Family Tree Maker 2017: Color Coding

After a long wait and lots of hard work by Jack Minsky and the team at MacKiev, Family Tree Maker 2017 for Windows and Mac has been released. One of the features I was most excited about is the color coding that is available in both versions. Read More »

WorldCat for Genealogy: A Secret Weapon

I love finding tools that make my workflow easier, and WorldCat is one of the "secret weapons" that makes my research easier and more effective.

As you might guess, WorldCat is the world's largest library catalog and is available online. Instead of searching the card catalog of individual libraries, WorldCat allows you to obtain results from all of their member libraries, which include public, university, and state libraries in addition to sites like HathiTrust. While visitors can search without registering, what I love about WorldCat is the functionality available to registered users. Registering is free and gives users three great tools: favorite libraries, lists, and tags. Read More »

The World Is Not Ending... or, Ancestry Is Discontinuing FTM

The genealogy world was rocked yesterday by's announcement that they are discontinuing Family Tree Maker. First and foremost, understand that your version of Family Tree Maker is not going to turn into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. What are the implications of Ancestry's announcement, and what should FTM users (and Ancestry users who don't use desktop software) do now? Read More »

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How To Digitize Family History Cassette Tapes

For those of us lucky enough to have recordings on cassette tape with valuable family history information, finding a way to preserve those recordings for future generations can be a challenge. I'm pretty comfortable with technology but it still took me awhile to figure it out, so hopefully what I learned will help someone else. Read More »

If You Can Remember Your Password, It's Probably Not Secure

Recently on the Genealogy for Technology Facebook group, someone asked about password managers. I am a fan of 1Password, but there are others out there that work just as well. Password managers work by creating a new randomly generated password for each site you create a login for. Those passwords are stored along with your username in an encrypted database that is protected by a master password. (In order to work well, your master password should be difficult to crack.) Some systems have their own servers for syncing and some use Dropbox or other cloud-based storage systems. I use 1Password with Dropbox and it syncs my password database across all of my devices almost instantaneously. These password managers allow you to isolate each account from all of the others by using a hard to crack password that isn't used anywhere else. Read More »

Would Your Family History Research Survive a Disaster?

As a web publisher (I run a popular homeschool website and manage the technology for my daughter's competitive gymnastics team), I am keenly aware of the tragic results of digital data loss. As an amateur genealogist, I zealously guard my family history data (computerized files as well as old family photos and physical documents), which represents thousands of hours of work. I am zealous about protecting both forms of data, and I've come up with a 3-pronged approach for each. I hope this information will help you to consider how to best protect your valuable family history research. Read More »