The internet has revolutionised family history, bringing what was a niche pastime that demanded hours scouring dusty archives and draughty churches into the home. Now, with millions of records at your fingertips, there’s no excuse to take a trip into your family’s past, digging up names, dates, professions and maybe even a shocking revelation or two.
Your PC is the perfect tool for storing family history on, but rather than rely on a Word document or Excel spreadsheet, take a look at one of the many family history programs out there, each one designed to simplify the process of researching, recording, sharing and publishing your research.
If you’re looking to dip your toes into genealogy for the first time, you don’t necessarily want to be committing any money at this stage. With that in mind, RootsMagic Essentials is the perfect tool to get started with: it’s a cut-down version of one of the better PC programs out there, but has all the key functionality you need to get your family history recorded: record as many dates and facts about each person in your family tree as you find, attach old family photos and documents in the form of multimedia records and create reports, charts and lists of your findings to show off to others.
More experienced users will also benefit from the SourceWizard, which enables you to record the sources for all your research in a professional manner, plus if you outgrow the free version, you can unlock the additional features of the full version for around US$30.
The latest version - 5 - includes new features exclusive to the paid-for version only. These include a Research Manager tool, timeline view, county-checking feature and media-tagging capabilities. Version 5 also includes a number of enhancements to existing features, including some found in the Essentials version, such as the streamlined Edit Person window.