In every facet of life, the globe is evolving and progressing faster. Every day, a slew of new tools emerge, making human existence more peaceful and comfortable. Discover in this post 10 modern tech tools that have transformed genealogy.
The precision of the operation has also risen as a result of these tools. Genealogy is one such powerful technology.
Many people research about their ancestors and construct an elaborated family free with interesting stories from their history. Later they share it with their family at special gatherings and display it using a home projector.
Snail-mailing requests, checking for names in printed books, and scrolling microfilm were the foundations of genealogical research until the year 2000.
We still utilize the same approaches now, but we spend most of our research time on the Internet, exploring websites and chatting.
What used to take weeks or months via mail and the interlibrary loan may now be completed in seconds online.
And DNA testing has become a common practice for establishing and disproving ties as well as determining our ethnic origins.
Here are ten modern tools that have revolutionized genealogy and that you should add to your research toolkit.
Tablet PCs provide consumers with a more portable alternative to their bulkier computers. It’s a hybrid of a computer and a smartphone that’s the size of a book.
Detachable laptops can also be a good choice for people with a low budget and high computing power requirements. You can find the best convertible laptops for under $500 only.
A tablet is a device that combines a touchscreen display, a camera, and a microphone into one device.
The majority of tablets include Wi-Fi capabilities. Although there is no keyboard, a virtual keyboard appears on the screen for typing.
A tablet is a great companion for a genealogist because of its small weight, wide display, and touch interface.
Examining photographs, taking notes at the library, and perusing the internet are all things you can enjoy doing.
You can take still photos and films of gravestones using the built-in camera, as well as “photocopy” papers.
Don’t forget about the vast genealogy materials and documents stored in libraries and archives.
These materials were far more challenging to locate fifteen years ago: you had to search several library catalogs, some of which were not yet online.
With its collection of 2 billion items in more than 10,000 libraries worldwide, WorldCat has completely transformed that.
It even catalogs entries in the Family History Library at FamilySearch.
Each WorldCat entry lists names of libraries in order of their distance from you, making the site and its mobile app an excellent resource for discovering relevant documents.
Try these category searches using Advanced Search:
To uncover family histories
type a person’s last name followed by the term “family” into the search box, (example: Reckers family).
To access local histories
Enter the name of a city or county, as well as the term “history“, (example: Shieldsville history).
To locate documents that have been published
Put a location and the term genealogy in the search box, (example: Lancaster County genealogy).
3. Online Mapping
Former county borders, streets as they were, and small villages and towns that no longer exist may all be found on old maps, leading to new exploration paths.
They can assist you in locating your ancestors’ homes and identifying their churches and graves.
Modern technology allows you to exercise your mapping abilities in unimaginable ways. Thousands of historical maps have been digitized and made available online.
Applications combine computerized maps and GPS tools.
This enables you to overlay ancient maps of ancestral hometowns onto current ones or plot locations where records show your ancestors were.
The three sites mentioned below aggregate historical resources by their locality using maps:
- Historic MapWorks contains over 1.6 million ancient maps online, including property atlases from the United States (which name landowners). You can search keywords, town names, current addresses, and geographical coordinates. You may see maps for free on the web or buy a hard copy of these maps.
- Submit your family tree to PlaceMyPast, which depicts your ancestors’ movement on a map. You may also see facts and photographs about the areas where your forefathers lived.
- Users may “pin” historical pictures, movies, audio recordings, and personal recollections to Google Maps with HistoryPin. You may browse the information provided by museums, historical organizations, and other persons by searching your location.
4. Online Family Tree Databases
Family tree databases, constructed by researchers, allow you to quickly evaluate other genealogists’ research and expand on their discoveries.
The amount of online family tree databases has grown.
In 2000, Family Tree Magazine profiled the top ten databases with 285 million names.
The top 10 family tree databases contained more than 7 billion names when we examined the matter in early 2014.
The following are the largest family tree collections, which now include source references (to assist you in verifying whether the data in the tree is authentic), tales, and photos.
It would be best if you look at these websites for your relatives.
There are almost 2 billion names in these Public Member Trees. This site searches its databases for the names in your family tree automatically.
You can create a tree for free (registration needed), but you’ll need a membership to see records that match persons in your tree.
Family Tree is free to use, but it requires registration. Unlike other online family tree collections, which include duplicate information, FamilySearch built this tree to have only one thorough profile for each person.
According to FamilySearch, any user can change any profile, ensuring the most accurate Family Tree possible.
You may create these trees for free for up to 250 profiles; however, you can pay to create a larger tree and receive other benefits.
The site’s Smart Matching function searches for names in your tree that match those in other users’ trees.
The Record Matching tool looks for matches in historical MyHeritage records that require a separate Data membership to see.
Google has grown from an ordinary internet search engine to a comprehensive service with various capabilities valuable to genealogists during the last 20 years.
Go to Google’s homepage and click on the dots in the upper right corner to access these tools:
- Learn about people, places, past events, and just about anything else you can think of.
- To acquire an aerial perspective of your ancestor’s hometown, use Google Earth. By analyzing ancient atlases and records, you might even be able to locate a family property and discover what’s there now.
