Sunday, March 14, 2010

Footnote's Pages Feature

Though I have been aware of the Pages feature at Footnote for a while, it took the GeneaBloggers Games to get me to start using it.

You can create a page centered around a person, organization, place, event, or topic (which is basically the category "Other"). Each page includes:

- A title and description
- A place to add images (either images of documents taken from Footnote or your own images)
- A place to add facts (categorized under Person (general facts), birth, death, burial, physical description, employment, education, marriage, residence, and other)
- A timeline created from these facts, including major historical events that occurred during that person's life span, and buttons to change the scale used for the timeline
- A prompt indicating databases to search for more information
- A Google map showing places mentioned in the facts
- A button to connect this page to other pages (contributors' member pages, pages for persons who are related, and possibly event, place, or organization pages to which they are connected)
- Buttons for bookmarking, sharing, and posting on Facebook

Pages are rather easy to create and maintain in Footnote, though sometimes a little bit of experimentation is needed to figure out the most efficient way of doing things. For instance, I started out by adding images to my gallery first and then adding them from there to my individual pages. It is better to add them directly to the pages as you view them, because it is difficult to distinguish individual images when selecting pages from the gallery view.

Although a good genealogy program can do a lot of the "information management" work, there are a number of features that make Footnote's Pages a truly useful research tool. On the top of my list of these features is the ability to collect digital images of documents related to a person in a single location. I can do this on my computer desktop by downloading images into a single folder (which I do as a backup), but I love having the document right next to the fact list and time line - it's a form of visual organization for me. Members can also upload images to these pages. Having Google Maps close by is also convenient.

The capability for collaboration and contacting other researchers may also prove useful. In the lower left corner of each page there are buttons for choosing "Only you can contribute to this page" or "Let any Footnote member contribute to this page." The latter is the default setting, and I have left it that way on each of the pages. I suppose the possibility exists for someone to add incorrect or "junk" information, but at this point I do not expect that. I prefer this to adding a family tree to Ancestry with its “shaky leaves.”

Selecting and adding information and images does involve a good deal of work, and the fact that Footnote is a paid subscription service has to be taken into account. It's a little bit like purchasing real estate. You have contributed so much, now you don’t want to abandon all that, do you? The Pages feature thus ends up being not a hook to lure new members, but a way to keep old members. I waited for a “half-price” special to join Footnote, but now that I have created a number of pages, what do I do when I want to sign up for another year at full price? After all, I really don’t want to leave “my peeps” to languish without me.

Well, can’t I just put everything into my genealogy program? My program, Reunion, has an option for adding images. However, the program runs really slowly when images are added, so I no longer do this.

So, despite the prospect of paying for Footnote membership year after year, I decided to take the leap.


  1. I'm a creature of habit and I have gotten out of the habit of using footnote. I have several pages there but have never made any connections through them. I'm certain there are many more pages I should create or add to.

    Their user agreement leaves me with the impression that you can still access the pages section of the site even if you let your full access membership lapse but I'm not 100% certain.

  2. Thanks for the information, Apple; I'll have to check into that. I love using Footnote, but I also like the option of being able to drop it for a while if I need to save money.