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© 2002-07 AFHS
17 Aug 2005



Getting Started (Computers and Genealogy)


Gordon HulbertGensoft - March 2001
by Gordon Hulbert, GenSoft Chair & William Campbell, GenSoft Publicity Chair


  • Genealogy - kind of like building a jigsaw puzzle with all the edge pieces missing and no lid for the box
  • Genealogy - A collection of related names, dates, and places, and provides the framework for a family history compilation
  • Family History - Contains not only a genealogical collection, but a textual story of individuals and the events that shaped their lives.

General Guidelines for Family History Research

  • Start with the people you know best, namely you and your spouse
  • Use a blank pedigree chart (pdf) to help
  • Remember, you have two parents, four grandparents and eight great grandparents
  • Keep working on your pedigree chart until your store of information is exhausted
Simple Fact of Life      Invered Family Tree

Data Sources

  • Now is the time to start interviewing family members
  • Don't be pushy
  • If they don't want to talk, don't make them
  • Avoid Confrontation
  • Personal Sources: Review all documents that you have (e.g. Vital records (certificates, letters, newspaper clippings (obituaries), family Bibles, photograph albums, diaries)
  • Other Sources:
    • Church parish records
    • Tax records
    • Census Records
    • Wills and probates
    • Military service records
    • Electoral Rolls
    • Gazetteers
    • Ship passenger lists
    • Local family history societies

Carrying On

  • Family legends, but be careful!
  • Document your sources
  • Has it already been done?
  • Use the LDS Family History Centers
  • Join a society, e.g. AFHS
  • Use a computer for genealogical software and internet access
  • Internet sources (the beginning, not the end)

Methods of Storage

  • Do nothing
  • Use the "shoe box" method
  • Record data by hand or use a word processor
  • Draw descendants and/or pedigree charts
  • Record data in a genealogical software. Genealogical data is not simply isolated bits of textual data; data are linked to each other, e.g. husband, wife and children. Because of this, genealogical data is so well suited to be managed by a computer application.

Genealogical Program

  • adds, changes, or deletes data
  • sorts the data
  • prints descendant reports, with an index
  • exchange data between programs (i.e., GEDCOM)
  • customized searches
  • checks data for reasonableness

Computer Hardware

  • Apple/Macintosh
  • IBM PC (clone)
  • 486 (or faster, i.e. Pentium)
  • Windows 95 or higher
  • Memory - 16 MB (minimum)
  • Hard disk space - 20 MB
  • CD Rom - 20X Minute

Computer Training

  • I already know it all, or I don't even know how to turn the $#%^&* on
  • You may choose to close your eyes and jump in
  • Or, consider taking a course
  • Best value, attend Computer SIG meetings


  • Extremely useful resource
  • 86,000 genealogy websites
  • remember, this is a good resource, not a replacement for good, hard research
  • look us up at
  • mailing list and newsgroups
  • search engines