23 November 2007

Gift ideas for genealogists

Holiday time is here and your favorite genealogist must have a wish list. Perhaps you're the researcher working on hints to family and friends about what you'd like for a birthday, anniversary or holiday?

Here are some suggestions:

1. Technology rules: This category offers everything from low-cost flashdrives to digital cameras (and extra storage cards), printer-scanners, hand-held scanners to packs of photo paper, printer cartridges, a box of blank CD/DVDs and thin "jewel" cases (color-coded sets are especially good!) to put them in.

2. Feeling generous: Your researcher will definitely appreciate a new smaller lightweight travel laptop computer. I'm hoping my favorite gift-giver reads this one!

3. Daily essentials: A mundane but bulky, heavy case of printer paper is a great help for folks who might be a bit older or live in snowy climates. Everyone needs archival quality file folders and other storage materials for photographs, documents, artifacts; poly sheet protectors are good to have. Google a search for "archival materials" or go direct to Light Impressions Direct.

4. Read it, write it: Jewish genealogists will appreciate a subscription to Avotaynu: The International Jewish Genealogy Journal, or any of the major reference books published by Avotaynu. There are many genealogy magazines in print or online; subscriptions are welcome. New babies in the family? Give the parents a baby book, and specialized journals for each set of grandparents to record their own lives for their new grandchild.

As our unique family histories also focus on our gastronomic traditions, ethnic cookbooks are always high on my list. Just one example is Poopa Dweck's Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews, which arrived recently. Just published, this is a big, lavishly photographed volume packed with unusual recipes and a holiday and life-cycle guide to Aleppo's unique customs. Watch for a stand-alone posting on this book.

5. New Genes: Start a surname or geographic DNA group at Family Tree DNA, and kick it off by sending selected relatives a test kit. This is definitely the gift that gives back in family information.

6. Join in: There are several database websites that can cost a pretty penny. Subscriptions to such fee-based sites as Ancestry , Footnote, World Vital Records would be very welcome. If your researcher already has a subscription, you could add a year or two to it. What about the membership fee to a local Jewish genealogical society? Or the registration fee for the annual international Jewish genealogy conference?

7. Starting out: If your researcher is just beginning or considering making the switch from paper to computer, consider a software package such as Family Tree Maker, Master Genealogist or Legacy Family Tree.

8. Make it personal: Scan in and record on disk your family photographs to share with relatives. Update your tree and send it out to the relatives so it reflects your latest discoveries.

9. Go for nostalgia: Gather the family and start planning a group roots trip back to the old country.

My favorite buy last year was a small digital recorder (no cassettes to fool around with or lose) and a battery recharger for its AAA batteries. Two years ago, I entered the 21st century with a digital camera. Both are now essential tools.

These are just some possibilities. What are your suggestions?

What's the best gift you've received that helped with your research?

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