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Computers and Genealogical Research

There has been a dramatic increase in the use of microcomputers by people tracing their ancestry.  Computers allow genealogical data to be entered, processed, stored, revised, and printed on pedigree charts, family group sheets, ascendancy and descendency charts.  Computers, however, do not replace careful, accurate research.  In addition to the purchase of the computer itself, there are word-processing and genealogical software programs to be considered as well as Internet access, a CD/DVD player and speakers, a printer, printer paper and ink, internet connection, etc. 

Never feel that you are too old to learn to use a computer.  Non-credit school courses are inexpensive and teach the necessary fundamentals.  Before buying a computer, word processing and genealogical programs, it is a very good idea to talk to others who have made such purchases.  You can attend genealogical society meetings where data on computers is available and you can go to genealogical conferences at which displays on computers can be viewed.  One can study articles in genealogical society newsletters that evaluate genealogical programs and describe the strong points and limitations of each.

A good word processing program can be used to prepare letter/e-mails, transcribe a tape-recorded interview, write up a family history narrative, produce a mailing list, compile a newsletter for a family association, or to do any number of other writing and editing chores.  Next, you can buy a genealogical software program to record names, dates and places for each family member as well as narrative and historical data.  The program can produce pedigree charts, family group sheets, a descendency chart and other useful lists and forms.  Data can be added, deleted or rearranged in these programs and new forms can be produced quickly.  Genealogical software programs allow you to transfer and exchange family history data with others through the Internet or by duplicating data.

There is a vast amount of genealogical information on the Internet.  Archival institutions, museums, libraries, family history associations, companies and individuals are placing a great deal of genealogical data on the Internet.  For example, the PANB makes available genealogical research guides on-line that list microfilmed records for each of New Brunswick's fifteen counties.  There is On-Line Research data in various government and private sector record collections.  There are provincial directories, land grants and petitions, birth, marriage and death certificates, newspaper obituaries, lists of biographies and family histories and other helpful records and resources.  Information is being continually added to the World Wide Web.