I have everything and I am ready to put together my family tree. What do I use to do that?
The dilemma for everyone researching their family history is what program do I use to keep all the information and print out a pretty family tree. Face it we all want pretty family trees. There are a number of programs to use. In my opinion the two largest or most frequently chosen are Family Tree Maker which is promoted by Ancestry.com and Legacy Family Tree which is promoted by FamilySearch.org and has TempleReady Reports.
Family Tree Maker must be purchased, but Legacy Family Tree has a free standard downloadable version and more advanced versions for purchase. I use Legacy, not because it was free but because when I first started I found Family Tree Maker very confusing and hard to navigate. There are many people who would totally disagree. Legacy gave me the reports in the style I was looking for, and a variety of Family Trees I could print out.
Both programs offer you the ability to print reports, include pictures, sources and notes. They also allow you to create a portable family tree called a GEDCOM to upload your family tree to any site you choose. Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org allow you to upload your family tree to share with others researching the same line. Ancestry allows you to have your family tree private. I disagree with having private family trees. What is the point of doing all that research and sharing it with no one. How do you expect to continue in your research if no one shares with you? I know that people are concerned with others taking their information and passing it on as their own. I too had those issues, but by allowing my family tree to be public. I have found numerous cousins who are also searching and I have discovered that I even had information on their line, they did not have, and they had information on my lines.
I will also admit that I am constantly looking for photographs of my relatives even though I was reluctant to post photos of mine. The hoarder of photos was me and I even considered watermarking them when I posted them, so people would know where they came from. Then I realized that I have a photo of my father’s grandmother because someone chose to share a funeral card photograph of her. She is beautiful, the photo is beautiful and it is “watermarked” by the funeral information on the bottom of the card. I want to be able to remove it every time I see it. When making decision about sharing think of all the implications that you can and see how it will benefit or hurt your goals.
Once you have chosen your program to use for your family research, you can begin the task of transferring all those notes into your program. Once I have transferred a note on someone, I get rid of it. Paper can really accumulate. (My family is now laughing hysterically because it takes me forever to actually throw out a piece of paper, because nothing goes into my family tree until I am certain it is accurate. Therefore I have lots of notes on paper) Never throw out original documents and always keep copies of the birth, marriage, death, census records or any other record you use to source your family tree.