Back in the 'old days', where B.C. meant 'before Christ' rather than 'before computers', my recommendation would have been to keep your final records in a large hardback notebook or, failing that, a high quality, multi-ring binder. Today, the best solution is to use a computer. Use specialised software. There are a number of these software packages available, and to my mind, you can't do better than to use PAF (Personal Ancestry File). PAF has a number of advantages in that:
- It's free.
- It can be easily obtained by downloading it from the Web.
- It comes from the originator of the Gedcom standard - a type of file used to transfer genealogy information.
- It's capable of producing a wide range of printed reports - even a book.
- It's capable of producing a Web site.
- It's easy to use.
The screenshot below shows the PAF screen in 'Family' view - a screen which provides close up detail of birth/baptism, marriage and death events. Of course this is too detailed for a pedigree but not detailed enough for a full report. using other options you can display a pedigree, add multimedia, produce a variety of reports, a website or even produce a full book.
Whilst PAF is wonderful, there are many who prefer to look at the printed word. If you visit one of the genealogical libraries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint, you'll find that there are available, printed family group and pedigree sheets for keeping records on. They can be obtained by the public for a small fee and come ready to fit into a binder. They are not essential, however, since PAF will print out the same sheets for you. (And if your handwriting is like mine, probably a lot neater).
If you have a scanner, it's possible to scan documents you collect and keep a copy of them in your PAF file but, you will want to keep the originals in good condition and secure from being lost. For this, we recommend the use of clear mylar photo slips which can be inserted in a ringed binder along with the rest of your printouts. Remember that these records may be irreplaceable so keep them somewhere safe where they will not be damaged by fire, theft or natural disaster. A good way to insure the safety of your records is to share copies of them. Keep a copy of everything on the Web. That way, it is available to others who are also searching your family and should be safe from natural disaster. You don't have to use paid Web space, there are lots of servers on the Web who will give you free Web space in exchange for you allowing them to place banner adverts on your pages.
Get a copy of PAF from this location.