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The Newbie Genealogist

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Always a "newbie"

Always a “newbie”

In the same way that most novices enter an undertaking, I delved into the ancestor hunt passionately, hopefully making up for a lack of necessary background, skill, and knowledge. But here I am, two years and easily 2000 hours later, dreaming of a different approach. How would I do it differently? Let me list the ways.

  1. I would start with a good program to record my information. (I actually put everything into my own excel spread sheet to start!) I now use Heredis. It works with Macs and is adequate to the task. I can’t judge it against anything else.
  2. I would become familiar with the Genealogical Proof Standard. I made some errors early on that required some major backtracking. I am more careful now. Avoid my mistakes. Check them out.
  3. I would use Evernote right from the beginning! Sure, here and there I had heard about it. But I was too busy researching to learn a new program. I could track all those printed documents (and pay a fortune in ink) and create all those folders on my Mac, couldn’t I? What was I thinking?!! Evernote is amazing. Mark web sites either in part or completely, include PDF and word documents, write notes to self, and organize them all in notebooks. Check it out at!
  4. I would start a blog earlier. When I started, I thought no one else would really care. I did it to give back after taking so much from the on-line community. But I’ve met a number of truly interesting, and interested, people. They spur me on and help focus my research.

I’m still a novice, but I learn quickly. To see how much I still need to learn, I will attend my first genealogy conference in August. As a retired teacher and educational administrator, I believe in educating myself. At the conference, I will attend a luncheon focused on Quality Research in a Pop Genealogy World…they call me a “newbie genealogist” in the blurb. I thought it might be interesting to see me through their eyes.

Meanwhile, I’m signing off in order to get more organized. And, by the way, would I really have done it differently? Maybe, but that’s history. I don’t think it unfolds without us passionate newbies.