Establishing who your ancestors were can be of absorbing interest. Ask Lady Bracknell, Paddington Bear, or Dolly the Sheep. Finding out can be even more interesting - and productive - with a little digital assistance. You can use your computer to maintain a database of your genealogy research, write your family history, and chart your family tree. You can also use the Internet to contact other researchers, examine old records, online or on CD, and publish your results online or on paper for your family. These pages are intended to help you choose the tools you’ll need. In these pages you’ll find a mixture of features and reviews of particular interest to genealogists and family historians. Some are new, some are reprinted by kind permission of the magazines concerned. Genealogy or Family History? Technically, there is a difference. Genealogy is the study of the descent of family lines from a known ancestor. In practice, it’s used to mean tracing back to ancestors, using evidence from birth, marriage and death certificates, census data, parish data and other verifiable sources. While genealogists are principally interested in recording names, family historians are also interested in finding out all they can about their ancestors’ lives, documenting where they lived and worked, the local history defining their environment, and the historical events of their times, as well as their personal biographies. These terms are now practically interchangeable and most current lineage-linked software can serve both types of researcher well, except that the family historian will want more detailed and comprehensive reporting facilities, which may affect their choice of software. Independent Genealogy Reviews There are pages all over the web where you can read reviews of all sorts of software, including family history and genealogy. Some are highly subjective, written by users, whose enthusiasm may seek to justify their choice of purchase. Others are lifted from magazine reviews and reproduced, sometimes artfully edited, by vendors keen to boost sales of their principal product. The reviews here are totally independent and uninfluenced by any third-parties or commercial considerations. Software reviewed here includes leading commercial and free PC desktop (and laptop, of course) packages available over the counter, by mail-order or by download. They come from the USA, UK, Australia, Israel and Russia. There is also some PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) software and some webware (can only be used online). Tutorials Tutorials are in-depth reviews of a program, a specific program feature, or a web site, and can include an element of step-by- step illustrated tuition. Software listings Software is listed in near-standard bibliographic form. Reviews and features are in PDF format, for which you will need reading software, like Adobe’s Reader. You can get the free Adobe Reader here
25 years of features and reviews
Copyright James Taylor 2010
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