Digital Toolbox

Family history in your pocket

My Kindle Touch continues to amaze me. I’m constantly finding new ways to put this little reader to use as a research tool. And, while it doesn’t support genealogy database software, that doesn’t mean it can’t be used to keep your family history with you wherever you go. Here’s how I do it.

I’m using Reunion for the Mac which has several nice reporting features. I use it to create a Family History Report for the families I’m actively researching and choose the number of generations I want to include. I set the report’s format to rich text (RTF) and save the file. Next, I open the exported report in my word processing app (iWork’s Pages) and reformat it to fit my Kindle Touch’s screen. I’ve created a custom page setup that is 6″ x 8″ with ¼” margins all around and no header or footer. This has been saved so now all I do is select it and the text is re-arranged to fit. [I’m pretty sure you can save custom setups with Word too.] The last formatting step is to select all the text and set the font to Times New Roman at 12pt to insure readability. Finally, save and export the file to PDF format.

Getting the document to the Kindle is easy. All I have to do is email it. Each Kindle device – and the Kindle apps now too – has its own email address. If your Kindle is connected (either by wifi or 3G), you’ll see it appear on the device almost immediately. If it doesn’t, tap the Menu button and choose the Sync and Check for Items option.

Repeat these steps for each of the family groups you want to keep with you.

NOTE: Kindle’s personal document service accepts RTF files, but will convert them to Kindle format before sending them to your device. This will strip a lot of the formatting – especially the indenting – used to make these reports more readable. That’s why I take the time to resize, format and export them to PDF myself.

Notepad-Plus
Notepad Plus

You have the same annotation capabilities with these personal documents that Kindle offers for its books. You can highlight text, add notes and share right on the Kindle. The resulting annotations are synched back to your Kindle library at Amazon. Yes, it’s a manual process to get these notes back into your genealogy database, but the advantage of having that little Kindle with you wherever you go means you can capture those serendipitious tidbits of family history whenever they happen.

But that’s not all . . . For 99¢ you can add Notepad Plus to your Kindle Touch and take long notes, keep a todo list or even a shopping list on your Touch. Amazon doesn’t call them apps, but rather “active content”. They’re a far cry from similar apps on any tablet, but they can still be quite handy when all you have with you is your Kindle.

 

2 thoughts on “Family history in your pocket

  1. Great post! Thanks for sharing how you get the genealogy information into your Touch. I’m a PC user but with your detailed explanation, I’m sure I can format my reports using Word or some other word processor software. Thanks again!

    Like

  2. Great article! Can’t wait to try the same thing with my iPad and iBooks. PDFs are such great, versatile documents.

    Like

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