January 17th, 2013

Use a Kindle to “Fire” Up Your Genealogy Project

Amazon released the first Kindle back in 2007, and the technology has made great strides since then. For those of you who might not know, a Kindle is an e-reader, originally designed for reading e-books. In 2011 Amazon released the Kindle Fire, an updated version of the Kindle that can run popular applications (Apps), stream music and movies, and of course be used to read books.

Kindle Fire Uses for Genealogists
For many family historians, the Kindle has become a valuable tool, whether being used to communicate with family members, writing their family histories, or working on their project while away from home. I use one myself, and thought I’d share the many ways I have found a Kindle to be useful for genealogical purposes.

Reading and Researching
The Kindle Fire was designed as an e-reader, so it is fairly obvious that it can be a useful reading and researching tool. You can find thousands of genealogy related titles on the internet, and with the Kindle Fire you can download them in 60 seconds or less from Amazon. The Kindle Fire presents a great reading experience, akin to reading a magazine. You can find many free publications, and many are priced at only a dollar or two.

Genealogy on the Road
If you have a GEDCOM on the Ancestry.com website, you’ll be pleased to know that Ancestry has a free App that is compatible with a Kindle. Once you download and install the App you can access your family tree through your Kindle and share it with anyone, anytime, no matter where you are.

Stay Connected to Family
A really cool thing with the Kindle Fire is that it comes with Skype installed. I use it often to communicate with family members around the country. Recently I was researching an ancestor with origins in Florida and was able to work with my cousin who lives in the Orlando area to locate the records I needed. She has Skype on her iPad, and so we were able to search records together and chat while we were doing so, even though we were thousands of miles apart. Way cool!

Keeping Notes
A great thing about the modern world is that there is no shortage of apps. There is a particular app that works well with a Kindle known as Evernote. It can be used to capture images, PDFs, and other documents you might find online, organize them, and even add notes about them. When you’re offline you can still access your notes, and even add new ones that will sync with your Evernote once you reconnect to the internet. You can even use Evernote to create outlines or drafts of family group records and such.

Get Social
Modern day genealogists are making use of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and they are great ways to connect with other genealogists. Both sites are free to join and they are truly useful resources for the modern family historian. Facebook allows you to share your research and photos with family members and other genealogists, and you can even build a separate page just for your genealogy project. You can stay abreast of genealogical updates with Twitter, all on your Kindle Fire.

The use you get out of a Kindle is only limited to the apps you install on it. There are so many available these days, and many are genealogy specific. It would be a shame not to make use of the wonderful technology available to us today, especially as genealogists. There is an entire online community out there these days, so why not “tune in and turn on” with a Kindle!