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Megan Smolenyak talks about how computers have benefited her genealogy research.
As Cyndi Howells asserts, home computers were made for genealogy. Anyone who has been doing genealogy for any period of time knows exactly what Cyndi means. Maintaining data and records manually is doable, but a substantial chore. Increasingly, genealogists are putting their findings into computer files.
The most commonly used type of genealogy software provides a useful system for entering and charting genealogy information. At a minimum, these database systems generally facilitate two operations: 1) data entry (entering genealogy information), and 2) printing out information. By computerizing your family history information, you eliminate the hard work of hand-printing or typing onto blank charts. With the correct software, you can input, store, retrieve, and study information quickly and without searching through boxes and drawers of genealogy charts and file materials. And you can make your computer quickly create charts tailored to include whatever information you want shown. Better still, most packages today permit you to insert, view, and print out images, making it easy to dress up your charts and printed genealogies with photos and copies of original documents.
But that's not all! New software packages are becoming available all the time to assist with specialized genealogical tasks. These include software for scrapbooking, journaling, family history or memoir writing, citing sources, recording and planning your research efforts, indexing, reunion planning, and generating customized charts or family trees. And it's a safe bet that more are on the way.
This is all wonderful news for genealogists, but can also be overwhelming. With so many options, how do you decide which software is right for you? The answer to that is as individual as each of us. A professional genealogist will want a package that has strong source citation and research planning features, whereas another user might be more interested in the ability to share photos and print colorful charts. For a little help determining the best choice for you, go to the Software extra.