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Software and Books and Charts…Oh my!

Let's see…I'll need:

Genealogy Software Program $$$
Instructional Software $$$
Instructional Books $$
Special Forms $$
Antique Maps $$$
Special Edition Charts $$
Filing Cabinet $$
And the grand total is…

This doesn't need to be you. Depending upon your personal will power, genealogy can be an inexpensive hobby. Of course, if you start taking trips half way across the country to visit courthouses and graveyards, then the total adds up rather alarmingly. To start with, your supplies are basic and either inexpensive or free. There is only one expensive option that we will discuss later.

The most basic supply list for those experimenting:

  • Loose-leaf paper
  • Three ring binders
  • Charts (Free)
  • Forms (Free)
  • Folders

Genealogy pre-dates the Internet; I know, I know, it is well nigh impossible to imagine genealogy, or life for that matter, without computers! The list above is very basic, but it does give you an idea of how little it takes to start up the hobby. Now to get to an expanded list, let's take the expense one step further.

A list for those who are slightly interested:

  • Instructional Books
  • Inexpensive Online Classes ($30)
  • Camera
  • Library Card

See? That's not too bad. You still haven't put out a great deal of money, and you can quit anytime.

The basic supplies really are not bad; it is when you get the extras that cost add up. So, let's come up with a realistic list that covers the basics plus a few nice extras.

As I mentioned earlier, one area can add up quickly; software. Very little software is necessary, but in this one area the budget seems to go out the window. All you really need is a program to organize your family information. The average cost seems to be around $45. (Shops, Ancestry.com) The added cost of software to publish your findings will not be necessary for years (if ever) neither will the special database software, you have to trust me on this one. You can search the Internet for various programs and prices. If you stick with a well known program, you should do fine.

However, having said that, there is a free Ancestry File you can download from The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (LDS) web site. (Online, LDS.org) This is a good program that does all that you really need, especially to get started. This software also has the advantage of being compatible and not becoming obsolete. The biggest problem then becomes understanding the program, first you will have to have a general working knowledge of genealogy and the terms used.

That brings us to the discussion about the rest of the supplies.

  1. Three ring binders and loose-leaf paper – This is the most basic, but it never seems to leave us no matter how advanced the technology gets. The binders keep records together, travel well, and are a part of the paper trail you will need to keep track of.
  2. Charts and Forms (Free) – These can be downloaded free from many Web sites. These are essential! This is how you keep track of who is who. I have provided these forms (from various sources) in the Forms section at the left.
  3. Folders – The more the better! Another essential of genealogy is organization, and folder to help keep records straight is a cost effective way. There are others and each person will discover what works best as they go, but to start folder will work.
  4. Instructional Books, Videos/Software, and/or Online Classes – If you wish to start out with a better understanding of how to proceed, or better yet, how not to, I would highly recommend learning ahead of time as opposed to after you have several months work done only to find out you have gone about it all wrong.
  5. Camera – This piece of equipment is not essential, however, it is great for documentation. Going to a family graveyard is a great way to get information, but if the location is distant then the pictures may be the only other time you will ever see that site.
  6. Library Card – This free basic will get you farther than all the others. Libraries not only have a great deal of information, there is also the inter-library loan program so very little is out of reach.


Genealogy: A haystack full of needles. It's the threads I need.

Top 10 Indicators That You've Become A Gene-Aholic:

1. You introduce your daughter as your descendent.

2. You've never met any of the people you send e-mail to, even though you're related.

3. You can recite your lineage back eight generations, but can't remember your nephew's name.

4. You have more photographs of dead people than living ones.

5. You've ever taken a tape recorder and/or notebook to a family reunion.

6. You've not only read the latest GEDCOM standard, but also you understand it.

7. The local genealogy society borrows books from you.

8. The only film you've seen in the last year was the 1851 census index.

9. More than half of your CD collection is made up of marriage records or pedigrees.

10. Your elusive ancestor has been spotted in more different places than Elvis!

I wonder if a "Missing Persons Bulletin" would locate my g-g-grandpa?

If your family tree doesn't fork, you might be a redneck.

Is your family tree evergreen or deciduous?

Okay, so I don't descend from anyone... now what?

Sometimes you find an ancestor hanging from the family tree!

Try genealogy. You can't get fired and you can't quit!

Genealogists Actually read The "Begats"

I didn't really want to get into genealogy! Kept putting it off, but once I started I had my father narrowed down to one of three or four people in only six weeks!