Practice First

The app to save pictures and information on family mementos (documents, pictures, furniture, jewelry, etc.) seemed like a great idea and was not too difficult to use. Stories of these items often do not get preserved and when a family member dies the stories of those items are often forgotten and the significance of the item is buried along with the owner.

But before you spend a great deal of time using anything on your phone or computer to organize your personal family history items–use it. Experiment with all the aspects of it. The biggest concern with all these apps or programs is the ability to get the information off the website or the app in a way that the information can be kept and used later.

Websites do not stay around forever. Apps get abandoned by their creator for one reason or another. The app I played with let me download my information and images (which was great), but it renamed every photograph I uploaded from my computer (with numbers instead of the names I had originally used) and all items were downloaded in one big set of items. The organizational structure I had created to sort the items was gone.

Before you invest any time in an “easy to use” app to help you with your family history, make certain you can get your information out of the app in an easy to use format. Practice with a few items and know what you will get when you download. Put the app through all its paces before you invest significant time with it or before you have a relative use it.

The time to find out “how it works” is not after you’ve created a database of 200 items.

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