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"The ancestor of every action is a thought." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Entries in technology (16)


2011 Holiday Gift Guide For The Family Historian 

Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner

This handy mobile scanner will give your family historian the ability to scan pictures and documents where ever they go! With Flip-Pal you can even scan pictures that are hanging on the wall. So many times I have been visiting with family and we look at old pictures or interesting documents and I struggle to take pictures with my cell phone or camera. Often times I can't get the settings right to get a nice clear image. I don't have one of these yet... :) But I've heard great things. Price $149.99


Family Tree Maker

Family Tree Maker software allows you to export your family tree directly to your desktop. Set up is really easy and they have versions for PC and MAC. Once your family tree is loaded to the software, you can access your tree even when you don't have an internet connection! There are tons of great reports, charts, and diagrams you can customize and print to give your research a professional touch. Price For PC: FTM 2012 $29.99 FTM "complete" $59.99 For Mac: FTM for Mac 2 $55.99 Gift Memberships

The perfect gift for anyone who loves using to research family history. With a paid subscription you have access to billions of historical records! You can choose a duration and start date for the membership. The recipient will receive an email alerting them of their membership on the membership start date you select. You will have the chance to print out the gift certificate to give to the person if you'd like. **This type of gift is only for people who DO NOT already have an active membership. See the gift membership FAQ for more information.** Price for 12 month U.S Membership: $159 Price for U.S 6 month Membership: $89


The Family Tree Problem Solver by Marsha Hoffman Rising

I found this book at the library and found it to be a very helpful resource! From "Has your family history research hit a brick wall? Inside you will find: Ideas on how to find vital records before civil registration, Tips for finding "missing" ancestors on censuses, Instructions for investigating collateral kin to further your pedigree, Work-arounds for lost or destroyed records....and much more! This revised edition also includes new information about online research techniques and a look at the role of DNA research. Plus you'll find a glossary of genealogy terms and more than a dozen templates for charts and logs to help you organize and record your research." Price: $15.76 (



Archival Photo Pages, Sleeves, and Binders

Archival materials are always a great gift for your family historian. You definitely want to encourage their motivation to organize and preserve your family pictures and documents. Every time pictures and papers are touched oils from your hands will slowly start to degrade the materials. By giving the gift of binders, plastic sleeves, archival can help guarantee these precious family memories will be preserved for the next generation. You can buy these materials many different places, I'm linking to one well known site- Light Impressions.

Nov092011 DNA Testing- What Can DNA Tell Me About My Ancestors? 

Last week I received an email from with a great freebie offer- a free DNA test kit! I didn't have a particularly strong interest in DNA testing and to be completely honest, I wasn't quite sure what I could learn or why I would want to explore this method of research. But genealogy isn't cheap and a freebie is hard to pass by! I just got the kit in the mail yesterday so I figured it's time to see what this is all about.

On the DNA Testing website I see there are 3 different DNA tests you can choose from, Paternal Lineage, Maternal Lineage, and a combined test for both Paternal and Maternal DNA testing. Pricing ranges from $149-$358.  From reading the FAQ section I learned that a female can only test the maternal lineage, whereas a male can take both the maternal and paternal. If I submit the DNA sample for the maternal test I will find out the ancient ancestry of my mothers side, but it won't help me find living family matches. From the site: "The Maternal Lineage test differs from the Paternal test in that it cannot validate a family relationship -- so even if your maternal DNA is an identical match with another participant it can only prove that you may have been related thousands of years ago." With the paternal test you can find matching genetic cousins, levels of relatedness with other DNA groups, and learn the ancient ancestry of my paternal line from up to 100,000 years.

When I activated my test online I indicated that I will be providing the DNA. In hindsight it might have been better if I asked my dad to provide the test sample for the paternal test. I might try contacting them to see if I can change this, it seems like the paternal test would provide me with better information for growing my family tree. My maiden name is Wright and it's been difficult sifting through this popular surname for relations!

The kit looks very simple, cheek swabs for collecting the DNA sample and instructions for collecting and getting your sample processed. 

Find out more about Genetic Genealogy: webinar: Genetic Genealogy Made Easy

A book I found, DNA and Social Networking: A Guide to Genealogy in the Twenty-First Century by Debbie Kennett looks like a good resource for learning more about DNA and it's relevance in genealogy research.

Stay tuned for an update after my (or my dads) sample is processed. I'll be exploring the DNA groups and services from and other DNA projects out there. Have you done any DNA testing for your genealogy research? What did you find out? I'd love to hear about your experiences!

* I am not being paid by for this review or for sharing my experience. I received the free test kit because I am a subscriber of I am sharing my experience and thoughts on my blog to help others learn about genealogy research and DNA testing.


Data Visualization and Genealogy

The Value of Data Visualization from Column Five on Vimeo.

I just love this video! I find it so inspiring and creative. I'm always looking for ways to simplify and share genealogical and historic information. A Family Tree is a great example of an infographic. You are taking a information that is hard to conceptualize and "drawing" it out in a way to identify the different components. Men from women, generations from older generations, places of birth/death...and so on. When you visualize your family tree, you might be surprised to see connections or patterns you might not have realized without displaying information in a visual way. Another avenue of data visualization I find incredibly relevant to genealogy are maps!

See how I've visualized genealogical and family history data.

I use wrapping paper to draw out family trees.

Tips and strategy for drawing family trees.

How to use Google maps to create a custom genealogical map.


* how to use google maps to make a custom genealogy map

10 Steps to a FREE Custom Google Map! It's so easy, all you need to save "My Maps" is a free Google account. If you don’t have one, you can sign up for one here. I use this tool for mapping out the different addresses I find from my ancestors census records, military records, letters, jobs, etc... Addresses can be found in so many places! I love visualizing where they lived and playing with the data. You can then print these maps or invite other people to view your map. Once you are signed into your Google account follow these 10 steps to create your custom maps!

Click to read more ...