Ten years ago I had a couple big binders and assorted color coded folders for my genealogy research. Then I learned about a computer program that could organize it all and it would allow me to print out family group sheets and outlines. It was made by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter – day Saints. They were the famous genealogy people so it had to be good.
In January 1993 I ordered the 2.2 version of Personal Ancestral File. I was recently cleaning out the drawers of an old desk and discovered I still had the box, complete with 2 floppy discs, the ‘Get Started’ manual and the dated receipt. The manual included basic instructions you’d never see today including, ‘How Does the Computer Keyboard Work?’ which explained the differences between a typewriter & a keyboard. Now that seems funny but it was useful then.
|How Does the Keyboard Work?|
I remember how excited I was when it arrived and how nervous I felt as I slid the first floppy disc into our desktop computer. Once installed, the Main Menu popped up. Options: add, modify or delete records, pedigree search, notes, prints forms & reports, focus/design reports, match/merge, facts and fun, system utilities. Just type the number of the appropriate command and hit enter. It was all new and the possibilities seemed endless. I saw myself as a true genealogist now; not just a collector of bits of paper and notes.
Starting with myself, I carefully typed in family names, places of birth, Christening, death and burial. Each person was automatically assigned a RIN (record identification number). I was proud of myself as the numbers increased. I gained confidence and typed faster, watching my family grow. Adding source information didn’t seem like a priority at the time. Later, of course, I wished I had. Soon I was proudly printing things out to share with my family.
Now all of it looks embarrassingly simple. Years ago I was able to move my information into Family Tree Maker, which I update every couple years. I can print charts, trees & many different reports. Next decision: do I toss it all away or save it for the future?