Genealogy is a fascinating field of research that has been revolutionized by technology in the past 15 years. From the online collections of U. S. Census records to DNA testing, genealogists now have access to a wide range of tools that make researching family history easier and faster than ever before.
In this article, we'll take a look at the 15 technological tools that have most transformed genealogy and that you'll want to include in your research toolbox. FTM or Family Tree Maker is currently the most popular and used genealogy software. It's been around for a couple of decades and it's a pretty powerful tool. It is considered to be generally good at most things, as it provides everything you generally need from a genealogy program. Can't get enough forms to organize family data? This download contains more than 100 templates, checklists and worksheets to track your research, from conflicting death dates to DNA matches, from censuses to source citations.
BUY NOW When the magazine Family Tree began publication in January 2000, genealogy researchers relied mainly on mail-in requests, searching for names in printed books and scrollable microfilms. The online collections of U. Census records from 1790 to 1940 have probably been the most important advance for genealogists in the past 15 years. Conducted every 10 years since 1790, federal censuses are generally considered the most comprehensive resource for researching American family history. The American censuses from 1790 to 1840 list only the names of heads of household and the number of men and women by age group.
Starting in 1850, they list each person's name, age, state, or country of birth and more. Only a small fraction of the 1890 census survives, but other years are quite complete. Census records are confidential for 72 years; 1940 is the most recent year open to the public. Armed with a smartphone or tablet with internet access, a genealogist can perform almost any research task anywhere, accelerating the pace of research. All the major producers of genealogy software have created mobile applications that allow you to carry your family tree with you on your phone, tablet or other mobile device.
Some of these applications have gone from being simple tree viewers to more powerful tools that allow you to edit your tree and search in genealogical databases. Now that there are large collections of rare books and old newspapers on the Internet, you can search for a name in newspapers from many years or in thousands of books at once. Google Books, the largest collection of books online, allows you to search for books and magazines from libraries and publishers around the world. You can view many of them for free; others are available in “fragment view” or offer only information from the editor that you can use to find a printed copy. With the advanced search, you can search for a name plus the word genealogy, family, or history as a title, word, or topic.
The Library of Congress's Chronicling America website has both searchable online newspapers (1836-18192) and a directory of all historic newspapers published in the United States with information about the libraries that contain them (1690 to present).Composed of family trees sent by researchers (through the use of genealogy software or the creation of their online trees), family tree databases allow you to quickly review the research of other genealogists in order to take advantage of their findings. If a Google search shows webpages in foreign languages, Google automatically offers to translate the page. Use Google's free Chrome web browser and, every time you visit a site that isn't in one of your preferred languages, Google will offer you to translate it. Microsoft's Bing Translator works much like Google's and can handle 44 different languages. Along with tablets, came the growth of applications and cloud computing.
Load a family tree app on your tablet and you'll have your tree, along with sources and notes, at your fingertips. Rick Crume, contributing editor of Family Tree magazine, specializes in online research, genealogy software, DNA testing and British genealogy. Genealogical research books sometimes contain great information that you should consult when you're in the field. It's difficult and bulky to carry with you real physical books. An e-book reader with all your family books loaded up will allow you to get the information you need when you need it and only add about a pound to your other computer, making it easy to take it wherever you go. The National Archives' collection of resources on ethnic heritage, which highlights research tools for Asian, Black, Latino and Indigenous descent, may be useful for those whose stories are underrepresented in subscription-based genealogical databases. And sometimes you realize that you need a tool for research that you never thought you would need.
These old school tools are perfect for storing the genealogical documents you collect and organizing them on a shelf where they are available for reference when you need them. Both DNA testing and genealogy resources promote their services as something inherently personal and significant, but the truth is that these tools don't always tell you what you want to know, such as the specific origin of an ancestor. Each WorldCat listing names the libraries in order of proximity to you, making the site and its mobile application an excellent tool for locating books, manuscripts, microfilms and newspapers related to your research. In the past 15 years, Google has gone from being a simple Internet search engine to a multifaceted service with a number of useful tools for genealogists. Be sure to perform similar searches in WorldCat's innovative ArchiveGrid tool, a searchable catalog with descriptions of library manuscripts. These are really useful tools when you visit a new genealogical location or interview older family members. The UK-based genealogy tool partners with the British Newspaper Archive and the National Archives of Ireland, among other major sources of historical records. From mobile applications that allow users to carry their family tree with them on their phone or tablet to DNA testing services that help identify ethnic origins; these 15 technological tools have revolutionized genealogy research over the past 15 years.