At some time in our lives we seem to need to look backward to our roots. I have worked on my family history for a couple of years now, mostly in the winter months. I can look back and see where I could have been better organized from the get-go. It would have saved me time and money. Following are some of my genealogy tips for preparation. Hopefully these tips will help you:
- You will need a good and fast scanner on your PC. There is a lot of scanning of hard copy from old pictures to birth certificates and letters. The list is endless but you will spend a lot of time waiting if your scanner is slow.
- Even if you burn your records to CD or DVD, you will need the largest hard drive you can afford.
- You will need to archive by burning to CD/DVD or electronically transferring to a separate computer or server. If you don’t have a write-able CD or DVD in your computer then get one.
- An Internet connection. Of course, if you are reading this, you already do.
- You will need excellent genealogy software. I personally use Ancestry and subscribe to Ancestry.com. Bottom line is that I love it. My next project is my review of the software.
- A safe place in your home to archive the many items you will collect. I just received in the mail a very old photo album. It was falling apart as it came out of the envelope. Gold dust, but needing protection. You need a place in your home to archive valuable items that will deteriorate rapidly if you don’t.
- Scan everything you can into your computer ASAP. These items will never be better than they are today.
- I have a computer organized with separate folders for every single person in my tree. I always scan to these folders and then copy into my tree. I have set these folders onto my desktop. It is extremely easy to get confused about who is who in the family tree. This approach will keep you better organized and sane.
- You will need a digital camera for when you take trips…, which you will. Get the largest amount of memory you can afford. You will regret it if you don’t.
- Last, but not least, there is always a temptation to rush back in time as far as possible. Eventually you will hit a wall and need to retrace your steps. It is very important to fill in as much detail as possible about people like your parents and grandparents. This information will help you break through that wall. During my journey so far, I have learned that it is much more interesting to understand peoples lives than it is to create a list of names and dates. This is what truly gets you hooked. So don’t rush it.
These are simple pieces of advice that will help as you go through the process. You will do them at some point so why not start out that way.