It’s interesting to trace the evolution of family trees moving online since the 1990’s. Jeanne was the researcher who went traipsing all over creation to cemeteries, courthouses and libraries tracking down our ancestors. I find it interesting to go through her notes when I find things like the invention of Family Tree Maker software and old installation CD’s from Netscape – the dawn of the internet. The researchers of the early 1990’s were navigating an exciting time but it was just in the infancy of where genealogical research was going to take us.
If you have collected someone else’s research from the 1990’s or before you have an idea of what a daunting task it is to take all of that written work, files, photocopies, notes, etc. and try to digitize and bring to a new life on the internet and the computer. We are the bridge between the pre-internet age and the future internet age and we have a lot to do.
After doing this for many years here is my list of seven things you should absolutely invest in for your family tree research. These are my “must have items” in my research, organizing and digitizing tool box.
If you do not have one of these for your computer/files stop what you are doing now and order or go get one. I have learned the hard way on not properly backing up my files. This is the Seagate external hard drive – the same one I use with A LOT of memory. I always have it connected to my computer and I have it set to back up automatically once a day. I cannot say this enough times: No excuses! Back up your computer!!
Thought you were done with backing your computer? Well,…you’re not. Next you need the Gorilla USB flash drive. Your computer is backed up but you need to backup and store all of those photos and files and documents as well. The Gorilla USB flash drives are rugged and solid. Save space on your computer hard drive by moving files to the USB drive or use these when you need to share or retrieve files on the go. Organize these however you want: by file type, family lines, etc.
I cannot LIVE without my Brother P-Touch Label Maker!! I am in LOVE with this thing! If you like your folders and files and drawers to look neat and tidy and organized you have to get one of these!! So many features! You can change the font sizes, add fun little images to the labels just to name a few fun things you can do! Runs on batteries! The tapes will last you a good while – (replacement tapes below).
Ancestry DNA Kit
I see in the family tree groups ALL the time people asking about the DNA test. Yes!!! You should do one and start working the DNA into your family tree. DNA must go hand in hand with records. It will help you with your “weak branches” and it will show you where you are going off course. Jeanne was wrong on some things; DNA was able to prove it. The Ancestry DNA test is the way to go to start with. It’s the best “bang for the buck”. (Don’t bother with the Health version as they have already discontinued it. You want the basic test.)
Another item I cannot live WITHOUT! A portable scanner! This one is a great option for less than $100. The Brother DS-640 Compact Scanner can scan to multiple destinations and can be connected to a computer. There are other portable scanner options out there depending on how much you want to spend but this one is great!
If you are dealing with a lot of old negatives that you want to convert to digital images you really want to invest in one of these negative scanners. This Megasonic All In One Film Scanner is great right out of the box! Go for the upgrade option with the built in memory and extra SD card.
If you have collected someone else’s data from anywhere around the year 2000 (after the floppy disk and before the flash drive) you will probably need one of these. This Zelda 3.0 USB multiple SD card reader is compatible with many different types and sizes of SD cards. This will allow you to open and retrieve files and photos on those pesky little SD cards.