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Category Archives: Software


I have recently been brought into a group research effort on my Standlee line. It’s a big effort in research & it’s been amazing!!

As you can imagine we have a lot of different family & a plethora of documents, groupsheets, & analyses…dating into the 1600’s!

How do we share all this research? Dropbox! Individually sharing records takes up so much space in emails & on your computer, as well as very time-consuming. Like most things I’m leery of using anything online, none-the-less in group sharing. It usually gets so confusing.

But with Dropbox’s free service & FREE APP… Not only can you share 2GB of files & photos… You can take it anywhere with you!

It’s great being able to see what we are all looking at & knowing who has seen what; it brings us all up to speed easily at our own pace without losing our collections in the mumble jumble of emails & computer files. But adding to my arsenal on the go is perfect! Let’s face it, doesn’t hold all our found records (not yet) & dragging our computers is sometimes too much… Here’s a great solution to taking it all with you on your next “hunt”! Just whip out your smartphone! :D


Webinars And Podcasts

My time to do research is limited and trying to get to the new trend of webinars has been seemingly impossible!

When do I have time to camp out in front of my computer? An ever-growing technology junkie toddler prevents any quality time alone with Mac :D And when I do, it’s ate up with actual research time….

However, I feel like could use some of the webinars out there, especially some that pertain to Ancestry products & services. I would love to hear about any growing trends or research pointers.

So on a lark, I searched my iTunes Store App for “genealogy” and there’s a good selection of podcasts!

Podcasts! Duh! Brilliant! I can listen to them driving, late at night in bed, or even doing chores … Or better yet, while I’m researching!!! Multitasking :)

  • of course has a whole podcast set up to provide just webinars! They currently have 41 episodes ranging from beginner’s how-to’s to using their products!
  • BBC 4 Tracing Your Roots – only 5 episodes but there is a lot of information already, including “Tracing Rootless Ancestors” talking about gypsies! LOVED IT!… just fun history tidbits!
  • National Archives with 184 episodes!
  • Family Tree Magazine – yes,… the same one sold on stands, but in discussion!

I am loading up & can’t wait for another walk around the block! YAY!

Sailing Out Of The Genealogy Bermuda Triangle

Ok, a small break from the hunting of my dead people to make a point & answer a friend on how to file or organize your family records & information.

Organization is ABSOLUTELY key in keeping your research safe & productive. Without it, you are basically stuck in the Bermuda Triangle of Genealogy: lost in a sea of papers forever….often resulting in inaccurate connections, missing people, & a lot of retracing your steps.

There are many ways to organize your records. However, the most complete & well thought out design is the MRIN Filing System. I learned this system in my classes, and I REFUSE to go back, no matter how many people (or software programmers) think it is unnecessary. I can locate any ancestor, their information, & their records in about 2 seconds flat! Beat that Google! LOL!

A good genealogy software program (like Legacy for PC users) will have an MRIN (Marriage Record Index Number) usually already preset. How it works is the first marriage that you enter will get the number 1, the second one you enter (usually the first set’s parents) will get number 2, and so on. Eventually you can really add up & have over 100+ MRIN’s!

If a child never married, he/she will always be located with the parents’ MRIN. So you never have a missing person… ever!

NOTE- some software programs are addressing monogamous same sex relationships, and this may not be a MRIN but a way to enter your own ID numbers.

Once you have entered your information in your program you can usually then create & print a list of those individuals in your tree with their MRIN’s in alphabetical order. This ultimately becomes your index.

Next you start with a 3 ring binder, page protectors (acid free so they don’t ruin originals or photos, I absolutely don’t recommend hole punching anything!), a set of tabs… & off you go. You will print the Family Group Sheet for your first marriage, number 1. Then you will put this family behind tab number 1, along with any records you might have for them. Keep going until you have done this for all of your MRIN’s.

Don’t worry that they aren’t in order or not alphabetical. When you look at your ancestor print out (index), they are listed alphabetically!

I know some of my genealogy friends & colleagues have so much more than a few binders, so a few opted for using the same system, but in a filing cabinet instead of a binder.

The reason this is better than by surname… well the obvious… some of my surnames have over 1,000 individuals in them! I can’t keep that together & expect to find what I am looking for. The MRIN Filing System allows me to locate an INDIVIDUAL & his/her info quickly.

Here is another good article that also describes this system:

Finding Time – There’s An App For That!

I’ve been asked & I have done some asking: “How do you ever find the time?” I mean I’ve got only one baby boy….a friend of mine has 5 children & she homeschools! So how do individuals like us find the time?

As I have stated, I’m a genealogist in a significantly different era. I’m young in comparison to many of my counterparts & technology had taken a hold of most family history research.

