My disclaimer: All the websites, software and products I mention on this page are what I have found to be the most useful in my genealogy research. I in no way represent these products or sites, nor do I claim that they are the “right” tools for everyone. We each have our own preferences on how we research, organize and store data. It’s up to each person to find their own work flow. I suggest you experiment with what’s out there, ask lots of questions of other researchers and be open to change. I also want to state upfront that I work on a Mac. I have always worked on a Mac and I will always work on a Mac. There are a few areas that some software developers have left Mac users behind but for the most part, I am happy with my workflow. I just wish I had more time in the day. 🙂
Jewish Genealogy Services – Run by my researcher and now friend Peter Absolon, his services focus on research and touring of the Eastern Slovakia ancestral towns.
Genealogy Slovakia – maintained by Juraj Čisárik, a Slovakian based genealogical researcher and guide who has a terrific search engine with old town and city names. Lots of good research information here.
There are many DNA testing companies out there and I can’t begin to speak to what is the best one as each has it’s strengths, depending on what you are looking for. The companies that currently test are: FamilyTreeDNA, Ancestry.com, 23AndMe, MyHeritage, and LivingDNA. I tested myself with 23AndMe and tested my parents and all cousins whose DNA tests I am managing with FTDNA. Right now I am fascinated by the ongoing research into origins of DNA clusters and have been running lots of Y-DNA tests on my male cousins.
There are two points of importance that I want to make. The first is to DNA test your oldest relatives. There’s no point testing yourself if both of your parents or even better your four grandparents are still alive. Test your oldest living relatives. The second point is that all of these companies have frequent sales, often at half the listed prices, so if you are able to wait for a sale, then do. But, if you’re waiting for a sale to test a 90 year old grandparent, don’t. Life throws us unexpected curves and that grandparent may die while you’re waiting to save $30. Do the test.
Family Tree Software
After forays into other software programs, I have finally settled on Family Tree Maker by MacKiev. Each version keeps adding more functionality but the main reason I like it is that it roundtrips with Ancestry.com where I work on my family tree. I often experiment a lot with name variants and potential relatives and like to do that online and then when things are set, move them into the FTM. I prefer keeping my tree and all the attached data on my own computer. MacKiev develops their PC version first and then things eventually trickle down to the Mac version. At this writing, there’s a pretty cool feature that allows you to output your tree to a printed book that is not available on Mac. But you can export to PDFs and use those to do a self-published book so that’s a workaround (which I have yet to try.) I also manage a lot of DNA kits for many relatives and FTM allows me to export custom modified GEDCOM files to upload to the DNA sites which is helpful.
I am a big fan of the organizational program Evernote. I’ve been using it for years and have the Premium service level which allows me to cloud store my data and sync between my computer, my laptop and my iphone. If I am at a library, I can login via the web and save data to my personal account, then log out. They also have a pretty cool tool called “Clip to Evernote” which allows you to save a webpage to your account in a variety of formats, stripping advertising, and other non-essential stuff on the page. I have folders for each family and notes for each person where I store all the valuable data I collect.
Another tool that I use extensively in my genealogy as well as other areas of my work is the software program Mindjet MindManager. MindManager allows me to create visual maps and trees. I wish the designers of this software would create some pretty templates for family trees but it’s easy enough to create simple or more complex ones yourself. I also use it to create project management maps for the work I’m doing with checklists of what I have and what I still need. I learned the art of mind mapping projects many years ago from a productivity teacher who used to train dolphins for the US Navy, so what more can I say.