Genealogist Sally Romano can’t imagine life without start.me [Expert Opinion]

Genealogist Sally Romano can’t imagine life without start.me [Expert Opinion]

Sally Romano is a qualified genealogist through the Society of Australian Genealogists and a former President and Vice President of the Genealogical Society of Queensland (one of Australia’s preeminent family history organizations). She also loves to use start.me to organize her data. In this article, we’ll ask her why and how.

start.me: Could you tell me something about yourself?

Sally: Yes. So my background is in public relations. I had quite a successful agency here in Australia, but then we moved overseas and during that time I wasn’t able to work through visa restrictions, et cetera. I had always had an interest in genealogy and so that’s when I picked it up.

Why did you choose genealogy?

That’s mostly because of my grandmother. She could tell stories about generations of not only our family but families in the local area. I come from a small country town in Victoria. That’s in Australia. The family had been there since the mid-1800s, and my grandmother could literally tell you who was married to whom, what children they had, who they married, what children they had. I was just fascinated by that because when we were young, we had moved away and so I just didn’t have that connection. That’s what drew me to it. It’s that sense of connection that you’re going through genealogy, but it’s also a lot of fun doing the research. It’s like being a private detective in your family tree. 

I love the connections genealogy builds – it feels like you actually get to know your ancestors and gain an understanding of why they made the life decisions they did. You get a tremendous sense of social history because you learn about the times that your family lived in. You learn about different countries, wherever they come from. That’s what drove me to genealogy.

What are the challenges in genealogy?

I think we have all thought about genealogy at some point. I think we all want to know who our ancestors were so that we can learn more about ourselves. The key challenge in researching your family history is the enormous amount of records we need to sift through, and the resulting documentation we need to file.

How do you organize your research?

There are many online sites where you can start building your tree for free, like FamilySearch.org. The downside is that anyone can change it so you don’t own that tree – it becomes part of the living global tree, as it were. There are also specialist programs like Roots Magic and Family Tree Maker that you download onto your computer, so you can store your information that way. What happens, as you can imagine, is that you gather vast amounts of data from a diverse array of records, so it really is advisable to use a specialist genealogy program so that you can more easily mine your research.

FamilySearch.org

Think about this… you’ve got hundreds of ancestors who have each lived for decades, across centuries in multiple countries, and they’ve all had countless life events such as births, deaths, and marriages. Then there’s schooling, maybe they’ve won an award or served in the military. Maybe they lived through a natural disaster. There are all sorts of life events that generate data that need to be stored and organized in such a way that it remains accessible – that’s why organizing your genealogy is so important.

Is this where start.me is useful?

Yes, I can’t imagine life without it. I think one of the great strengths of start.me is the homepage functionality because whenever I click on the tab my start.me home page comes up. That’s where I keep all the sites that I use all the time. So if I need to go to any site I don’t have to type in the address –  I just go straight to wherever I want to go on the Internet in one click. 

The other thing I love about start.me too is how you can nest links. So you’ve got a widget of links, and you can dissect that cluster down into more specific subject areas and nest those links within groups. I love the group functionality.

How did you discover start.me?

Being a genealogist, I’m pretty good at research, so I looked into a lot of different tools. I thought that start.me was the most powerful. I mean those home pages are just remarkable.

The way that you can organize anything you want, from uploading documents to adding images. Just the brilliance of being able to click on a link and go where you want to go instantly – it saves so much time. The other thing I love about start.me, is that it’s so visual. You can change the background and make it your own – you can put your personality into your new start pages. 

I mean, there’s just no limit to the number of pages and ideas that you could have with start.me – it’s very, very powerful. The bookmarks widget is by far my absolute favorite widget because they are the backbone of my organizing system.

You’ve also created a community, can you tell us about that?

I started my genealogy organizing community because there are so many Facebook groups relating to genealogy research, but there wasn’t much assistance for people who are particularly interested in organizing their genealogy. So I’ve created this specialized community, with a real focus on organizing genealogy research. With it, I try to help people by building tools and resources that will help them to organize their genealogy. If you’ve got a system that supports you and that’s easy to use and intuitive, then it’s a lot easier to find the joy of genealogy.

I’ve had people comment that they would never have believed they would enjoy organizing because they first thought of it as a chore. In reality, they discovered that it was an empowerment tool. My organizing system is empowering. I think being organized allows you to get into the flow of your research. And if you could create a Facebook group to support that, I’d love that too.

This concludes the Interview

We’d love to hear what our readers think about this interview with Sally Romano. Are you also interested in Genealogy? Do you see other ways for us to improve our support for this field of research? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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