I can’t vouch for anyone else, but for me I find the time, like right now: I’m sitting in my truck letting little sleep & my ankle rest, while friends of ours finish the Mt. Nokogiri hike,…on my iPhone with my WordPress app & the 3G network here in Japan :D

Believe it or not, these days most my research, correspondence with relatives, my blog, etc is all done via my iPhone! Apps! They literally have an app for everything! Once you get set up, moving to an app is so easy & extremely convenient!

“That’s greeaaat! So, where’s the time?” This was my biggest area of “adjustment” after baby. Finding the time, took first getting ORGANIZED! For me that meant getting everything set up & communications working.

Having a hardcopy of all my work to date with documentation in a 3 ring binder is a great start! This reference point is so easy & set up in a way that I can locate any ancestor I am looking for in seconds! Sometimes, faster than the internet can connect to the page I request! It stays open on my office desk so that I have a quick & easy access with my “drive by” moments of free time. It saves me so much time! (A blog to follow just on binder organization & why MRIN’s are so vital!)

Then I just need to download a few apps to my phone & log in to my accounts via the apps, and I was set! Just a tap & touch away, I can find time while waiting to pick hubby up, relaxing on the couch during little’s nap, during transit time to somewhere fun (road trip or tain rides), while soaking in a bath (yes you read that right!), sometimes I steal quick glances at emails or write a note while waking from the laundry to the kitchen, & of course the obvious time… little’s bedtime.

By having all my information & internet access at my finger tips literally, all I needed next was a good “To-Do List” App, and I have been able to find the time & get back to a passionate hobby of mine :D

Family Tree Maker Fails

So Family Tree Maker tech support finally wrote me back:

“Dear Amy,

We appreciate your message.

I apologize, but I am not sure that I know what you are referring to when you say MRIN’s. What are MRINS’s?

If there is anything else with which we might assist you, please let us know.

Member Solutions”

Are you serious? Professional world wide company that helps MANY professionals created a software that doesn’t know what a MRIN is?! Is this possible?

Needless to say I responded trying very hard to hold my sarcasm & my tongue of angst schooling them on a MRIN (Marriage Record Index Number) & how I found the answer online & I acutely noted thief failure. It took them over a week to respond … She couldn’t research it or pass it to someone who did know?

Needless to say, par for the course Ancestry fails again! So off to hunt down another Mac compatible genealogy software…


Ancestry App for iPhone

I have cursed so many times over the last 5 years with their incessant new updates & rearranging of the way you use their site along with an  increase in membership fees… This time they did something right … finally!

I have had the app for my iPhone for just a little while now. I wasn’t impressed with it. It simple listed my tree(s) I had with & an alphabetical list of individuals attached to that tree. Pretty worthless…

UNTIL NOW! The NEW Ancestry app (or update for those of us with the previous version) has finally started to catch up with family research in the 21st century & everyone on the go!

It now gives you a view of your tree as an actual tree with a home button that will take you back to your set home person so you can swing through the branches of your tree(s). The option to add & delete individuals (no more letting my little man play with mommy’s phone… LOL) , the ability to edit information for persons attached, & the ability to search for individuals you have saved to your tree! You can also view a list of documents or “evidence” you have saved to individuals, add photos from your iPhone, or view attached photos. And with internet access, you can access through the app itself! Truly worth the effort now & the download.

The best part… IT’S STILL FREE! Yes, it is still free to download. Thus if you have account you have an app that will take your work with you on the go! Even better, it is always free to simple create a tree with with no attached records, so it is never completely worthless :) You can use it as your own family tree app on the go & never upload to

It’s still not as fancy as say Reunion, but it is definitely comparable. If you don’t use Reunion on your Mac, their app, which is $14.99, is completely worthless to you.  Thus, I am very excited to have the Ancestry app taking up memory & space on my iPhone :)


After almost 15 years of research, college classes, a bunch of lectures & conferences, I decided to move away from Windows completely & move solely to Mac. Mostly because of a crash & burn in Windows on my Parallels platform, I now sit here researching Mac compatible genealogy software…& lesson learned on not backing things up…I get to also start from scratch reentering ALL my research by hand.

After much research I was certain I’d found my answer: Family Tree Maker by Ancestry. I am able to download my tree(s) from Ancestry into Family Tree Maker, as well as attached resources! So half the work is done for me!! Genius, right?

Well besides now learning a very non-straightforward system (thank goodness I bought the handbook), it also lacks MRIN options either automatically or self entry!!! How am I supposed to create my hard copies & keep them organized?

It turns out Family Tree Maker for Mac is based off their Windows 2010 version, where they took out MRIN’s… Of course! But the new Windows 2011 version has added the option back!!! So I guess I’m waiting on a new Mac version…? I’ve emailed them, … But no response. Here’s hoping a new update for Mac version soon :)

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