Here are the select set of resources you’ll need to explore your family’s history.
Start with Software
Your genealogy software is the repository for all the information you discover. It’s the main tool in your genealogy toolbox. Which one you choose will likely depend primarily on whether you use a Windows PC or a Mac.
Already Have Software?
Handy indexes of articles and videos by application are linked below for your convenience:
Still Looking for Software?
I’ve also created a couple of buyer’s guides to help you make a choice between software:
See my recommendations in the following sections.
Genealogy Software for Windows
I recommend Family Tree Maker 2014 if you are an Ancestry.com subscriber and want to keep your data synched. Otherwise, I recommend RootsMagic 6. There are many good alternatives though. Look at a PC genealogy software feature comparison table to see how it stacks up against the competition Try each of these contenders and choose the one that best fits your needs and feels best to use:
- Family Historian
- Family Tree Maker 2014
- Legacy Family Tree
- RootsMagic 6
- The Master Genealogist
Genealogy Software for Mac
I recommend Family Tree Maker for Mac 3 for family history research on the Mac. If you want more information, you can look at a Mac genealogy software feature comparison table to see how it stacks up against the competition.
- Family Tree Maker for Mac by Ancestry.com
- Reunion 10 by Leister Productions
- iFamily for Leopard
- Synium MacFamilyTree 6
Get Good Books
- How to Do Everything Genealogy
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Genealogy, 2nd Edition
- The Family Tree Problem Solver: Tried-and-True Tactics for Tracing Elusive Ancestors
- You Can Write Your Family History
Setup Folders on Your Computer
You’ll need places to put archival copies of scanned documents, photos, and other files on your computer. This series of video screencasts will walk you, step-by-step, through setting up a folder system and putting files into it. They’re created on a Mac and take advantage of the powerful alias feature in Mac OS X, but most of the system will work well on Windows too.
- Part 1, My Family History Folder
- Part 2, Places
- Part 3, People
- Part 4, People with Multiple Names
- Part 5, Multiple People
- Part 6, People and Places
- Part 7, Place-Name Changes Through History
- Part 8, Finding Aliases and Originals
- Part 9, Do all your folders look alike?
Get Information About Your Ancestors
Not all of the information about your relatives is online, so you’ll need to do some sleuthing in the real world. But, there is a wealth of information available online. My advice to you is to consider everything, but only trust it after you prove it. That said, these online databases provide a great source of leads! There’s some overlap between the records on these sites and they each have treasured family history that the others won’t. You can search for free to get an idea which holds the most (and most interesting) genealogy data for your ancestors.
- Fold3.com (Military Records)
- Find a Grave
There are tons more sites, but I want to keep this concise so that it’s most useful for you.
Get a DNA Test
Download My Helpful Videos
You’re free to look around and view any of the free videos on GenealogyTools.com. Many have found that it’s easier and quicker to have the videos on their own computer. You can get more information here.