Research Notes

G-Notes: Essential iPad – Genealogy

The iPad is a genealogy researcher’s dream. It allows you to keep your family databases, research logs, notes and reference material with you wherever you go. The amazing battery life means you can spend the day wandering the cemetery without missing a beat. And, no matter how much you load it down, it never gets heavier. My shoulder and neck are loving that! So here’s an overview of the genealogy essentials for your iPad.

First, let’s look at genealogy apps. They include:

  • MobileFamilyTree [$4.99]is the iPad version of MacFamilyTree and requires that you have a copy of the desktop app to function properly.
  • Reunion for iPad [$14.99] also requires the desktop version along with a wireless connection to synchronize your database between the two.
  • Families [$14.99] is a companion app for Legacy Family Tree giving you portability for your genealogy database.
  • GedView [$3.99] imports GEDCOM files so you can take your family tree with you. You can import multiple files into separate databases, and you can make changes on your iPad copy. Adding that information to your desktop database will require a GEDCOM export/import operation from iPad to desktop.
  • FamViewer [$14.99] is a GEDCOM-based viewer. It supports large GEDCOMs and imports a surprising amount of content. The only editing capability allows you to create notes which you can email to yourself for import to your desktop database.
  • Research Logger [$0.99] looks very interesting and the price is right. This app lets you maintain a portable research log that you can carry with you at all times and supports photos and audio entries too. The search feature gives you quick access to your notes.

These apps also have iPhone/Touch versions. In some cases one app works on all devices, but generally you’ll have to buy separate versions for the large and small devices.

Don’t forget that all the iThings are great podcast players, giving you access to Genealogy Gems, The Genealogy Guys and any number of other interesting podcasts. At iTunesU, the Open University offers a course on photo interpretation called Picture the Family [free] and another for Writing Your Family History [free]. A bit of creative searching will find many other useful courses and lectures.

I keep my most-used reference books on my iPad so they’re always with me and I can take advantage of bookmarks, notes and search to quickly find the information I need. I have a PDF copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills that I bought at Footnote. You’ll find Megan Smolenyak’s Who Do You Think You Are, Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Blog Primer and a growing number of genealogy books in the Kindle store. Barnes & Nobles also has a nice collection of genealogy e-books and a collection of public domain genealogies that can be downloaded free. One interesting find was William Montgomery Clemens’ magazine, “Genealogy: A Journal of American Ancestry”, published in the early 20th century.

Yes, there’s lots of research resources available for your iPad. The real beauty of all this genealogy goodness is that you can carry all this stuff with you without adding weight to your device – or your book bag.

Ain’t technology great!

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