Sunday, April 22, 2007

Back to the drawing board

How long does it take YOU to get back to your genealogical pursuits after a major interruption? My experience is that everyday life sometimes takes over, and the family charts, folders and notes may lie untouched for days – even weeks. Being retired, I have fewer demands on my time now than many genealogists. Working outside the home or raising a family both have their unyielding demands that must come first. Then there are houseguests, and vacations. Pleasant, to be sure, but they tend to divert us from our research, sometimes for long after the fact.

But there is always that pull. Someone mentions a familiar surname, a bit of news comes up about a region where the family once lived, or a new "how to" book comes on the horizon. Closer to home, a long-overdue response to a query finally shows up, or a vital record ordered six months ago arrives in the mail at last. And we're off again!

I have been waffling about doing research for several weeks now, but feel I am about ready to dive back in. One inspiration for me is the regular arrival of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, which keeps me posted about all sorts of family-history-related news. Another is my membership in the National Genealogical Society, which brings me fact-filled publications, full of ideas and inspiration.

I was noodling around online the other day, after reading EOGN's article on how the LDS FamilySearch website is about to undergo major changes. Saw no evidence of that at their current site (, but I did discover that their very basic genealogy program, Personal Ancestral File, has a new (to me) version, 5.2. Included is an updated PAF Companion, which provides several charting varieties. Turns out there is now a "top-down" descendants' chart, which has long been on my wish list (see my posting of October 11, 2006, "Changing my tune.").

Dick Eastman, incidentally, feels self-contained genealogy programs (like PAF, Legacy, Family Tree Maker, etc) are becoming outmoded and we will all be storing and accessing our family data online very soon. But until I feel comfortable relying on the Internet to provide a secure-but-easy-to-search site for my own notes and charts, I think I'll stick to Personal Ancestral File, which is truly personal. I have, however, sent for the revised programs, with their expanded display variations (under $9, what a deal!).

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