Collecting family stories and organizing those boxes of photos is the quintessential model of affordable collecting. The genealogical part is essentially free with all the essential tools available at most public libraries. All you need is a pen, pad, and plenty of time. Lately, we’ve got the latter in spades. In Ashland, OR, the Jackson County library system provides a bank of computers and an in-house “library edition” of Ancestry.com for patrons to use. What you do with that information is up to the collector, and I use software called Family Tree Maker. It does a great job helping me organize the volumes of information, the zillions of photos nobody knows what to do with, and the family links that bind together over a thousand persons.
Once the raw data is entered into my laptop, I can fine-tune my research at home using the free Family Search website. Maintained by the LDS Church, their massive database dovetails directly into my software so I’m able to compare my entries with those of other genealogists. Sharing laptop data is tough, however, so I created this site to maintain an online version of our tree for family members. To do that, I solicited the help of Tim Forsythe who wrote a comprehensive software package called Gigatrees5 that formats my Mac data for the web. Even better, he offers this software for free.
What’s important to note is all this research, uploading, downloading, and hosting on a server for others to share requires the Internet. I can’t imagine life without it. (What would you expect from a retired techie.) Genealogy is, nonetheless, a collaborative process and this online version of the Viani~Hoster Family Tree can be easily updated with contributions from you.
Please visit the latest update of our tree and explore its depths. There’s a link in the right sidebar or you may click HERE. There’s a very good chance you’ll find yourself or, if that’s not the case, perhaps the story of someone you know.