- Google Translate can help you decipher papers written in a foreign language.
- With YouTube’s instructional videos, you may learn how to investigate your family history.
- Find rare books and periodicals, use Google Books.
- Find images of individuals, schools, and churches on Google Images.
- Google Maps can help you find your ancestral house. You can typically view an image of the road and structures in Google Street View if you discover a place of relevance on a map.
6. Genealogy Mega Websites
Famous genealogical websites with digitized and searchable databases of the most-used historical documents, passenger lists, military registrations, and more—allow researchers to find names, connections, homes, and other facts for entire family lines in a single session.
These sites likewise offer lesser but valuable record collections.
Three of the larger websites are still expanding and improving.
These are listed below:
1. Ancestry.com has over 14 billion records, including demographic, births, marriages, death, military, and immigration information, as well as over 60 million users’ family trees and digital books.
The site’s most impressive technological achievement is the ability to search through all of those data and genealogical trees in a single search.
2. In addition to records, books, and family trees, FamilySearch.org offers a vast and increasing collection of them.
Over 1,500 searchable record collections are available (additional collections are not yet indexed).
There are about 3.5 billion names in searchable databases and over 81,000 digital books. All are open to the public and are free to use.
3. MyHeritage.com began with online family trees before expanding into historical data.
Today it has 5 billion records, 27 million family trees, and 200 million images. The site is available in 40 languages.
7. Crowdsourced Databases
Online digital records are fantastic, but name indexes (searchable data of names) make them even more helpful.
However, because record indexes are time-consuming and expensive to create, genealogical groups have devised a solution.
By obtaining the aid of the common public, they can index their records in no time. The indexing initiatives of these three websites are excellent examples:
More than 1.2 billion records have been completed by volunteers, which you may search for free at FamilySearch.org.
Amongst the most recent collaborations is with GenealogyBank to archive over 100 million obituaries from US newspapers.
It can be conducted by anyone who has access to the internet.
Users can contribute images of gravestones and transcribed inscriptions to Find A Grave and its associated app.
Since its inception in 1995, Find A Grave has been crowdsourcing gravestone transcription.
BillionGraves, a similar site, contains Gps data and photos of headstones so you can discover the grave’s precise location.
The Smithsonian Institution is looking for “digital volunteers” to help transcribe historical documents.
8. DNA testing
DNA genealogy testing has become a popular method for proving or disproving familial ties and determining ethnic origins.
The most useful genealogical tests look at two types of DNA: mitochondrial and nuclear DNA.
The scientific benefits of DNA testing are increasing as genetic genealogy businesses perfect the technique.
A Y-DNA test may tell you how precisely two men are connected based on their father’s surname. Only men can take this exam since it is a male-only test.
A mother’s mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is handed on to her offspring. Men and women both inherit mtDNA from their mothers; however, this test is only used to track maternal origins because men do not pass on mtDNA.
Autosomal chromosomes are the 22 pairs of chromosomes that are not sex-linked X and Y chromosomes.
The more autosomal DNA two people have, the more likely they are to be related.
Up to the fifth cousin level, autosomal DNA testing can indicate whether two people are related.
9. Online Census Records
Since 1790, the US census has been performed every ten years. It is considered the most thorough resource for investigating American family history.
Over the last 15 years, online genealogists have made a significant contribution to the discipline of genealogy.
In 2006, Ancestry.com completed the digitization and indexing of all US census data from 1790 to 1930.
It was the first significant genealogy resource with digitized page pictures connected to an all-name index to go online.
MyHeritage.com and FamilySearch.org are two more websites that include the entire range of US censuses connected to digital photographs.
Only the names of household heads and the number of males and females by age group are listed in US censuses from 1790 to 1840.
They began recording each person’s name, age, state or country of birth, and other information in 1850.
10. Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
Optical character recognition makes old books and publications accessible on platforms like Google Books.
Scanning a book or newspaper and preserving it as an image file is the first step in OCR.
The image is processed using OCR software, which detects letters and transforms them into text. It is then saved in a database and searchable for users.
Because OCR can’t read handwritten documents or misreads discolored or blurred text, companies like Ancestry.com and FamilySearch pay foreign indexers or rely on volunteers to do the task.
Mocavo has announced substantial advancements in the development of OCR software. Once developed, it can potentially automate the conversion of historical probate records to text.
Digitized books and newspapers
As previously stated, OCR technology leads to the digitization of books and newspapers. For genealogists, it’s difficult to overestimate the value of digital documents.
The world’s biggest online book collection, Google Books allows you to search for journals and books from libraries and publications worldwide.
Newspapers print birth, marriage, and death announcements, as well as obituaries and regional news.
Because enormous collections of old newspapers are now available online, you may search for a name over several years of newspapers.
This procedure takes less time than it used to.
The Library of Congress’s Chronicling America website includes searchable online newspapers from 1836 to 1922 and a database of historical newspapers produced in the United States.
All of this study prompts the question, “What lies ahead in the future?”
We’re counting on advancements in DNA, web searches, and record digitization.
Perhaps time will only tell how well these advancements would affect the future of genealogical research.
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