I started researching my family tree many years ago (pre-internet)… using the “old-fashioned” method of asking questions of my relatives to fill in the blanks of what I didn’t know. I had a computer program I was using to create the “tree” and family group sheets, but unfortunately I don’t remember what it was.
I do remember that it allowed me to create a GEDCOM file though. GEDCOM stands for GEnealogical Data COMmunication and (according to Wikipedia) is a proprietary and open specification for exchanging genealogical data between different genealogy software programs. Being able to create this file was a blessing, since it allowed me to quickly and easily upload all the data I had gathered into new software (and Ancestry online) when those tools became more readily available.
The software I currently use for keeping track of all this is Family Tree Maker which integrates perfectly with Ancestry.com.
Quick note: I had tried My Heritage for a little while but I do NOT recommend it… somehow it took over not only my browser home page, but also the default search engine and it took me WEEKS to get my system back to normal!
Ancestry is a very full featured platform for doing your own family research, however, it’s not cheap. What I usually do, when the research bug has bit me, is sign up for a monthly subscription at Ancestry, and research all I can. Then download my GEDCOM file to my desktop computer and temporarily cancel my Ancestry subscription. That way I am not paying monthly for a service I don’t use frequently.
While getting ready to start this blog, I found a great article on cnet.com about researching your family tree. The author suggests that as a possible replacement to Ancestry.com there are services likeAncesStory that will do the Ancestry research for you. There’s also FamilySearch.org, a free service from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that has an amazing amount of information available.