy Tips

My top 10 tools for genealogy

James Tanner, on his GenealogyStar blog, wrote the post My Top Ten Genealogy Programs for now on the 14 August 2016.  Randy Seaver on his genea-musings blog, also did a post My top ten genealogy research programs

I’ve decided to do a post about my top 10 as well.  I prefer to call these tools, rather than programs.

The top tool is Microsoft Word. I keep all my genealogy research in Microsoft Word. I started using Microsoft Word for all my research in 1996, when I received my first desktop computer, and have been using Microsoft Word for my transcriptions of original documents, and handwritten notes, and I copy any information I find on the internet into Word, as well as copying my emails.

The second tool is Legacy Family Tree.  I set up my family tree into Legacy Family Tree.  This allows me to generate reports and statistics for my family tree, and it makes it easier to create source citations.  I can then create GEDCOM files to transfer into my other family tree program, RootsMagic, to my website, and to my other online family trees.  I have set up a post Why I Prefer to use Legacy Family Tree.

The third tool is  I have found that it has the greatest range of collections for my family.  At the moment I only have a subscription to the UK Heritage collection, which covers the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, as that is where my main research is.  I do have a couple of branches of the family in the United States and Canada, so I use the PayPerView option whenever I am researching one of these branches (or wait until I can afford a full subscription).

The fourth tool is FamilySearch.  The main advantage of FamilySearch, of course, is that it’s free.  I generally search here before spending money on the subscription sites.

The fifth tool is Trove.  Since a large part of my family tree is in Australia, this has proven invaluable in providing more details about my family.

The sixth tool I use is Microsoft Excel. Excel is great for producing statistics and charts that I can’t generate in Legacy, and is good when working on a main surname.  It is the features available in Excel, such as Pivot Tables and Macros, that are the reason I prefer to stick to the Office Suite, rather than the alternatives available.

The seventh tool is the Snipping Tool in Windows.  I find this useful when working on Trove, and I want to clip a smaller section of the article.  I don’t use it very much for anything else, because I tend to just copy and paste things I find on the internet into Word.

The eighth tool is the Photos app in Windows.  Although I don’t have a lot of photos to work with, this app gives me the options to crop, rotate and do basic fixes to photos.

The ninth tool is Google.  Although I have bookmarked the sites I use most often, I use google to find the ones I use less often.  I also use Google to do a general search for a person.  Since some gravestones are available on FindAGrave, while others are on BillionGraves, (particularly here in Australia) sometimes it is easier to use Google, rather than checking each site.  In this way, I can also come across more recent obituaries, and information from smaller, less well known, websites.

The tenth tool is Australian Cemeteries.  There are some cemetery websites that I have bookmarked, because they are the larger city cemeteries, but Australian Cemeteries is useful in finding whether a cemetery has an online database, or the contact details for cemeteries that don’t have an online database.

Trying to decide on the tenth tool was harder than the first nine. I do use FindMyPast, but usually when they have a free weekend.  I use ScotlandsPeople for the branches of my family that came from Scotland.  I have RootsMagic as a second family tree program.   There are numerous other “tools” I use on a regular basis, particularly when it comes to Australian research.  These can be found on my Resources page.