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Posted: June 26, 2012 9:15 p.m.

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Getting everything organized

As we move into the next phase of genealogy, you will have lots of questions. I am devoting the next few columns to answering your "Frequently Asked Questions."

How to get everything organized is probably the toughest question to answer, so I will be taking it in parts.

Always keep your thoughts on the big picture. When researching, you can sometimes lose track of the big picture. If you had a day out at the cemetery and come home, before you plan another day out, organize what you found first. Utilize your forms and fill out all the information you found.

•Computer Organization There are a lot of products on the market for beginning genealogists to record their data on., which requires a paid subscription, is by far the best in my opinion. You can build a tree, add pictures, tell a story about your ancestors, search and then add it to your tree. Others can search and add it to your tree also. However, there are other databases out there that are paid and some that are free.

•Paid vs Free databases

Free is what I like. Software to record your genealogy lines are very personal to each individual. Some like software with lots of features, others like a simple but productive software. Only you, the reader, can determine which software is perfect for you.



* (standard version is free / deluxe costs money)

(free based on 250 ancestors / 251+ ancestors costs money)

Next week I will give you a short preview of each software. This week take a tour of each of these software databases.

Ellen Chit Chats

I received this question from Pam: My father served in World War II as a Marine. Where can I obtain his full military record?

Military personnel records are used for proving military service, or as a valuable tool in genealogical research. Most veterans and their next-of-kin can obtain free copies of their DD Form 214 (Report of Separation) and other military and medical records.
Next-of-kin (the un-remarried widow or widower, son, daughter, father, mother, brother or sister of the deceased veteran) must provide proof of death of the veteran, such as a copy of the death certificate, a letter from the funeral home or a published obituary.
You can go to and click on Veterans Service Records and follow the prompts.

Response time for records requested from the National Personnel Records Center varies and is dependent upon the complexity of your request, the availability of records and their workload. They usually try to get back to you within 90 days. While the NPRC works actively to respond to each request, the center receives approximately 4,000 to 5,000 requests per day. Requests that involve reconstruction efforts due to the 1973 fire or older records which require extensive search efforts, may take six months or more to complete.
Note: The 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center damaged or destroyed 16-18 million Army and Air Force records that documented the service history of former military personnel discharged from 1912-1964. Although the information in many of these primary source records were either badly damaged or completely destroyed, often alternate record sources can be used to reconstruct the service of the veterans impacted by the fire. Sometimes the NPRC are able to reconstruct the service promptly using alternate records that are in their holdings, but other times they must request information from other external agencies for use in records reconstruction. In some instances, therefore, requests that involve reconstruction efforts may take several weeks to a month to complete.


Ellen Blakeslee is a professional genealogist living in Covington. If you have any questions or concerns, please email her at


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