Family History Research

Tech Tuesday – Memory Manager Software

From 2001 until 2008 I was a scrapbook consultant with Creative Memories.  CM created a software program during that time called Memory Manager. I absolutely love this software program. I bought the original program and just bought the most current version to upload on my newest computer. I personally feel this program is much better than Picasa, which you can download for free online.  You can read about the features at the link above but here is a short list:

  • MM allows you to create vaults to hold your photos. I currently have two on my computer – Genealogy and 2010-2011 Photos. I am able to sort photos into certain vaults so I don’t mix them up.
  • Within a vault you can use the Sort Boxes and Folders set up or create your own. In my Genealogy vault, I have Sort Boxes (like a filing cabinet) set up for Holik Photos, Urban Photos (both sides of the family), Holik Docs, Urban Docs, Graves. Within each of those boxes I set up a file folder for each family. This allows me to easily locate any document, grave photo or family photo I need.
  • The photo editing options are endless, cropping, rotating, color, etc.
  • You can view photos via folders or use a timeline to show only the photos brought into MM in a certain time period. You can also sort by photos printed, those not in folders or imported.
  • To share photos you can export them to file or automatically to email. You can use Creative Memories Storybook Creator to make digital albums which are then printed by their photo service.
  • There are various backup and health check features for the vaults.
  • For each photo you can add a name, date taken or date of the photo, a short story about the photo, see which folder(s) it is in and give it a rating.
  • Files can be imported via scanner, files, phone and camera.

Those are only some of the features of Memory Manager. I do not use the program to make digital albums because I feel Creative Memories charges too much for an album. They are great quality but for me, that still doesn’t justify the high price. I export my photos to Winkflash and create digital albums there, or print my photos from Winkflash to create traditional hands-on scrapbooks.

Creative Memories sells through independent consultants or via their website. Check them out if you are interested.

(I was not paid to write this review. I purchased and used this product since it was released several years ago and absolutely cannot live without it.)

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Blog recommendation

I just came across a blog, Amanda’s Athenæum, with lots of useful information. I was particularly interested in the blogger’s post about OneNote, a Microsoft Office product. I just got a new laptop and this program was part of the MS Office I purchased. Never having heard of it, I tried it out. It is amazing. Read Amanda’s blog post for more information on it. Give it a try and I think you will love it as a research tracking tool.

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Check your data and fill in gaps

As I think about things to write for my blog, it reminds me to go back to my research and recheck data, see where I am on my goals, what letters I need to write to obtain new information, and find out what is still missing that I want to discover.

My latest project idea came about after I wrote about Naturalization and Women last week. I thought it would be a good idea to make an Excel file with the names of the people in my main lines (to start), their date of birth, date of immigration, date of Declaration, date of Naturalization, and occupation.

As I look at the data, I have 24 people in my main lines who immigrated. Of those I have dates of immigration for 22. Of those, I have iffy dates, meaning I put Abt. 1880 as a date, for two. Looking more at the data I see I have very few Declaration and Naturalization dates recorded. Why is that? Did I not enter them in my database? Did I only have a Naturalization date and no Declaration date? I think I need to go back through my paper files and try to answer some of these questions. If I do not have a record, it is time to search for one or see if I have a letter from IRAD (Illinois Regional Archives Depository) stating no record was found.

I listed occupation in my file because I would like to expand this and add children to the immigrants and trace the occupations of those children. Did most of the male children follow in the footsteps of their father, or choose a different trade? Did the women follow in their mother’s footsteps and become wives and mothers?

I love Excel sheets, can you tell since this is my second post about them and I am using them for several purposes? I have another file specifically for Burial listings. I created a Burial report in my Family Tree Maker software and exported it to Excel. The file contains the person’s first and last names, date of death, cemetery name, location of grave. This of course is an ongoing project to find as many grave sites as I can to fill in the gaps. I have 2,336 people in my database so far and grave sites for only about 95 of them. Time to start researching more death certificates and obituaries and asking the family about some of the more recent people who have died.

What is your latest project for your research? Are you filling in gaps with different data than I am looking at? Have you created other types of reports and spreadsheets to capture missing data? I would love to hear about it. I’m always looking for new ways to add information to the lives of my ancestors.

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Genealogy Mapping Software

A few months ago I began writing my great, great uncle, Michael Kokoska’s life story. He had a brief life, living only into his early 20’s and dying in France during World War I. I wanted to add a map to his story to illustrate where he fought in France during his months in the War overseas.

I found a fantastic genealogy mapping software program called Family Atlas. This program allows me to add places via a Gedcom upload, or by adding them at will. I am able to create custom maps, such as one I created for Michael’s story that has the places at which he fought. The map also has a timeline feature which I utilized when creating his map to document his entry into the Army and service through his death.

Users are able to publish the maps through a printer or by export to a PDF or picture file. The software matches what city you enter with one in the database complete with county and country. Users are also able to view their maps with or without county and country borders. The software has great tutorials so any level user is able to create amazing maps.

In my next article about using maps to document family history, I will give an example of a map I created using this software. Stay tuned!

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