Earlier this week, I noticed someone had linked on their GeneologyWise to Adams County, Illinois. And I thought, "Hey! I've got someone in Adams County, Illinois! Wait. Who do I have in Adams County, Illinois?" Which sent me on a fifteen minute quest to figure out what was up with Adams County.
(For the record, my great-grandmother, Mabel Bennett, lived there for about seven years of her childhood, and the family still had connections there once they moved across the border to Missouri. It was one of those small towns with newspaper articles like, "Miss Helen Wooten is spending the week in Monticello, Mo. with Misses Elsie and Mabel Bennett. The latter gave a party Wednesday for Miss Wooten.")
My point is, I shouldn't be losing track of entire counties. So it's time to buy some software.
Fortunately, the topic for Geneabloggers this week is software, so I can spend the week reading the reviews of people who like (or don't like) their software. Here's what I'm going to be watching for.
Help me sort it all
I really don't care one way or the other about producing pretty family trees. But I want to be able to quickly figure out who is from Adams County. I want to quickly find all the newspaper articles referring to the Bennett family. I'd like to be able to pull up all the women who were over the age of 30 in 1902. (I'm not sure why I'd want that last one, exactly, but you have to admit would be a really cool software if it can do that.)
Help me cite
I bought a copy of Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence, because if I'm going to do this genealogy thing, I'm going to do it right. And for now, I don't mind terribly flipping through the book trying to figure out the correct format and all the necessary information for every source I use. It's probably good practice. But I'd like it if I had a software that gave me prompts for my citation.
What I really want is something powerful enough to cite everything. I've noticed that sometimes I get a person birth day from one place and their birth year from somewhere else, and I'm really sure of, say, the date, but not so sure of the year. I want software that will let me keep track of that.
Let me organize facts and let me tell stories
It's a given that my software will help me track marriage dates and birth dates and where the family was for the 1920 census. But I also want plenty of space to write out narrative stories, and I want to be able to cite what I say in the stories too.
Help me keep track of what I don't know
I've got this really inelegant thing happening on Google Docs right now, where every person I research has a file for what I think I know but am not sure about, and what I don't know but would like to. I want software that's at least a step up from my Google Docs method. I'd like some way to enter information about my thought processes and theories and places to check next, and not just the confirmed facts.
Eek! Subdue my research log!
What I really want is something that will help me out with a research log. I dutifully keep a research log, but it's cumbersome and confusing and does not, I think, live up to its intended purpose. My research log is so unwieldy that I rarely use it to go back and look at what I did. I need a better method.
What else? To those you use their software and love it, and to those who use their software and hate it, what should I watch for (and watch out for) when I'm making my choice?