Saturday, February 2, 2008

Climb This Tree

Family history has been a hobby for me off and on for a number of years. My mother's family were all from Vermont and the family history has been well documented. My father's side of the family is a different story. My father, The Colonel, grew up in a large New England city during the early part of the 1900's. I run into a road block when I try to get any further than my great-grandfather. Trying to get beyond this hurdle however, has provided countless hours of entertainment and learning.

For the past 7 or 8 years I have been using the computer program "Family Tree Maker" to keep up with things. Last week I decided to "spring" for the latest version, Family Tree Maker for 2008. I'm really glad I paid the $29 to upgrade my existing program. (If you're into this type of thing, don't buy online. Most office product stores carry the software at a discount.) Not only is the upgrade better organized, with a much more intuitive interface, but there is a fantastic new feature that can really make "the hunt" easier.

With the 2008 version comes a free 30 day subscription to, perhaps the great
est online family history resource available to the general public. The cool thing is that the software can be integrated to this site if you have an internet connection.

What this means, is that the Family Tree software will take information from your family tree and automatically check with for information on the people in the family tree. The user can then sort through the documents to determine if they really do pertain to that particular person and then save a copy of the document.

The picture to the right is a page from the actual national Census of 1920. The Family Tree program showed me this document based on some entries for my wife's family.The page actually shows her grandfather and grandmother with their children. The Bride's father is not listed because this was before he was born.

As you can see this document is handwritten. It was created by a person knocking on doors, asking questions about the inhabitants of the address, and writing down the information on this sheet of paper. So the person who wrote these words, stood in the doorway of all these people and talked to them! I think this is an amazing link to the past. Not only can you see information on the person you are researching but you can also see what their neighborhood was like at the time because the interviewer went down the street, door to door. Census information is not the only information available from this site. Military records, ship manifests, Social Security Death Records and a lot more are available.

I haven't worked on family history for awhile but this program has once again ignited the flame and I'll be spending some time on "the hunt" this week.

Thanks for visiting.

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