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Evernote for Occasional Genealogists

Have you realized what the biggest challenge for Occasional Genealogists is?

It's not a lack of research results. It's remembering what research you've done.

The solution to this problem is great organization.

That's not a very helpful answer, though.

Great genealogical organization involves several aspects.
These aspects include:

  • great note taking, 
  • a great filing/retrieval system, and 
  • great skills overall---like report/memo writing and analysis.

Genealogy Organization, Simplified

Occasional Genealogists need to write everything down, AND they need to be able to find it again.

Every genealogist can benefit from this, but if you get to research pretty often, you can rely on your memory (you shouldn't, but you can).

If you're familiar with Evernote, you probably know where I'm going with this.

Occasional Genealogists can't remember everything---Evernote's tagline is "Remember Everything." [note: that was the tagline this post was written] Evernote was designed to solve this Occasional Genealogist problem.

Evernote for Genealogy

Gifts for the Genealogist in the Making

Gifts for people who haven't fully succumbed to genealogyitis, just push them over the edge this Christmas. You know you love having one more genealogy friend!

This post contains affiliate links (I know you're shocked, a gift guide with affiliate links).
This is one of a series of gift guides for specific recipient types or gifters.
Some suggestions are reproduced rather than making you follow a series of links.

I think I make this recommendation in every gift guide. However, in this case, this might be why you have an "almost" genealogist you need to give a gift to. If not, it will probably drive them straight into genealogy's clingy, never releasing arms. My first recommendation is a DNA test (if you're surprised you need to read more of this blog).

I recommend getting your kit from FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA). Here's why.

  1. Cheapest everyday price on autosomal DNA tests (probably what you're ordering, called "Family Finder" at FTDNA).
  2. ONLY company offering the other two types of (currently) available genealogical DNA tests (Y and mt).
  3. Swab test. Some people can't manage the spit test required by AncestryDNA and 23 and Me. If this is a surprise (as many gifts are) this is probably the number one reason to go with FamilyTreeDNA.
  4. Excellent in-house analytical tools plus great third party tools, available.
  5. Phasing of results (if you've had multiple relatives tested) plus, options to connect testees to people in your tree.
You could get almost the same benefits (less #2) from MyHeritageDNA (and MyHeritage uses FTDNA's lab so it is super easy to add a YDNA or mtDNA test via FTDNA, there's even a button to do it, super easy).

How about starting genealogy the easy way, with stories!
StoryWorth is a service not just aimed at genealogists. Their core service is via email (with other options). This is a year-long gift. At the end of the year, the stories are bound as a book.

You could gift this for the genealogist-to-be to gather his/her own stories or so they could send it to a relative to gather the relative's stories. Think about newlyweds and new parents as well as older relatives with the family stories.

This year I was actually approached to see if  I would be willing to review a book to include in my gift guides. Wow! This is a beautiful book.

The book is Chicago Eternal and it's a coffee table book of pictures from Chicago cemeteries. I am not from the mid-west but I am a genealogist so I really enjoyed the variety of cemetery monuments (because it's so much more than tombstones). The pictures are really top notch. Normally with a product slightly outside my specialty, I wouldn't want a company to pay to have to ship me an item, I could review a digital item.

But this book is all about the pictures. We own a few coffee table books and at least one was mangled by the publisher (gorgeous photos but some were not reproduced as they should have been). So, I had to see the book before I'd recommend it. Well, here it is, in digital black and white.

Larry Broutman did a beautiful job of the photography. There is also some text, it isn't just pictures so if you are interested in Chicago history/genealogy even better.

Here's one other cool thing that almost threw me off. The back section is in 3D! So don't flip the book open from the back and think something went wrong (like I did one time when I picked it up). The glasses are in the front so you can enjoy an old-fashioned virtual tour of some of the monuments.

Everything Goes Media has provided a special coupon for my readers so you can get $10 off this book, use OCCGEN45 at (waited too long to order? You can also get this at Amazon with Prime, sorry no coupon, though---Chicago Eternal.)

Here are a few sample images from the book, I promise, if these look good on your monitor, they look better in print!

image from Chicago Eternal by Larry Broutman, used with permission

image from Chicago Eternal by Larry Broutman, used with permission

Of course, if your recipient's interests lie somewhere other than a cemetery or Chicago, there are many books of similar style but on different topics.

If you're looking for a "small" gift, don't forget about the "Images of America" series which covers many small towns and is often available in a local books store (or check Amazon if you're looking for a not-local-to-you location).

Finally, why not make it easy for them to dive headfirst into the bottomless pool of genealogy?
RootsMagic has a holiday offer through December 23rd.

See my other Genealogy Gift Guides (both from the genealogist):
DIY Gifts from the Crafty Genealogist
From the Genealogist to the Impossible to Please

Gift Guide | The Occasional Genealogist

My DNA Results Are Wrong. What Can I Do?

Have you gotten back your DNA test results and gone, "these are wrong!" but didn't know what you could do (or assumed you needed to pay for another test)?


I am all for people taking multiple DNA tests for genealogy, but usually when you do it because you believe your results are wrong, you're throwing away money.

Let me help you save some money or spend it wisely and figure out what you need to do.

What to Do If You Think Your DNA Results are Wrong.

Mini-Tips for U.S. Military Research

The veterans in your family tree are unique like every other ancestor and relative. So this year, instead of an attempt at a semi-comprehensive round-up of resources (covering the majority of the major U.S. conflicts) or a memorial post about the veterans in my family, I'm providing a post as unique to me as my ancestors.

You can think of this as a variety-pack of tips. It doesn't have a single focus. These are tips that might fall through the cracks because they're just a bit of information, not a full post.

Free Online Genealogy Tools

These tools weren't "born" yesterday. And that may mean you are missing out on their awesomeness simply because the buzz about them died a long time ago.

old-school free online family history tools

Keep reading to (quickly) learn about some of my favorite, free online tools for genealogy.

Resource Library Links

I'm updating the Resource Library. If a link you click to sign-up does not work, try this link instead.