Review – Pocket-Tree

Pocket Tree

Over the past two weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to use a new product on the genealogy market called Pocket Tree©™.  I was contacted by the company’s owner, Rhonda Early, and asked if I would like to take Pocket Tree©™ for a test drive.  I was very interested because I was on my way to visit the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah and I figured it would help me with my research.

Pocket Tree©™ Step-By-Step

Pocket Tree©™ bills itself as the “Quick, Light, Simple, & Complete 9-Generation Ancestry Chart!” and I couldn’t agree more.  What starts out as a small, index card sized item, open out into a huge 9-generation family chart waiting for you to enter information.  Here is how Pocket Tree©™ opens:

It starts small – 6-3/4 x 4-1/2″ – as shown in the graphic above.  The composition is sturdy, glossy card stock.

Next, open Pocket Tree©™ and some neat vintage photos are displayed.

Pocket Tree Vintage Photos

Next, open the inner panels and a very helpful list of interview questions is displayed.  These would come in handy if you are working with a living relative and you not only want to show them the family tree chart but also prompt them to discuss various aspects of family history.

Pocket Tree Interview Questions

And finally, open the panel to reveal the 9-generation family chart.

Pocket Tree Family Chart

A Helpful Genealogy Tool

Overall, I found Pocket Tree©™ to be a very handy tool while researching not only at the Family History Library but at home as well.  But for me, its biggest advantage is being able to work with a living relative during the interview process.

We all know what happens when we begin to “talk genealogy” with a grandparent, or an aunt or uncle: the eyes glaze over, they start looking for a way to get up and run to the kitchen or sometimes change the subject.  I believe much of this is because it is difficult for them to “visualize” their family history.  And also, it can be difficult to get the conversation “ball” rolling if there aren’t handy interview questions or prompts.

Pocket Tree©™ solves these problems: it folds up into an easy-to-carry size for your purse or jacket pocket.  You can pull it out at family reunions or events and show your family how you’ve progressed with your research.  And the handy questions can get them to start talking about other ancestors and what they recall about the family’s history.

The only difficulty I had: filling the chart out by hand! Realize that since I am on a computer about 16 hours a day, it is a hardship for me to even write a check these days!  I recommend that if you purchase Pocket Tree©™, use a sharp pencil and take your time completing the information.  The process will be worth it when you consult the family tree at a later date.


Pocket Tree©™ is priced at $13.00 US plus $3.50 shipping and handling.  You can purchase via PayPal or contact the company for other payment arrangements via check or money order.  Check out their website and see if Pocket Tree©™ wouldn’t be a handy tool for you or a gift for your favorite genealogist.

Note: I will be posting an interview with Rhonda Early, owner of Pocket Tree©™ here at GeneaBloggers – find out more about her and her company.

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Disclosure statement: I contacted Pocket Tree©™ via email.  I asked for and received a complimentary Pocket Tree©™ to review here at GeneaBloggers. After reviewing the product, I will continue to use Pocket Tree©™ for my own personal use.  In addition, I am enrolled in the Pocket Tree©™ Affiliate program and use these links on this site. To review the other material connections I have with genealogy vendors, please see Disclosure Statements.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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Shaking the Family Tree – Shaken and Stirred!

Shaking the Family Tree

For weeks I had heard from my colleagues in the genealogy field about this “fantastic” book with genealogy as the main subject and by a woman with an “odd name.” Somehow I thought that footnoteMaven had finally written a comprehensive book about 19th century photography studios or about photos of women with glasses. Or perhaps it was a new tome by citation goddess Elizabeth Shown Mills under a nom de plume like I. Cites. Whatever it was, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy, based on the “buzz” the book was creating.

The Buzz

Well Buzzy is a better word – as in Buzzy Jackson, the author of Shaking the Family Tree – Blue Bloods, Black Sheep and Other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist. Jackson’s view of how a fairly innocent hobby like genealogy can become an obsession is not only accurate but she is also able to convey how many genealogists – both the hobbyist and the professional – feel about searching for family history.

When I told a non-genealogy friend about Shaking the Family Tree, she said, “Well I knew you were possessed by this genealogy thing. Now I just think you are possessed.” Why do I want to climb to the top of a tree and shout about this book? Because what Jackson has written is simply what I would sit down and tell someone who asks, “So what does genealogy involve? And why are genealogists so obsessed with it?”

The Journey

Buzzy Jackson’s journey which begins innocently with attending a local genealogical society meeting could be any genealogist’s journey. Over the course of the book readers not only find out more about Jackson’s own family, but how the process of searching for ancestors has changed thanks to the Internet as well as the availability of DNA testing. In fact, I was very impressed by the logical way in which Jackson described DNA testing and its genealogical uses – it is probably one of the best summaries on the subject that I’ve seen.

With humor as well as poignant details, Jackson has been able to encapsulate all the fascinates genealogists in an engaging book. Jackson covers it all: the brick walls, the genealogy research trips, the interviews with family members and more. With the holiday shopping season upon us, not only would this make a great gift for the genealogist in your life, but also for those who’ve expressed an interest and want to learn more about genealogy.

Got Genealogy?

Buzzy Jackson “gets” genealogy and understands its many aspects, its traditions and what the future holds for the industry. And luckily for us, she has been able to communicate the “pull” that genealogy can have on one’s life and she’s willing to share it in Shaking the Family Tree. Not only will readers be shaken but hopefully they’ll be stirred to start their own hunt for their ancestors. Then they’ll understand the life of the genealogy-obsessed.

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Disclaimer: I contacted Touchstone Books/Simon and Schuster about receiving a review copy of the book Shaking Your Family Tree at no cost in consideration of writing a review. This material connection had no effect on the outcome of the review and the review was performed based on the merits of the written work of the author. See Disclosure Statements for more information on the material connections I have with various genealogy and non-genealogy vendors.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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